‘Significant chance most people in Britain are a descendant of Edward III’
MANY a celebrity has sought to boost their credentials by revealing they are descended from kings and queens on genealogy programmes.
But according to a leading geneticist, their boasts are nothing special “because we are all related to royalty”.
BBC broadcaster Adam Rutherford said shows like BBC1’s Who Do You Think You Are? often try to identify someone in a celebrity’s family tree with “fame or infamy”.
Last year EastEnders actor Danny Dyer said he could “not compute” it after the show revealed he was a descendant of 14th century king Edward III.
And after featuring on a genealogy show in the US, Sir Richard Branson last year boasted of the “extraordinary family fact” that he was related to Charlemagne, who ruled much of Western Europe from 768 to 814.
But yesterday Dr Rutherford, who has a PhD in genetics, said that this was not remarkable at all.
Speaking at the Chalke Valley History Festival, he said that “literally” everyone in Europe had a direct lineage to Charlemagne, while there was a “significant” chance most people in Britain are a descendant of Edward III.
The only difference between us and celebrities is that most of us don’t have the means to prove it.
He said he and a team at University College London had worked on the notion that you have two parents, who also had two parents, and so on, working backwards to form an ever expanding family tree.
From this, they were able to work out that everyone living in Europe in the 10th century, and so before, was somehow related to everyone who now lives on the same continent.
Dr Rutherford, who presents BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science, said: “When you do family trees and in things like Who Do You Think You Are?… the real key comes in managing to identify someone of fame or infamy in your family tree.
“And the reason I quip that story is because this is fundamentally not how genetics works.
“Richard Branson last year announced that he had looked into his family tree and found he was 40 generations away from Charlemagne.
“Literally every person in Europe is directly descended from Charlemagne. Literally, not metaphorically.
You have a direct lineage which leads to Charlemagne.”
He said: “Looking around this room, every single one of you… is directly descended between 21 and 24 generations from Edward III.” – Daily Mail
‘Literally’ everyone in Europe has a direct lineage to Charlemagne
British entrepreneur Richard Branson says he is related to Charlemagne, who ruled much of Western Europe from 768 to 814.