18 celebrities who you may not know are descendants of royalty

18 celebrities who you may not know are descendants of royalty

Some Hollywood stars have had such illustrious and iconic careers that they are considered royalty in their own right.

Even though they may appear to us common folk as kings and queens, a surprising number of celebrities have distinct hereditary connections to monarchies.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

The team at Indy100 compiled a list of 18 celebrities who can claim aristocratic ancestry while also being phenomenally iconic (some people really do have the world at the tips of their fingers, huh).

1) Hilary Duff

Due to her status as the Queen's closest American celebrity relative, FindMyPast.com named Duff "America's most royal celebrity." Duff is Queen Elizabeth's 18th cousin through Alexander Spotswood, a British Army commander and the 10th great-grandson of Edward III.

2) Uma Thurman

Oscar nominee and Kill Bill’s finest Uma Thurman is the 21st cousin, once removed, to the queen through her ancestor, King Edward I of England.

3) Akosua Busia

Akosua Busia is a Ghanaian actress who is the daughter of Kofi Abrefa Busia, the former prime minister of the Republic of Ghana (1969-1972) and prince of the royal family of Wenchi, an Ashanti subgroup.

As a result, Busia is a princess too.

She is known for her portrayal of Nettie Harris, the sister to Celie Harris (played by Whoopi Goldberg) in the 1985 film, The Color Purple.

4) Bill Hader

Writer, occasional director and star of the HBO dark comedy Barry, Bill Hader is related to King Edward I of England and the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne is his 40th great-great-grandfather.

Once Hader discovered this on an episode of PBS’ Finding Your Roots, he said, "I mean, the conqueror of Europe? I couldn’t even get the coffeemaker to work this morning."

5) Meghan Markle

When Meghan Markle became the Duchess of Sussex after her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018, she deepened the pot on her existing royal heritage.

Markle is a direct descendent of England’s King Edward III, which means that she and Prince Harry are 17th cousins.

In a report from the Sun, she is also related to Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII’s third wife (the one who died after birth, not the one who was beheaded).

Isabel Hildyard, her 12th great-grandmother, was also Seymour’s second cousin.

Meghan Markle AFP via Getty Images

6) Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal

Hollywood siblings Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal’s family tree extends back to Edward III, the King of England from 1327 through 1377, which makes them 19th cousins to the Queen. The Gyllenhaals behind Hilary Duff and Brooke Shields have the most royal blood out of any American celebrity.

Maggie and Jake Cyllenhaal Getty Images

7) Céline Dion

Just like Madonna, French-Canadian singer Céline Dion is a ninth cousin once removed of Camilla Parker Bowles. This also makes Dion and Madonna 10th cousins twice removed through Jean Guyon, one of the earliest settlers of Quebec, as well as 10th cousins, once removed through Zacharie Cloutier, a carpenter and another early settler of Quebec.

8) Guy Ritchie

Film director, producer, and screenwriter, Guy Ritchie, who also happens to be the ex-husband of Madonna, has royal connections! He’s related to the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton as the two are sixth cousins.

He was also invited to her 2011 wedding to Prince William.

9) Kit Harington

Kit Harington and his Game of Thrones character Jon Snow have something in common: they’re both descendants of royalty, albeit Harington’s ancestry doesn’t qualify him as a secret king. His grandmother, Lavender Cecilia Denny, is a descendant of King Charles II of England.

Denny married Richard Harington, the 12th Baronet Harington, a title that has been passed down through the generations since the 1400s.

“We were comfortable [Harington and family], but I didn’t go to Oxbridge, and yet every American interviewer I get says to me, ‘You’re related to Charles II! Your grandfather was a baronet!’” Harrington told the London Evening Standard.

Families at war:\u00a0Harington\u00a0is also related to\u00a0Charles II, grandson of the monarch Catesby tried to assassinate\u00a0(CoKit Harington Corbis via Getty Images

10) Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie's mother, Marie Bertrand, is a descendant of French royalty. Her ancestors may be traced all the way back to Phillip II, the son of Louis VII, a 12th-century French king. This links Jolie to Marie of France, a powerful French princess at the time and Phillip's half-sister. Jolie is also the 26th cousin of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II.

Angelina JolieAngelina JolieGetty Images

11) Political royalty—The Bush family

Who would've thought that dynasties could exist on both sides of the Atlantic? George and Jeb Bush are 11th cousins, twice removed, of the late Princess Diana, and thus have a tie to a very British lineage.

12) Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton may act like a princess, and it's plausible that's because she's related to royalty herself! On her father Richard Hilton's side of the family, she is the Queen's 20th cousin through Henry II. Well, that's hot.

13) Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres and Kate Middleton, the future Queen of England, are distant cousins thanks to a familial link through Sir Thomas Fairfax. DeGeneres attempted to utilize a family connection to gain access to Prince George, one of the most adorable royals.

“I have a clothing line [ED by Ellen]; I can give him clothes; I can make a special robe for him,’” she told the British tabloid Hello!” she told British tabloid Hello!

14) Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton's background is well-known to everyone who has seen the film Braveheart. Robert the Bruce, the Scottish king who fought Edward I (Longshanks) for control of Scotland in the 14th century, is a direct descendant of the legendary actress. While we're on the subject of reboots, how about Swinton taking on the role of her ancestor?

15) Johnny Depp

Most famous for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, Johnny Depp happens to be another cousin of the Queen. He is a 20th cousin.

16) Madonna

The pop artist is derived from French-Canadian Madeleine Ernard and her carpenter spouse Zacharie Cloutier (1617-1708), making her a ninth cousin (once removed) of the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, according to the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. They also have another renowned relative on the list.

17) Brooke Shields

American actress and model Brooke Shields' royal blood goes without saying, as she has always exhibited queenly confidence. She's the second-most royal celebrity in America, trailing only Hilary Duff.

Through Henry II of France, Shields is Queen Elizabeth's 18th cousin once removed. Catherine de Medici and Lucrezia Borgia, Charlemagne and El Cid, William the Conqueror, and King Harold are among the names on her family tree.

18) Beyoncé

Not only is Beyoncé known as Queen B, she is also Queen Elizabeth II's 25th cousin once removed. Imagine Beyoncé rubbing shoulders with the royals while wearing the Crown Jewels.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)