Deadly Diseases the Royal Family Has Been Plagued With Throughout History

Royals enjoy a lot of perks. However, one of the downsides of being a member of the royal family is the number of diseases that are common in the gene pool. Centuries of inbreeding have led to genetic mutations. Find out what diseases have plagued royal families for centuries.


King James I sitting on a throne.

The main cause of King Jame I’s death. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Porphyria “refers to a group of disorders that result from a buildup of natural chemicals that produce porphyrin in your body,” the Mayo Clinic says. King James I’s personal physician recorded episodes in 1613 and 1615 where the King suffered from symptoms of porphyria, according to List Verse. He died in 1625 from Porphyria and the inability to speak or swallow.


King George V stands in front of a wall in a decorated uniform.

His death was very controversial. | YouTube

King George V suffered from pleurisy. This occurs when a membrane in the chest cavity becomes inflamed, according to the Mayo Clinic. His cause of death was listed as pleurisy but in 1986 it was revealed the King was euthanized by his physician. The King was given a fatal cocktail at the request of his wife. While he was comatose, the doctor administered fatal doses of cocaine and morphine, The New York Times says.

Undiagnosed mental illness

Joanna the Mad illustrated in black and white.

Joanna the Mad’s life was made hard by mental illnesses. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Joanna the Mad, Ludwig II of Bavaria, and Charles VI of France are just three royals who suffered from mental illnesses. Joanna the Mad was extremely jealous her philandering husband, she cut off the hair of his mistress, according to Mental Floss. Ludwig II of Bavaria was deemed insane by a doctor after years of hearing voices and living as a hermit. Charles VI of France began having seizures in 1392. After, he would have bouts with mental illness, where he’d forget his own name, his family, and believe he was made of glass.


Richard III illustrated in black and white.

Scoliosis made his life very difficult. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Richard III, suffered from scoliosis as a child and into adulthood. Symptoms worsened as he got older. The University of Leicester examined his spine, noting a curvature, caused by scoliosis. According to List Verse, “in life, his left shoulder would’ve been much lower than the right and from the pressure scoliosis exerts on the lungs.”

McLeod Syndrome

King Henry VIII sitting on a throne.

King Henry VIII suffered through many painful symptoms. | Hulton Archive/Handout/Getty Images

King Henry VIII, known for killing his wives, may have suffered from McLeod syndrome. According to the National Institute of Health, mcLeod syndrome is a neurological disorder found almost exclusively in men and boys. Some symptoms include muscle weakness, muscle degeneration, lack of self-restraint, depression, and anxiety. King George VIII could barely walk when he was middle aged and was paranoid, according to List Verse. His lack of self-restraint may explain him beheading his wives.


A doctor holding a vial with blood.

Hemophilia seemed to run through royal blood. | Jarun011/iStock/Getty Images

Hemophilia is commonly known as the “Royal disease” because the disease has plagued many royals. Hemophilia is a blood disease where blood won’t clot, the Mayo Clinic says. Many of Queen Victoria’s male descendants died from hemophilia. The Queen’s son, Leopold, the Duke of Albany, died of blood loss after he tripped and fell, Science magazine says. The Romanov family also had Hemophilia. After DNA analysis, it was discovered the Romanov family suffered from a rare subtype of the disease, hemophilia B, according to Science magazine.


A person holds their foot.

Gout is a very painful disease. |

Gout, referred to as the disease of kings, plagued King George VIII. The Mayo Clinic refers to gout as “sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe.” According to Health magazine, the King was “overweight and is often pictured holding a chunk of meat or glass of wine.” The magazine added all three of these things increase an individual’s risk of getting gout.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!