200.1 Dear Stolf: I was reading where Prince Charles and Camilla Shand Parker-Bowles are related to each other…to what degree being a matter of some controversy, owing to the inconvenient issue of wives versus mistresses. But thinking back, weren’t Charles and Diana related as well? ….from Omar Q. Regalgawker, Munching-on-the-Thaimes
200.2 Dear Omar: In a word, yes. Now to put this in context, demographers and mathematicians have calculated…roughly…that everyone alive today is related to everyone else by at most 50th cousins…and the vast majority of course are a lot closer. Among Europeans the outside limit is about 35th cousins…for Britons, 25th cousins…for the British aristocracy, around 15th cousins.
200.3 A quick check of the internet gives Charles and Diana as 11th cousins once removed…even a couple of astrology site agree. And before you start to chortle over that, I should say that however dubious their premise…that the stars and planets control our destiny…astrologers tend to be meticulous when it comes to genealogy…and when it comes to astronomy for that matter…after all, whatever Pluto is, it’s still out there, nez pah?
200.4 And before even investigating that claim, I should say that it sounds reasonable…first cousins 11 times removed, for example, would not sound reasonable. The simple reason is that Charles and Diana were alive at the same time…meaning their genealogical generations co-existed…and how many generations of a family can you expect to have living representatives at any given point in time? In Chart 718, we are assuming that this family starts a new generation when a member reaches the age of 20…and all the the relatives shown were still alive in the year 2000. (BTW, Quntus’ parents purposely left the “i” out of Quintus to see if anybody noticed…nobody did.)
200.5 Here we have 6 generations coexisting…and notice that the 4 generations from Primus to Quadrus have living representatives coexisting for 40 years (1960-2000). Taking my mother’s family as a real-life example, with me as the youngest, 4 generations back to my great grandparents lasted only about 10 years, which I think is more typical. You’ll occasionally see pictures in the newspaper of 5 living generations, but that’s rare. And truth be told, 6 generations is hardly the theoretical limit, if you had a family that as a matter of tradition starts reproducing at age 15 instead of 20. But in Chart 718, the 4 generations of Primus to Quadrus makes Quadrus and Fred first cousins 3 times removed…thus 4 times removed is unusual, and anything beyond that is likely a mistake in genealogical reckoning.
200.6 At any rate, Chart 719 confirms that Elizabeth II and Diana Spencer were 11th cousins, making Charles and his wife 11th cousins once removed. And while Charles was the elder by chronological age, Diana belonged to the older generation, so she was the ascending, he was the descending. How close is that? I noticed one commenter’s opinion: “Even though it’s distant, it’s not right!!”…showing admirable restraint in limiting themselves to a mere 2 exclamation points.
200.7 But here’s the tale of the tape: they shared 1/16,777,216 of their genes…that’s a bit more than one out of 17 million. When you consider that human beings only have about 25,000 genes, it was highly likely that the number of genes they shared by descent was zero. Mathematically, Charles and Diana shared .00000596% of their genes by descent, and did not share the rest, that being 99.99999404%. They were as unrelated as you can be…genetically, there is no practical difference between 11th cousins and 50th cousins…altho genealogically there is a world of difference, which is why we do all this in the first place.
200.8 In Chart 719, I have indicated British monarchs with a purple-and-gold box…and I have gone to the trouble of showing all of them from James I to Elizabeth II. You will notice that there are 2 breaks in the continuity of parent-to-child. George I succeeded his second cousin Anne not because there wasn’t anyone closer…there were around 50 individuals closer….but because those closer were Catholics, and by the Act of Settlement in 1701, you had to be Protestant…and George I was Anne’s closest Protestant relative. The other break occurred when Victoria succeeded her first cousin William IV…and that had to do merely with who was alive and who wasn’t…her father was a King’s fourth son, but not only was he dead, but so were his older 3 brothers, and those 3 had no heirs at that point.
200.9 But as a result of these breaks, the monarchy, in the years directly after James I, shifted from Diana’s side to Charles’ side. And this is significant, because when it comes to aristocratic families, you don’t get much more blue-blooded than the Spencer family. To wit: the consensus among genealogists is that however you quantify “British royal blood flowing thru one’s veins,” the Spencers have a lot more of it than the Windsors, regardless of who’s sitting on the throne.
200.10 Take Elizabeth II and Diana…as 11th cousins, they share James I and his wife Anne of Denmark as 10G grandparents. But each also has 8190 other 10G grandparents and their accompanying families and ancestors. Now they also share some of those other 16,380…and many of those “slots” are filled by the same individuals, shared or not. But a large number on the Windsor side are Germans…and a large number on the Spencer side are not…but are instead Tudors, Stuarts, William the Conqueror, Mary Queen of Scots, etc. It didn’t get much press on this side of the Atlantic, but Diana and her kin would talk about her marrying into a family of Germans…or “Huns” if they were feeling catty…so none of this was lost on those involved. In fact, in private, Diana was known to occasionally “pull rank” on her in-laws, if reports are to be believed…hardly endearing behavior, but there you go.
200.11 As for the connection between Charles and Camilla, there are 2…the official one, scrubbed and cleansed, is ninth cousins once removed, as per Chart 720…Charles being Camilla’s mother’s ninth cousin, so he is the ascending and Camilla is the descending. I found on the net several mentions of ninth cousins not removed, but these omitted Catherine Tufton…making Catherine Cavendish the mother of Catherine Watson, when it should be grandmother. As a rule, I use a woman’s birth or maiden name on trees and pedigree charts…this is for more precise identification, since a woman can have several married names but only one birth name. And in Chart 720, Catherine Cavendish when married became Catherine Tufton…and her daughter was also Catherine Tufton, who then became Catherine Watson, whose daughter was also Catherine Watson…my way helps you keep better track.
