Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Might Be Related — and They’re Not the Only Royal Couple
The recent report that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle might be related puts them in a common category: royals who marry their relatives. In fact, for centuries royals would lose their right to the throne if they married commoners.
Today the rule is no longer enforced. However, you’ll be surprised by the number of modern-day royal couples who share common ancestors. Here we’ll look at eight royal marriages involving spouses who were related.
1. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
It turns out Harry and Meghan are related through a 15th century ancestor of the Queen Mother. Ralph Bowes lived from 1480 to 1516, according to a family tree. Bowes’ great-great grandson left England in 1632 to help found Nantucket, Massachusetts. Meghan descends from him through her father.
As for Harry’s bloodline, the Bowes name persisted all the way to the Queen Mother, whose full name was Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon. So, in short, Harry and Meghan are 15th cousins.
Next: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
2. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who recently celebrated their 70th anniversary, are second cousins once removed. The common ancestor is Christian IX of Denmark. The two are also third cousins because they are both great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria, who died in 1901.
Although the two are related, their marriage was not arranged. They met and fell in love when Elizabeth was just 13, but they didn’t marry until she was 21.
Next: William and Kate
3. Prince William and Kate Middleton
You might be surprised to hear that William and Kate are related as well. The two are 12th cousins, once removed. Their common ancestor was a Sir Thomas Leighton, who was William’s 12th generation great-grandfather and Kate’s 11th.
In a nutshell, Kate and William are each descended from different daughters of Leighton, whose wife was the queen’s cousin, Daily Mail reported in 2010.
Next: Charles and Diana
4. Prince Charles and Princess Diana
Prince Charles and Princess Diana, who wed in 1981, were seventh cousins, once removed. They were related through William Cavendish, third Duke of Devonshire, who died in 1755. Charles descends (through his grandmother, the Queen Mother) from William’s son, while Diana descended from William’s daughter.
Next: The Queen Mother and George VI
5. Elizabeth I and George VI
As you can see, keeping it in the family (no matter how distant the relation) has remained quite common among royals. Another example is that of Elizabeth I (the Queen Mother) and King George VI. They were 13th cousins, both descended from Henry VII of England, who died in 1509.
The couple married in 1923, after she had turned down two of his previous proposals. They became king and queen in 1936.
Next: Prince Charles’ younger brother
6. Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones
Prince Edward followed in his older brother Prince Charles’ footsteps in that he married a relative. He and Sophie Rhys-Jones are 11th cousins, according to one expert. Their closest common ancestor is said to be Nicholas St. John, who died in 1589.
The prince and Rhys-Jones married in 1999, having met at a tennis match in 1993. They have two children together, Louise, 14, and James, 10.
Next: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
7. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
If you watched PBS hit show Victoria, you got a glimpse into the life of Queen Victoria. She was already queen when she married her first cousin Albert in 1840 when she was 20 years old.
The couple shared ancestors Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and his wife, who were grandparents to both Victoria and Albert.
Next: A couple who ruled both England and India
8. King George and Mary of Teck
This pair wed in 1893 and reigned over both England and India. They were said to be second cousins, with their common ancestor being King George III, who died in 1820. They ruled England until 1936, when George passed away and was succeeded by his son Edward VIII.
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