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HISTORY

How are Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family related to European royalty?

Seven of the twelve European monarchies still have ruling kings and queens, all of them are related including Queen Elizabeth and her family.

Historically, monarchies obsessively recurred to inbreeding to make sure that their offspring remained of 'pure' royal blood, and even when today Royals are allowed to marry commoners, up to this day, most European Royal houses are still related one way or another. 

Back in the day, these incestuous marriages were a necessary evil to make political alliances to secure power. Nowadays, the world doesn't really work that way, and this type of alliance is no longer needed. However, centuries of royal inbreeding have resulted in having basically members of the same family in almost every European monarchy, which means that even today, some of the most powerful and richest countries are still 'ruled' by people sharing the same blood.

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Historical context

Let's set the grounds of how many monarchies are still ruling the Old Continent. Today, there are twelve monarchies in Europe of which only seven are considered kingdoms. That is because these seven still have a queen or king as head of state; so, we'll focus on those. The seven ruling monarchs, including the iconic Queen Elizabeth II, are all related one way or another, with one ancestor in common. Unlike what many would think, we're not talking precisely about Queen Victoria, but a more ancient link, King George II of England, who ruled during the 18th century from 1727 to 1760.

United Kingdom

Although King George is the oldest link in these seven Royal families, Victoria indeed made it all possible. When she married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Europe had gone through a very convulse period of wars. To establish her power over the continent and the many European colonies, Victoria decided to marry her nine children strategically into the different European Royal houses. Six of them ended up marrying royals from different German states to promote the unification of the country. It didn't work out that well.

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Victoria ruled the United Kingdom for 63 years. She had 42 grandchildren who were also married around the royal houses of the continent. Seven of them ruled kingdoms like Spain, Norway, Rumania, Sweden, Germany, and Russia. Today, the Windsors are direct descendants of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and within their members, they also relate to other royal houses, as we'll see below.

Denmark

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark belongs to the Royal House of Glücksburg, which has German and Danish origins. This house has had rulers in different European monarchies like Denmark, Norway, and Greece, at some point. 

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In fact, if we were to follow the royal protocol Prince Charles isn't really a Windsor but a Glücksburg, because his father, the late Prince Philip, belonged to that family, and according to the protocol, it is the father's last name the one that passes to the prices. Having said that, Denmark's royalty is related to the British Crown through the Glücksburg bloodline.

Sweden

Sweden's official Royal House is the Bernadotte. The closest family tie of today's monarchies is actually the one between Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. Carl's mother and Margrethe's father were siblings.

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Going back to Queen Victoria, one of her granddaughters, Prince Arthur's child, Margaret, became Princess Consort of Sweden when she married Gustaf VI Adolf, who was crowned in 1950.

Norway

Norway's current king, Harald V, and Queen Elizabeth II are second cousins. Elizabeth's grandfather, King George V, was the eldest brother of Harald's grandmother. The Norwegian Royal Family also belongs to the Glücksburg House, and it's also related to the British monarchy through another of Queen Victoria's granddaughters, Maud of Wales. She was the daughter of Victoria's second child, Edward, and was married to King Haakon VII of Norway.

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Spain

With Spain, the family ties also go back to Queen Victoria. Victoria's youngest daughter, Beatrice, married her daughter Eugenie to King Alfonso XVIII of Spain. As such, Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (the Royal House of Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg) and Queen Elizabeth's grandfather were siblings, which make of Elizabeth and King Felipe VI, third cousins once removed.

Now, there's an even closer relationship between the two realms. Former Queen Sofía's grandfather was the brother of Prince Philip's father. Both Sofía and Prince Philip belonged to the Greek Royal Family before it was overthrown.

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Belgium

This one is a very interesting case because both Belgium and the British Royal families are actually the same House, the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which was also Prince Albert's and Queen Victoria's mother's house. In 1917, the British Royal family changed their name to Windsor, and Belgium's House simply became the House of Belgium. Queen Elizabeth and King Philippe of Belgium are third cousins once removed. The first king of the Belgians, Leopold I, was Queen Victoria's uncle, and father of Mexico's Empress Carlota, but that's another story.

Netherlands

Last but not least, let's go to the Netherlands. As we mentioned, King George II of England is the oldest link in all European Royal families. When George married his daughter Anne of Hannover to William IV, Prince of Orange, the Royal House of Orange-Nassau was established. William was the first one to rule all the different states of the Netherlands.

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William's bloodline, unlike other kingdoms, goes straight to the current king, Willem-Alexander. This is the oldest link between European Royal houses, through King George II; however, as it is well known, Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837 to 1911 (a century after George), is the one that ties all the houses together.

Photos from Wikimedia Commons

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