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Oftentimes, a celebrity gets the royal treatment even when they aren’t part of the monarchy. It’s an act the Queen herself might look down upon. However, that shouldn’t be the case for celeb sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning. Although Elle played the enigmatic Catherine the Great on TV, it isn’t the Russian family the Fannings are descendent from. The sisters are related to both Kate Middleton and Queen Elizabeth.

Elle Fanning smiling
Elle Fanning | Stephane Cardinale/Getty Images

The elder Fanning’s career

Dakota Fanning worked as an actor around her small town in Georgia before landing roles in commercials and guest spots on shows like ER, Ally McBeal, and The Practice. Her big break came in 2001 when she was cast opposite Sean Penn in the movie I Am Sam. Her role as Penn’s daughter garnered her a Screen Actors Guild nomination, making her the youngest nominee ever, according to the Sag Awards website. Fanning was only seven at the time. 

Consistent work, opposite big-name stars, followed. She worked on the film War of the Worlds, starring Tom Cruise, and then went right back at it into Charlotte’s Web. The Secret Life of Bees and Coraline followed, but Fanning also wanted a normal teenage life. Instead of forgoing high school for on-set tutors or homeschooling, she went to regular school with normal teenagers. She credits her upbringing and somewhat normal adolescence for saving her from the pitfalls of fame.    

Although Fanning participated in many extracurricular activities during her high school days, she also kept filming. Cast as a member of the Volturi in the Twilight Saga New Moon and Eclipse films, Fanning worked on the movies while balancing her schooling. She did such a good job that her friends barely even remember she’s in the films. To them, she was just a regular teenager. 

Elle Fanning breaks onto the scene 

The start of the younger Fanning’s career is related to her sister’s. She played the younger versions of Dakota’s characters in I Am Sam and Taken. Her first independent role came at age four in Daddy Day Care. One of her biggest roles, and the role that she says distinguished her from her sister, was Maleficent. Fanning played Princess Aurora in the 2014 dark fantasy and changed the way she was perceived. 

Since then, she’s achieved success with one of her first comedic roles — The Great. The Hulu series takes a lighthearted look at Catherine the Great and her rise to power. But that’s not all Elle’s working on. According to People, she launched a production company, along with Dakota, called Lewellen Pictures. The first production is a crime thriller where the two sisters are lined up as executive producers. They also worked together on The Nightingale, a film set for release at the end of 2021. 

The royal line


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According to Insider, the Fannings are direct descendants of Edward III. He was King of England from 1327 to 1377. As the King, he declared that he was also the rightful heir to the French throne, a role obviously disputed by King Philip VI of France. The conflict led Edward and his army to descend upon France and wage battle after battle. This started the Hundred Years’ War, which is commonly divided into three separate phases, beginning with Edward III and his Edwardian War. 

According to Brit Royals, Edward III is Queen Elizabeth’s 17th great-grandfather. That’s not the only royal blood running through the Fanning line. E Online reports that the sisters are distant cousins of Kate Middleton’s — 21st cousins for reference. Maybe that’s the reason Elle has such an easy time playing Catherine the Great or Princess Aurora. Her royal blood must come alive when monarch roles are up for grabs.