First, from the New Statesman, by Amy Licence:
History also provides examples of royal births which illuminate the pressures experienced by queens, whose role required them to deliver the future, in a literal and metaphorical sense. Henry VIII’s marital exploits are well known, but the birth of his first son, early in his reign, is less well remembered. Following his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, in 1509, Henry began the quest to father a son which would last for the next 28 years. It was to be far more difficult to achieve than he could ever have imagined. Early in 1511, Catherine delivered a boy whom they named Henry. When the news was proclaimed, London went into celebration. Days of public rejoicing and partying followed, with bells ringing, wine flowing, cannons at the Tower booming and bonfires burning in the streets. The boy was given a magnificent christening, with jousts, pageants, feasts and tournaments: it was the second most expensive occasion of Henry’s reign, outshone only by the legendary Field of Cloth of Gold. A special gallery was built for Catherine and her ladies to watch the proceedings and it seemed as if the future of the Tudor dynasty was secure.
However, tragedy struck. Before the child was two months old, he succumbed to one of the infant illnesses of the day. Had he lived, the little prince would have become Henry IX of England. Although it is not possible to rewrite history, the implications of his imagined survival help us understand the impact of his premature death. Had this child lived, the well-known story of Henry’s six wives almost certainly would not have happened. Perhaps the course of the English Reformation would also have played out differently. There would have been no Edward VI, no Mary I or even Queen Elizabeth. The imagined reign of Henry IX is another historical “whatif” which provides a fascinating alternative path for English history; save for one small twist of fate, perhaps even an infection that may easily be cleared up by antibiotics today, it may have become established historical fact. The life and death of this tragic prince truly did shape the future of his country.
And this from the Mirror:
What if the monarch's oldest child - even if it was a girl - had always inherited the throne? Well, we could all be Catholic... and speaking German.
VICTORIA II NOT EDWARD VIIBy marrying Frederick II of Prussia in 1858, Queen Victoria's oldest child, daughter Victoria, 17, became Empress of Germany and Queen of Prussia.
She would have become Britain's queen on January 21, 1901, when her mother died. But she died of breast cancer on August 5 that year.
The throne would then have gone to her son - Kaiser Wilhelm II who led Germany during the First World War.
ELIZABETH II NOT CHARLES IIf we'd let the oldest child inherit the throne 400 years ago, it could have prevented the English Civil War. On the death of James I in 1625, his daughter Elizabeth would have become queen, instead of Charles I. Her descendants were the rulers of Hanover, who later become Britain's kings - her ninth great granddaughter is the real Elizabeth II.
MARGARET I NOT HENRY VIIIAfter the death of Henry VII in 1509, eldest daughter Margaret Tudor could have become monarch instead of the most famous king of all, Henry VIII.
Without Henry's plea in vain for the Pope to annul his heirless marriage to Catherine of Aragon would there have been an English Reformation at all?
Margaret had married James IV of Scotland and their Stuart line ended up inheriting England's throne anyway.
ELIZABETH I NOT EDWARD VMaybe she had a lucky escape, otherwise Elizabeth - eldest child of Edward IV, could have been murdered by her uncle (later Richard III) just like her brothers, the Princes in the Tower.
She became Queen Consort when she married Henry VII. So she was the daughter, sister, niece, wife and mother of monarchs Edward IV and V, Richard III, Henry VII and VIII.
But, as Captain James T. Kirk certainly knows, you just can't mess with the space-time continuum!