Are you related to a royal?
When King Richard III was reinterred recently the actor Benedict Cumberbatch was given the opportunity to read a eulogy, owing to the fact that he was distantly related to the deceased. He will also be playing the King in an upcoming adaptation of Shakespeare's play. This connection might seem like a remarkable fluke of chance, but it's actually a lot more likely than you might think. In fact, if you're a resident of the UK, you have a good chance of being descended from royalty. Here is a brief overview of how common royal connections are, and how you might go about discovering your royal blood.
Contender to the throne?
The percentage estimate for residents in the UK that have a royal branch to their family tree lies between 20% and 50%, depending on who you ask. At the very least, there is a one in five chance of a connection, which suggests that there should be an awful lot more competition for the Crown of England. So why is this figure so high?
Partly this depends on the general rule that the further you go back along the tree, especially within a relatively small population, the more likely it is that you'll find connections between people that are alive today. It is also indicative of the large amount of lesser royals that have played a part in British history, and their subsequent marriages, and the large amount of illegitimate royal children too. So, before you stake your claim to the throne, it's worth noting that your royal blood might not be entirely official.
Having said that, it's not unheard of for people researching their family history to discover grants which are stipulated for descendants of a particular noble figure, so it may well be worth looking into. People can trace back connections as far back as Alfred the Great, so if you're lucky, you may even find that you're related to more than one royal line.
Clues to your royal descent
The process of going about researching your links to royalty should be approached in the same manner as any other family tree research - starting with the known generations and working back into the unknown. That said, there are some clues that you might find along the way which can help to make the connections easier. Royal names, sometimes given as middle names and passed down through first children, can sometimes denote a link to a royalty. Similarly, exceptional gifts that come apparently from nowhere, such as land or commissions, and are given to a child as their birthright, can suggest a possible legitimate or illegitimate relationship with a royal person.
The best way to go about researching any kind of family history is to go through a good genealogy website or society, which can help connect you with the right resources and take you through the process step by step. So if you're curious about finding out whether there really is anything behind that sense of natural superiority in your veins, why not look into it today?