Prince to Raja: William's Indian blood revealed

Jun 15, 2013, 01:54 IST | Agencies

Scientists testing saliva samples from his relatives discovered a direct link to a woman who was part-Indian

Prince William will be Britain’s first king with Indian ancestors, new genetic tests have revealed.

Indian King of England: DNA tests show William’s great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Eliza Kerwark was half-Indian. File pic

DNA analysis has helped researchers prove that the Duke of Cambridge’s great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Eliza Kerwark was half-Indian.

Eliza -- who is an ancestor of Wills and Harry’s mother Princess Diana -- was always believed to have come from Armenia.

However, new tests on saliva samples given by other descendants, including Diana’s aunt, show Eliza was at least half-Indian.

The discovery looks set to give William -- second in line to the throne and the future head of the Commonwealth -- a popularity boost among India’s 1.1 billion people.

Researchers have previously traced Diana’s family line back six generations to Eliza Kework, who was born in western India in around 1790 and is believed to have married Scottish merchant Theodore Forbes in 1812.

Eliza’s father was an Armenian trader, but there is no record of her mother. Now the genetic analysis shows she must have been Indian.

Edinburgh University genetics expert Jim Wilson, who carried out the tests on Willsiam’s relatives, said among Eliza’s DNA was a very rare type of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which is only inherited from mothers.

He said that particular genetic code has been found in only 14 other people before -- 13 Indian and one Nepalese.

Inter-racial affairs were common at the time -- but researchers say snobbery could explain why Theodore abandoned Eliza and sent their young daughter Katherine back to Britain.

Katherine, known as Kitty, went on to marry in Scotland and her great-great-granddaughter was Frances Burke Roche, who married the 8th Earl Spencer and had five children including Diana Spencer.

Diana’s aunt Mary Roach, one of those who provided DNA, said: “I always assumed that I was part-Armenian so I am delighted that I also have an Indian background.”

Dr Wilson said Princes William and Harry would both have inherited Eliza’s distinctive mtDNA code but would not pass it to their children.

However, they will inherit other genetic material from her. Their distant cousins who were tested have between 0.3 and 0.8 per cent South Asian DNA.                    

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