The Life of the ‘Lost Prince’
The life and death of Henry Stuart, the “lost prince” who would have been King Henry IX had he survived into adulthood, is the subject of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
Born in 1594, he died in 1612 at the age of 18, struck down by typhoid fever. His younger brother later acceded to the throne, becoming the doomed King Charles I.
During his short life, Henry was a focus for developments in the visual arts, architecture, music and literature. He amassed an impressive art collection and established a court to rival any in Europe.
So beloved was the young prince that his death precipitated a national outpouring of grief.
In scenes that would be echoed almost 400 years later with the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, crowds lined the streets as the cortege travelled to Westminster Abbey and a contemporary record notes:
“There was to bee seene an innumerable multitude of all sorts of ages and degrees of men, women and children… some weeping, crying, howling, wringing of their hands, others halfe dead, sounding, sighing inwardly, others holding up their hands, passionately bewayling so great a losse, with Rivers, nay with an Ocean of teares.”
Yet he is hardly a household name. Catharine MacLeod, curator of the exhibition, said: “The Civil War, that huge rupture in the mid-17th century, overshadowed everything that went before and today Henry is all but forgotten.
“This exhibition gives us a glimpse into the spectacular and culturally rich life of this exceptional prince.”
The Lost Prince: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart runs from October 18 2012 - January 13 2013