Monarchy Infidelity: King Richard III’s DNA Places Doubt On Queen Elizabeth’s Claim To England Throne

DNA extracted from the body of Richard III proves even the Royal Family has some skeletons in the closet. The DNA proves that somewhere in the male lineage of Richard III, infidelity took place. The infidelity could mean that Queen Elizabeth’s right to rule is in question.

According to BBC, depending on where in the family tree the infidelity occurred, it could cast doubt on the Tudor claim to the English throne or, indeed, on Richard’s. How exactly did the researchers determine that infidelity took place? Their analysis shows that DNA passed down on the maternal side matches that of living relatives, but genetic information passed down on the male side does not. Dr. Turi King from Leicester University, who led the study, spoke at a news briefing to discuss the findings. She said that the lack of a match on the male side was not unexpected because her previous research had shown there was a 1-2% rate of “false paternity” per generation.

So which Queen was responsible for producing the “fake” heir to the throne? Researchers can not pinpoint exactly where the infidelity took place in Richard III’s paternal line. However, they do know it took place at some point between Edward III and the 5th Duke of Beaufort. How exactly do they know? Well, Richard III’s maternal DNA is almost a perfect match with two of his living cousins. They were able to confirm that Ms. Duldig is a niece of Richard III, 18 times removed, while Michael Ibsen is Richard III’s nephew, 16 times removed.

However, when comparing paternal DNA, the results were not as expected and prove that someone in the royal line was not related on the paternal side. Richard III and his royal rival, Henry Tudor (later Henry VII), were both descendants of King Edward III. The infidelity could, in theory, have occurred either on the branch leading back from Henry to Edward or on the branch leading from Richard to Edward as seen below.

The infidelity discovered by King Edward III's DNA is outlined in this graphic.

The infidelity discovered by King Edward III’s DNA is outlined in this graphic.


The Daily Mail notes that there was a break in the male lineage as the wives of one of the men listed above were unfaithful to them. If that occurred before Edmund, the 2nd Duke of Somerset, who was born in 1406, then it could call in to question the Tudors claim to the throne and so the current Royal family, whose lineage is traced back to the Tudors through Henry VI. However, the break could also have occurred on the York side of the family tree and so Richard III’s claim could also have been illegitimate. Likewise, the break could have occurred on the Tudor side but further down the line than John Beaufort, meaning the Queen is still the “rightful” ruler based on blood.

Researchers realize that this information will be used to speculate on the Queen’s right to rule, but note that royal blood lines are tricky situations. They note that royal succession takes ‘many twists and turns’ and was quick to point out that Henry Tudor took the throne by force — by defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, so obviously there is more to the throne than just blood.

Does royal infidelity surprise you? Does it make a difference if Queen Elizabeth is the “rightful” ruler based on blood, or is there more to the now figurehead role than just blood line?

[Image Credit: The Daily Mail]