Advertisements appeared last week in British, US, Australian, German, and Norwegian newspapers with the question, "Can you trace your family tree back to 1066? Might your ancestors have claimed the English throne?" If so, the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England would like to talk to you.
Born in Hungary, Edgar Ætheling was the only son of Edward the Exile, heir to the English throne, and was a grandson of King Edmund II ("Edmund Ironside"). He was the last male member of the West Saxon royal house of Cerdic and was the only legitimate heir to the throne at that time. Upon his father's death in 1057, Edgar was nominated as heir apparent by his great-uncle, King Edward the Confessor. In 1066 he was the only candidate for the throne who could trace his descent from an English king. Unfortunately, Edgar was only in his early teens at the time. Harold II was crowned instead.
William the Conqueror crossed over from Normandy, defeating and killing Harold at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066. Edgar was proclaimed King Edgar II by a Witenagemot in London. He was never crowned, and he submitted to William I some six to eight weeks later, at the age of about fourteen or fifteen.
NOTE #1: The Witenagemot was a council of men that advised the king on the administration and organization of the kingdom, dealing with issues such as taxation, jurisprudence, and both internal and external security.
"If William had not taken the throne in 1066, the entire course of English history would have been very different," genealogist Nick Barratt said. "We'd probably be speaking a different language, consider our closest allies to be Scandinavian, and have a completely different system of government."
English Heritage (the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England) asks in its advertisements: "Are you of Edgar the Ætheling's lineage and believe you have a legitimate claim?" If so, you might have claim to the crown of England.
NOTE #2: Edgar probably has tens of thousands - if not hundreds of thousands - of living descendants. While you might have some claim to the crown, be prepared to compete against a rather large number of near and distant cousins.
In any case, get out your descendancy charts, along with the supporting documentation, and go to http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/hastings.