This is what Bonnie Prince Charlie looked like

This is what Bonnie Prince Charlie looked like

Reconstructed appearance of Prince Charles Edward Stuart at the age of 24 – at this age he led the Jacobite Rising. © University of Dundee

Known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie", Prince Charles Edward Stuart is one of the most famous figures in Scottish history. As the son of the exiled King James III. as a young man, researchers have now reconstructed using a new method: they created 3D models of the prince's death mask and then used "de-aging" software to digitally rejuvenate his face. The result is a portrait that shows Charles Edward Stuart at the age of 24 - at a historically crucial time.

Born in December 1720, Prince Charles Edward Stuart belonged to the Scottish royal family of the Stuarts, his grandfather James II also sat on the English throne from 1685 to 1688. But the reign of the Catholic Stuart king did not last long: in England, resistance to absolutist rule increased, while at the same time the predominantly Protestant subjects in England resisted the Catholic Stuart king. A revolution ensued, during which James II and his family were forced to flee England. The Protestant William III ascended the English throne. of the House of Orange and his wife, the eldest daughter of James II.

Battle for the Throne and the Battle of Culloden

Prince Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of the exiled Stuart King and son of James III, heir to the Stuart throne. was therefore born in Roman exile. But from an early age he strove, together with the so-called Jacobites, to bring his family back to the English throne. These efforts culminated in the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745: Charles, along with French allies, landed in Scotland and fought alongside some Highland clans against the English king's troops. In April 1746, at the Battle of Culloden near Inverness, Scotland, there was a great battle between government troops and the Jacobites under Prince Charles, in which the Stuart supporters lost.

Charles Stuart, nicknamed Bonnie Prince Charlie by the Scots because of his apparently good looks, was forced to flee Britain and spent the rest of his life in mainland Europe. When he died of a stroke in Rome at the age of 67, a plaster death mask was made. The body of the Stuart Prince was embalmed and first buried in a cathedral near Rome, later it was reburied in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica. Bonnie Prince Charlie's quest for the throne and the Battle of Culloden has since inspired numerous legends, plays and novels, and the prince also appears in the book series Outlander.

With death mask and de-aging software

Now, for the first time, a team from the University of Dundee has reconstructed what the Stuart Prince looked like at the time of the Jacobite Rising. Unlike previous attempts, Barbora Veselá's team used the latest methods of digital reconstruction. "I looked at earlier reconstructions of historical figures and wanted to find out whether there was another way," explains the researcher. To do this, she first scanned two copies of Charles Edward Stuart's historical death mask and created a 3D model of his facial features based on hundreds of photos.

The team then used software that can be used to digitally rejuvenate a person's facial features - for example, by smoothing wrinkles, tightening contours and reversing other typical signs of aging. The result is a portrait of the young "Bonnie Prince". "Prince Charlie was only 24 years old when he landed in Scotland in 1745," says Veselá. "Visualizing his appearance at this pivotal moment in history is fascinating." The reconstructed portrait depicts a young man with expressive brown eyes and a pronounced, straight nose. However, whether he is pretty is in the eye of the beholder, says the researcher.

"I hope that this reconstruction will make people see him as a person, not just as a legend," says Veselá. "Being able to look at his face helps us to see him as a person." However, it is important not to romanticize the Stuart prince or his era. The bust of young Bonnie Prince Charlie based on the reconstruction is now on display at the University of Dundee.

Source: University of Dundee

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