How King George V was rattled by 1930s conman who lay claim to the throne

27th July 2006

Pretender to the throne: Anthony Hall

He claimed to have explosive evidence capable of overthrowing the Royal Family in the biggest shake-up in British history.

Had he got his way, King George V would have been beheaded and the descendant of a common police inspector would be sitting on the throne today.

In his place would have been King Anthony I - an export trader and author of a vehicle law manual who claimed to be the direct descendant of Henry VIII.

For the first time, it has been revealed how the ravings of the eccentric crank, Anthony Hall caused widespread panic amongst the authorities, stretching to the King himself.

Newly released documents show how the 1930s conman was tracked by Special Branch as he toured cities claiming to be the rightful heir to the Crown as the descendant of an illegitimate love-child by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn before they wed.

As well as preaching treason, the fraudster wrote directly to King George V in February 2, 1931, accusing him of being a German with no claim to the Crown.

He wrote: 'The whole world has been hoodwinked for 328 years.

'You have no connection with the British Royal Family. You are an outsider.

'Therefore leave the country. I claim the Crown.'

He also threatened to arrest the King for treason, saying that even if he went to the Prime Minister and 'pulled his beard', King George V would still be chucked out of Britain.

Astonishingly, his scurrilous claims were not only taken seriously by the public, but also the police, Home Office and the King himself, who secretly wanted Hall committed to a lunatic asylum, according to documents held at the National Archive in Kew.


In a frantic flurry of letters between Buckingham Palace, Special Branch and the Chief Constable of Birmingham, officials debated how to silence the grand pretender.

The King's private secretary, Sir Clive Wigram wrote to police: 'His Majesty quite agrees that a stop should be put to his effusions, but feels that it might not look well for a man who is so obviously demented to get six months imprisonment.

'Would it not be possible to keep him under observation with a view to his final detention in an institution.'

Throughout the summer of 1931, Hall made a series of raving speeches to 800-strong crowds, proclaiming to be King Anthony, the 23rd descendant of the Tudors.

Police reports at the time noted: 'In referring to the King of England, Hall states that he would have no hesitation in shooting him as he would a dog. The King was a German; a pure bred German and had not right to rule this country.

'He hoped to be the first policeman to become king, the first policeman to cut off the king's head.'

According to Hall, his family should have inherited the Crown when Elizabeth I died in 1603. Instead he claimed an imposter called James Erskine usurped the throne becoming James I.

Under a 'Twenty Year Plan', Hall planned to rule the country, solving unemployment, paying off the national debt, nationalizing the police force, electrifying the railways, making hospital and dental care free and building millions of homes for the working classes.

Eventually the authorities caught up with him and he was fined £25 in July 23 and 27, 1931 at a Birmingham court for disturbing the peace.

Although the King wanted him to be sectioned, the public assistance committee in lunacy and prison doctors could not find enough evidence to detain him and he disappeared shortly afterwards to escape further scrutiny.

Documents published today reveal that far from being the descendant of kings, Hall was born in London in 1898 and grew up in the small village of Little Dewchurch, near Hereford. He served in Ypres in the First World War where he was gassed, before joining Shropshire Police in 1919 and leaving in disgrace in 1927 to go to Canada. When he died in 1947 he left no male heir, and his brother who lived in America wisely did not pursue the family claim.