Bonnie Prince Charlie ‘was a tough guy’

Bonnie Prince CharlieImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption A portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie painted in the 1740s

Bonnie Prince Charlie was a far stronger personality than he has been depicted in history, art and popular culture, an author has argued.

Stephen Lord said the prince’s enemies portrayed him as a “weakling” unfamiliar with the use of weapons.

But the author of Walking with Charlie said such a figure could not have been able to raise an army and lead it on a march into England.

Lord believes the prince had great physical and mental strength.

The writer said government and Hanoverian propaganda also described the Jacobite army supporting the Young Pretender’s claim to the throne as “savages”.

‘Tough guy’

After arriving in the Scotland from France in 1745, the prince persuaded clan chief to back his cause and helped to lead an army to Derby.

Following the Jacobites’ defeat at Culloden, near Inverness, on 16 April 1746, he was forced flee across the west Highlands while pursued by government troops.

Lord, who will deliver this year’s National Trust for Scotland/1745 Association Lecture at Culloden Battlefield centre on 12 April, said: “Hanoverian propaganda showed Prince Charles to be effete and something of a weakling.

“His army was said, amongst many other untruths, to be made up of savages who might eat the children of those they encountered on their journey into England.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Art has depicted the prince as far weaker than Stephen Lord believes he was

The author said posters and portraits of the prince at time suggested the prince to be “effeminate and perhaps emasculated” and “hardly the tough guy he, in reality, was”.

Lord said: “The whole Jacobite campaign shows Prince Charles Edward Stewart to be much stronger than he is popularly supposed to be.

“He was present throughout the campaign of course and then spent five months on the run after Culloden travelling through some very tough terrain in the remotest parts of Scotland.”

‘Strength of personality’

He added: “He spent it in the wilderness of Knoydart, Morar, Glenmoriston, Ben Alder and numerous other trackless areas.

“The going here is very hard underfoot, even today and I cannot imagine what it must have been like in 1746 with a redcoat army constantly close behind.”

Lord said events at the beginning of the Jacobites’ 1745 campaign suggest the prince had “resilience, great mental strength and authority”.

The author said: “He did not always get his own way of course and being overruled on the matter of an advance (on London) from Derby is a case in point.

“However, when the prince landed with only the ‘Seven Men of Moidart’ and very few weapons it was through sheer strength of personality that he persuaded a number of clan chiefs, notably Cameron of Lochiel, to support him.”

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