All my life, I wanted someone to make a movie or television show about Bonnie Prince Charlie and the events of “The 45”, a period of history that stands out as dramatic and tragic even in Scotland that has a story filled with dramatic and tragic events. And Outlander was what they came up with (I don’t like it because I don’t think they portrayed Charles Stuart in a fair or accurate way).
Last week, I introduced you to James Stuart, this man’s father. They could not have been more different. Charles was restless and active, with great reserves of energy and physical courage. He was also described as a very magnetic personality, unlike his stern and rather retiring father.
This is the man who successfully invaded Britain and marched his army of Highlanders to within two hundred miles of London. The Spanish Armada, Napoleon, the Nazis and many others who attempted or would have liked to attempt the same thing never came so close.
If his men had to dig a ditch or cross a river, he joined in their labour. He also sent his own physicians to tend the wounded of the enemy.
In his honour, many songs have been written, but the events that effectively ended a centuries old family system in the Highlands haunted him all of his life. “When I reflect on the brave fellows who suffered in my cause that does strike me to the heart, and does sink very deep within me.”
He managed to escape with his life and continued to rally the powers around Europe to support another invasion. By the middle of his life he was a broken, drunken and pathetic man who was violent to his girlfriends and wife. “You don’t want friends, you want victims,” one of them wrote.
Late in his life, he took an interest in the events of the American Revolution. He was also consoled by the care and love of his daughter, who was perhaps the only person who ever truly loved him. His favourite song was called Lochaber No More. The Rankin family has a beautiful version of this ancient song if you’d like to listen. This portrait is of a very good looking man, in my opinion! But it may not be of him at all. After all this time, it’s been revealed that it is actually of his younger brother, Henry Stuart.