Is Princess Eugenie Related to Her New Husband, Jack Brooksbank?
Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank just tied the knot in the second royal wedding of the year. Like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Eugenie and Jack had their ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Queen Elizabeth II hosted the receptions for both couples. Both brides wore off-the-shoulder gowns and sparkly tiaras.
The couples also participated in many royal family traditions at their weddings — including one that they probably didn’t mean to follow. As it turns out, Princess Eugenie is actually distantly related to her new husband, Jack Brooksbank. But Harry and Meghan also have a common ancestor — as do other royal couples, including Prince William and Kate Middleton, and even Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
Here’s what you need to know about the family ties between Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank. (Plus, the scoop on how Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are related.)
Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank are distant cousins
As Business Insider reports, no sooner did Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank announce their engagement, then genealogy experts made “an observation almost as old as the British royal family itself: that the soon-to-be-married couple are blood relatives.”
Eugenie and Jack are distant cousins: third cousins once removed, to be exact. The couple shares common ancestor in the 19th century: aristocrat Thomas William Coke, the 2nd Earl of Leicester. Coke is Eugenie’s great-great-great-great grandfather on the side of her mother, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. Coke is Brooksbank’s great-great-grandfather via his second marriage. (Because the marriage occurred when Coke was older, and because of later marriages farther down the line, there are fewer generations on the Brooksbank side of the family.)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are also related
Surprisingly enough, even though Prince Harry grew up in London and Meghan Markle was born in California, these royal newlyweds are technically related, too. As Elle reports, “the famous pair are actually distant cousins, related through a late 15th Century ancestor of the Queen Mother.” Meghan’s ancestry can be traced back 15 generations to the High Sherrif of County Durham, Ralph Bowes.
Bowes’ grandson, Christopher Hussey, moved to America in 1632 and helped found Nantucket, Massachusetts. Meghan descends from that line. Meanwhile, Bowes’ great-grandson, George Bowes, became a member of parliament during the reign of King Charles II, and Harry descends from that line. It’s not that unusual for members of the royal family to marry people to whom they’re distantly related. But “What’s more bizarre is the fact that Prince Harry’s ancestor, Henry VIII, reportedly executed a relative of Markle,” Elle reports.
Prince William and Kate Middleton are very distant cousins, too
Prince Harry’s older brother, Prince William, also ended up marrying a woman with whom he shares common ancestry. William and his wife, Kate Middleton, are actually very distant cousins. Though much has been made of Kate’s middle-class background, Channel 4 News notes that she has an interesting link to British royalty, which makes William and Kate fourteenth cousins once removed through his mother and fifteenth cousins through his father:
Her great-great-grandmother, Frances Elizabeth Greenhow, was the 10 x great-granddaughter of Sir William Gascoigne, a Yorkshire knight who died in 1487. He married Lady Margaret Percy, 4th and youngest daughter of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland.
The Earl descended from King Edward III through both his parents. Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana both descend from Sir William Gascoigne and his wife Lady Margaret.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are even more closely related
As Business Insider notes, the phenomenon of British royalty marrying a distant relative “is not uncommon, especially given the relatively contained social circles in which the British aristocracy has traditionally moved.” The publication points out that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are related even more closely than Eugenie and Jack, since they have a common ancestor in Queen Victoria. They’re actually third cousins through Victoria.
“Historically, royal families were very closely linked because it was strongly discouraged to marry outside of the aristocracy,” Business Insider explains. “Until relatively recently, all descendants of the British monarch were legally obliged to ask his or her permission before marrying. In 2015, the British Parliament replaced that rule with a more limited one which only requires consent from the first six in the line of succession.”
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