Meet the Maryland man who became a king
By Andrea MorabitoSeptember 8, 2015 | 6:00am
Call it a redneck-to-royalty fairy tale.
Once upon a time (in 2007), Maryland auto repairman David “Drew” Howe made global headlines when he was crowned King of the Isle of Man — after discovering he was related to the tiny British island’s last ruling family while researching his ancestry online.
So, in May he, his wife Pam and their 12-year-old daughter, Grace, decided to take a six-week trip to his ancestral homeland to embrace their noble lineage — a fish-out-of-water journey documented in the new TLC reality series “Suddenly Royal” (premiering Wednesday at 10 p.m.) “I made my claim to being the king. I guess I need to visit my kingdom,” Howe, 45, tells The Post of his decision to make the trek to the Isle of Man (population: 85,000).
Howe first started researching his genealogy nine years ago on Ancestry.com, keeping a blog for family members on his findings. A man in the UK found it and contacted Howe, saying he may have a claim to being King of the Isle of Man based on the fact that he is descended (on his mother’ s side) from Thomas Stanley III, Lord of Man.
Pam was supportive, if a little bewildered, by her husband’s royal discovery. “I had no expectations of him ever being able to rule or anything like that. There was this in-name-only type of idea,” she says. “Did I think ‘Wow this is weird?’ Yes. But I’m married to Drew, so … weird is not anything new for me in terms of our relationship.”
Though Howe’s official claim filed in the London Gazette wasn’t disputed at the time, once his story made headlines he was widely criticized in the British press, who questioned the legitimacy of his claim. Locals, meanwhile, have voiced their steadfast loyalty to the Crown, which assumed lordship for the island (located in the Irish Sea between England and Scotland) in 1765.
“I was very ignorant of what it was to be royalty,” Drew says of the initial bad publicity. His visit was likewise met with mixed reception from the locals — if they knew who he was at all. “Not everybody is happy to see me,” he says. “People become territorial. I had to explain myself a few times, put it that way.”
The seven episodes of “Suddenly Royal” follow the Howes as they attempt to integrate into the culture— learning the local Manx language and traditions as well as hiring an etiquette coach and royal adviser. But would Drew actually want to make his role official, and become their head of government?
“The [goal of the] trip was … to investigate that possibility, because I really do take my claim seriously,” he says. “It was important, too, to meet the people and see what they think about us. “Ultimately, you have to have the support of the people before you can begin to think about making a better place for them.”
Whether that story ends happily ever after or not will be revealed in the season finale.