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The man who would be king - of Scotland?

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Michael James Alexander stewart is traveling around Scotland delivering speeches. He argues that the Scots need a new style of monarchy and that they could do a whole lot worse than send Queen Elizabeth II packing and have him as king.

As voters prepare to elect Scotland's first Parliament in more than 300 years, this slender native of Belgium - who styles himself "His Royal Highness Prince Michael, 7th Count of Albany" - says that the "very English monarchy" offered by Elizabeth and other Windsors is "definitely not to my taste, and is certainly unsuited to Scotland."

The pretender to the Scottish throne adds, with a smile: "Actually, I'm a socialist, and in the May 6 general election I'll be voting for the Scottish National Party." The SNP is campaigning for a wholly independent Scotland, separate from the United Kingdom. The Parliament that will be elected on May 6 will be a "devolved" legislature, with Elizabeth continuing as queen of the United Kingdom including Scotland.

The man who claims the throne of the Scots was born in Belgium. At 18 he quit a job as an insurance broker in Brussels and went to Scotland, where he has lived ever since. He says he is the "the rightful heir" to King James II, who was chased from the British throne in 1688. Asked about his Belgian accent, he points out, correctly, that all James II's descendants have lived in exile in continental Europe.

In a bestselling book, "The Forgotten Monarchy of Scotland," Mr. Stewart argues that Charles Edward Stuart - better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, who in 1745 staged a failed attempt to seize the British throne - later married Marguerite de Lussan, Comptesse de Missillan.

"I'm descended from the male line of that marriage," Stewart insists, asserting that "Stewart," not " Stuart," is the correct spelling of the family name.

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