200.12 If however…and rest assured it’s a big if however…Camilla’s great grandmother did the wild thing with Edward VII, then Camilla is half-second cousin to Elizabeth II and half-second cousin once removed to Charles. Feeling lazy, I decided to go with a chart I found online without redoing it…notice the line between Edward and Alice Edmonstone is dotted, not solid…ahem…’nuff said.
200.13 But wait! There’s more! The old English gentry are entangled in innumerable ways, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that Elizabeth II and Sarah Ferguson’s grandmother were fourth cousins, making Fergie’s erstwhile hubby Prince Andrew her fifth cousin once removed. And since this traces back to the Cavendish clan, Sarah and Camilla are tenth cousins, as per Chart 721. And here’s the kicker…the reason Charles and Diana were called 11th cousins once removed was because this was thru royal lines…as we saw, back to James I. But they were related in other ways that were closer, just not as illustrious…the nearest I’ve found is seventh cousins once removed, thru another Cavendish line. Just sayin’…
200.14 Dear Stolf: With your interest in the family matters of the Royals, whatchoo think of this? …from Sir Benditt Kwayle-Overbite, QED, ESP, LMNOP
200.15 Dear Benny, if I may be sold bold as to call you that: Yeah, I did happen to see that at Mail Online, the cyber wing of the Daily Mail, UK’s redoubtable bottom-feeding tabloid. And the first thing that springs out at you is the word “plotted” which is, honestly, overreaching. Indeed, the young Queen did do several things to make situations at Buckingham Palace cleave more to her liking, as was her right…but they were hardly earth-shattering…family matters really…and what a family, sez me.
200.16 The most famous example being her breaking with tradition and declaring that Windsor would remain the Royal House…by past precedence, it should have been Mountbatten, her husband’s. Recall that the Royal House is essentially the house…or today, the surname…of the royal offspring…the Queen herself is forever a Windsor, married or not. Philip complained publicly that he was the only man in the realm not permitted to give his children his last name…true enough, but that’s their system. And the royal kids do today consider themselves Mountbatten-Windsors, in deference to him, whereas by law they are just plain Windsors.
200.17 But that word “plotted” sure gives a 61-year-old tale an added tang. Reading these subheads provided with the article, they do flesh out the details…end result: the whole thing seems nothing but reasonable. What you must realize is that as hidebound by tradition the laws of succession may seem, they are just that: simply laws. Now in the old days, might made right, and the law…or which law shall we have?…was upheld by force. Today, instead of armed conflict in the streets, such things are decided before learned magistrates in oaken courtrooms. But it still comes down to what is the law?
200.18 And the law in place in 1953 was the Regency Act of 1937…here regency refers to the guardianship of a monarch who is not yet of legal age. Well, “official” guardian, since we are assuming here that just one parent dies, and Charles did have 2 parents after all. As things stood, had Elizabeth dropped dead in 1953, 4-year-old Charles would have been King, and the law stated that the next claimant in line to the throne, assuming they were 21 years old, would be Regent, acting in Charles’ place until he hit 18. And that would have been that crazy mixed up kid, Princess Margaret, at the time aged 23 and dating a commoner, and a divorced commoner to boot. Such a possibility disturbed Elizabeth…and Philip too, remember him?…and they were rightly moved to propose a remedy, the Regency Act of 1953, which named Philip the potential Regent.
200.19 The provisions of this act have long since become moot. But in 1953, all and sundry thought the change completely prudent…yes, it was traditional, and in some sense logical, that a Regent also be a Royal, but in the general scheme of things, even things Britannic, it wasn’t that big a deal. In case you were wondering about Margaret’s take on all this, she was fully on board, so really, there’s not much of a story here…politicians fiddled and fussed for a time, as they will, but that was it. One interesting tidbit…the new law eliminated a strange anomaly…that a Monarch came of age when 18, but a Regent had to be 21…which seemed a bit cockeyed and was changed.
But we were speaking of Mountbattens…and if you’re yearning for something more salacious, and seventh, ninth, or 13th cousins just doesn’t do it for you, I have something I think you’ll like. Before Diana, Charles proposed to his second cousin, Amanda Knatchbull. As you can see in Chart 722, Charles’ paternal grandmother and Amanda’s maternal grandfather were siblings. In fact, that grandfather was Prince Philip’s favorite uncle, the second Lord and Admiral Mountbatten…his father Louis Alexander, who married one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters, was the first. While Amanda was deciding whether to accept or not, her grandfather and grandmother were killed by an IRA bomb planted on their fishing boat. She decided not. Philip went with Di.
Interesting about the Mountbatten surname. The first Lord was born in Austria, and eventually became a naturalized British citizen. The second Lord was born in London, but at the time the family name was Battenberg, in due course anglicized to Mountbatten. Now when Prince Philip was born on the Greek island of Corfu, he had no last name, since his father had none. When he became a Brit, his original choices for surname included Oldburgh and Oldcastle, based on Oldenberg or Oldenborg, the Germanic house of which his family belonged to an offshoot. For whatever reason…you’d have to have been there…this was considered too pedestrian and he was encouraged to go with his grandfather’s surname Mountbatten…technically not his mother’s, since she went by Battenberg up until the time she was married.
And if it sounds like old Phil got “pushed around” a lot, well, he knew what he was getting into and the pluses apparently outweighed the minuses, if you follow my drift and I think you do. BTW…when perusing Chart 722, did you notice that besides being Charles’ second cousin on his father’s side, Amanda was also his fourth cousin on the Queen’s side? You did? Brilliant.
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