G4BB part 16: Royal Action!

Royal Action!

16.1  In honor of the Royal Wedding (what Royal Wedding?…hey, good for you!), today we’ll take a peep at the mother lode of genealogical shenanigans, the Royal Houses of Europe. Large families and indiscriminate cross-border inbreeding yield a kaleidoscopic blizzard of kinship komplexities. International? Descendants of Queen Victoria, for example, today populate the Royal Families of Greece, Germany, Norway, Romania, Yugoslavia (as was), Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, and I’m sure many others. And I am confident in saying that because Prince Philip, as the oldest living Great Great Grandchild of Victoria, is in the line of succession in 16 countries, including Great Britain…at last check I believe he’s #522…Uncle Wiki has a list that goes up to #2398. But then, somebody new may have been born between yesterday and today, shoving Philip down a position…that’s how it works, you see.

16.2  You want inbreeding? Probably the worst case is that of Charles II of Spain. Going back 5 generations, your 2 Parents, 4 Grandparents, 8 Great Grandparents, 16 2G Grandparents, and 32 3G Grandparents, taken together normally represent 62 different individuals. In Charles’ case, it was only 32! Going back 2 more generations, 254 slots were filled by just 82 people! It’s said that his degree of in-breeding was almost double that of a Brother-Sister union, as impossible as that might sound at first blush. And of course, it took its toll: he had severe physical and emotional defects, and was sterile to boot, leading to the War of Spanish Succession. The technical term is “Pedigree Collapse,” and we’ll get into that one of these times.

16.3  One thing you’ll encounter with alarming frequency…which is not to say the peasants didn’t do it, too…is Uncles marrying their Nieces. Right off the bat, his Brother is now his Father-in-Law, and his Nephew becomes his Brother-in-Law. For her part, dear old Granny now does double duty as her Mother-in-Law, and that’s just the in-laws. Not for nothing, but Charles II’s Father and 2 of his Great Grandfathers married their Nieces, and genealogically speaking, we’re off to the races.

16.4  Today we’ll look at Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, and 5 of the ways in which they are blood relatives to each other. Undoubtably there are more, but these will give you the flavor of it. Chart 49 shows the most straightforward relationship, that of 3rd Cousins. And if you collected stamps as a kid, you know all these people already! That green stamp off to the side is Edward VIII, son of George V and older brother of George VI. He’s the one who abdicated, and while every British stamp since the beginning has featured the Sovereign’s picture, if only a shadowed profile, Edward appears on just 1 set, in 4 denominations…and no coins at all. Still, there were numerous prototypes of both…officially called “essays”…see today’s Wicked Ballsy. Just the other day, an item in the paper said the Brits are considering privatizing their postal system, and they hope this tradition will continue, at least until QEII’s 60th Anniversary later this year, being called her Diamond Jubilee, altho confusingly, a 75th Anniversary is also Diamond…actually, the reasoning is, 75 years of anything is difficult for a person to reach, so 60 qualifies…it’s 75 to commemorate an event.

16.5  So here in Chart 49 we have Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert (yes, the one “in a can”)…they are Great Great Grandparents to both Elizabeth and Philip…as you can see, their offspring, Siblings Edward VII and Alice are the Royal Pair’s Great Grandparents…Grandparents George V and Victoria are 1st Cousins…and Parents George VI and Alice are 2nd Cousins, making Elizabeth and Philip 3rd Cousins. In this and the subsequent charts, actual Sovereigns are in red, all others in black…a black with a Roman numeral was the King or Queen of someplace, just not Britain.

16.6  While 3rd Cousins is the most obvious relationship…just straight up the direct lines to Victoria…the closest relationship between Elizabeth and Philip is 2nd Cousins Once Removed, as shown in Chart 50. Members of the Greek and Danish Royal Houses are indicated by the appropriate flags, all others are British. And as I have done in the past, Philip is highlighted to show where he appears twice. This relationship derives from King Christian IX of Sweden, and you can see that Elizabeth’s Father George VI is 2nd Cousin to Philip’s Mother Alice on one side, and also 2nd Cousin to Philip himself on the other side, making Elizabeth and Philip 2nd Cousins Once Removed.

16.7  This is a good time to review exactly why 2C 1R is closer than 3C. Recall that a 2C 1R is your Father’s 2nd Cousin. His Son is then your 3rd Cousin. In creating that Son, a whole new blood-line is brought into the family, namely that of the 3rd Cousin’s Mother. Thus, whatever the degree of relationship between you and your 2C 1R, your relationship to his Son is half that. And it works the other way, too…your relationship to your 2C 1R’s Father, who is your 1C 2R (i.e. your Grandfather’s 1st Cousin) is double that of your relationship to your 2C 1R.

16.8  But here’s where it really gets interesting, because Victoria and Albert, both Great Great Grandparents to Elizabeth and Philip, were 1st Cousins to each other! Chart 51 shows this, Brits merging with Germans. Thus, their offspring were both Siblings and 2nd Cousins to each other…their Grandchildren both 1st and 3rd Cousins…Great Grandchildren both 2nd and 4th Cousins…and Great Great Grandchildren, like Elizabeth and Philip, both 3rd and double 5th Cousins to each other. And of course, any other ways that Victoria and Albert were related, over and above 1st Cousins, will trickle down the Family Tree to Elizabeth and Philip.

