5 celebs you didn't know were 'royal'

Almost everyone who falls into the census category of ‘white British’ can claim descent from a British medieval monarch – simply because of the way in which genealogy works. Based on recent research by Durham University, the medieval king Edward III has about 100 million modern-day descendants (mostly in the UK and US)! However, these celebs were surprised to find out that they might be closer to the royal line than they originally thought...

  1. Tom Hanks 
    1. As a descendant of King John of England, Tom Hanks is 24th cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. King John ruled from 1199 to 1216 and is often portrayed in fiction as a villain, most notably in the stories of Robin Hood (he’s the lion in the Disney version!). This isn’t too far from the truth. He was a weak and treacherous King who lost a lot of the possessions he inherited and raised the taxes on his subjects to compensate. Tom Hanks certainly hasn’t had this problem. He’s recognised as one of the highest earning actors in history and is worth around $350 million!
  2. Ellen DeGeneres
    1. In 2011, talk show presenter, Ellen DeGeneres found out that she is distantly related to Kate Middleton - 15th cousin to be precise. Their common ancestor was Sir Thomas Fairfax, a nobleman and commander-in-chief during the English Civil War.  It’s also reported that Ellen has a second royal claim to fame, and is in fact the Queen’s 19th cousin (twice removed) since she is also descended from King Edward III. When Ellen announced her royal connection, she offered to plan Kate’s bachelorette party, and was hoping for an invitation to the wedding! Unfortunately, Kate and Wills didn’t respond – perhaps their royal guest list only extended to 14th cousins?! 
  3. Hilary Duff 
    1. In 2012, former Lizzie McGuire star Hilary Duff was named America’s most royal celeb, according to a study by FindMyPast.com. She earned this title as the 18th cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, through her ‘gateway ancestor’ (a person with a proven descent from royalty) Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740). Spotswood was an officer in the British Army and the 10th great-grandson of King Edward III, who reigned from 1327 to 1377. Hilary Duff is also said to be descended from Catherine Carey, daughter of Mary Boleyn. Mary was Henry VIII’s mistress before he married her sister, Anne Boleyn, and some historians believe that Catherine Carey was actually the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII. 
  4. Danny Dyer
    1. When actor, Danny Dyer delved into his family tree on the programme ‘Who do you think you are?’ he was pretty shocked by what he found. The actor, known for his role in EastEnders, was pleased to find that he was descended from Thomas Cromwell, and drew parallels between himself and Henry VIII’s right-hand man: “He came from a slum, I come from a slum. Cromwell left the country at 14, I started acting at 14. He was a self-taught lawyer. I’m a self-taught actor”. This discovery led to another, that Dyer, in fact, had royal blood as the 22-times great-grandson of Edward III. 
  5. Ralph Fiennes
    1. Actor, Ralph Fiennes, known for his role as Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, has played many historical figures but is yet to play his royal relative. Fiennes is actually the 8th cousin of HRH Prince Charles as a direct descendant of James II of Scotland, who ruled from 1437 to 1460. James became king at just 7 years old, and unlike Voldemort, he was a successful ruler who was well liked by commoners. He was keen to increase Scotland’s ability to attack and defend itself, so promoted modern weapons. Unfortunately, this interest in artillery resulted in his death, as he was killed when standing too close to an exploding cannon.