16.9  A couple of things about Chart 51…the first is George III…ever heard of him? Right, he was King during the American Revolution. But you’ll also notice that Victoria’s Father Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, was not a King…and the way they got from George to Victoria is a story in itself. George III was succeeded by his first Son George IV. When George IV died without an heir, No. 2 Son Frederick was already dead, and he too had no heir. Thus the Crown descended to William IV, the No. 3 Son…mind you, George had 9 Sons and 6 daughters. When William died…you guessed it, heirless…No. 4 Son Edward was also dead, but his only child, 18-year-old Victoria, wasn’t, so there you go. And you must understand, even back then, succession was technically determined not by tradition but by statute…and today there’s even talk of changing the old-fashioned procedure by which younger Sons leap-frog older Daughters. Could  happen….just takes a vote in Parliament and a stroke of the pen.

16.10  Getting back to Elizabeth and Philip, they are also 4th Cousins Once Removed. In Chart 52, on the left is the familiar direct line from Philip to Victoria, then thru Edward to George III. Elizabeth’s direct line parallels this line, and thus she and Philip are 3rd cousins as we’ve noted. But Elizabeth is also descended from George III by another route, thru George’s son Adolphus. As a result, Elizabeth is the 4th Cousin of Philip’s Mother Alice, and Philip’s 4C 1R. Are we having fun yet?!

16.11  But of course there are 2 sides to every family. Chart 52 traced it back thru Mary Adelaide, Mother Mary of Teck, Elizabeth’s Paternal Grandmother. If we instead wend our way thru Francis or Franz of Teck, Mary of Teck’s Father, we come to Ludwig von Württemberg, an esteemed Herzog or Duke, and Philip’s 3G Grandfather, making he and Elizabeth 4th Cousins, free and clear, Chart 53.

16.12  So how closely are Elizabeth and Philip related? I get of Coefficient of Relationship of 30/2048,  which is just a shade more distant than half-2nd Cousins, 32/2048. Relationships beyond 5th Cousins won’t add much, so that’s pretty much where it stands. Time to rummage around in the mailbag.


16.13  Dear Stolf: I’ve heard the postpositive adjectives Consort, Regnant, and Regent applied to the Royals….could you explain what they mean?…from Narcissus in Singapore…

16.14   Not only will I, but I’ll go you one better, and we’ll start with Regnant. This term exists due to the bias in favor of male heirs. It is applied almost exclusively to Queens…there were a couple of Kings Regnant way back, when it was found expedient to please all parties concerned with well-chosen technicalities, if you catch my drift. In addition, Mary II and her 2 husbands were co-Sovereigns, both Regnants, neither Consorts. But for centuries now there have only been Queens Regnant, of which Elizabeth II is one. It simply means a Queen in her own right, or by her own line of descent, as opposed to a Queen who is married to a hereditary King…

16.15   …which is technically termed a Queen Consort…i.e. partner…altho in practice she is referred to simply as the Queen. The husband of a Queen Regnant is a Prince, altho after 17 years of marriage, Victoria bestowed upon Albert the title of Prince Consort…the Royals don’t actually run the country any more, obviously, but they can do things like that if they want. There is no such thing as a King Consort, owing to the theory that “you cannot make a King.” In fact, Victoria wanted just that title for Albert, but was persuaded otherwise, the implication being that a King Consort would be a King subordinate to a Queen, which would be considered a Royal no-no, altho it goes right over the heads of us Yanks, nez pah?

16.16  Philip could have been a Prince Consort, but it was felt that the term was so identified with Albert that they’d as soon leave it just with him. But the funny thing is, as hidebound by tradition as this stuff may appear, there’s always room for something new. And that’s Princess Consort, a new term devised to apply to Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, if and when he should become King. Again, a neat bit of nitpicking that satisfies the Brits’ sensitivities, given the past histories of all concerned, and I say that with all due respect. Seriously. I have nothing against the system…it is what it is.

16.17  Finally we come to the interesting term Regent. This is a person who is what we might informally call an “acting Sovereign,” reigning in one of 3 circumstances: the Sovereign is out of the country for an extended period of time…or is incapacitated either physically or mentally….or is a minor. For England, I have only seen the term used as Prince Regent…for example, for the 9 years prior to George III’s death, his son George IV ruled as Prince Regent, owing to the elder George’s mental illness. A Princess Regent would simply be the wife of a Prince Regent, altho I have seen Princess Regent used in a literal sense in other countries, when the heir to the throne was a female.

16.18  I said I’d go you one better, and here it is: Royal. As used in the UK, the title Princess Royal is one that is specifically conferred upon, and not automatically inherited by, the Sovereign’s oldest daughter, and it is a title for life. Elizabeth’s Daughter Princess Anne was declared such in 1987, at age 37. The Queen herself was never a Princess Royal, as the title was held by her Grand Aunt Mary, the only Daughter of George V, from 1932 until her death in 1965, and there can only be one at a time. Prince Royal…as an equivalent of Crown Prince…is used in other countries, but correct me if I’m wrong, neither term is kosher in Great Britain. The fact that there was once a ship HMS Prince Royal was probably meant in the colloquial sense of “Royal Prince,” not as an official style and title, as they say. Next time, haven’t decided yet…be surprised.

wicked  ballsy…

You philatelists and numismatists don’t have any of these, as they were only in the planning stage when You-Know-Who did you-know-what…but cool to see nonetheless, sez me…

Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

shameless plugs contort [sic]…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com  and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Other Daily blog at http://stolf.wordpress.com  (Stolf’s Blog)

More bloggage at  http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com  and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com

Audio samples coming soon…or just check the podcasts…

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