‘Unassailable’ proof of Prince William’s Indian heritage (w/ Gallery)

Published: June 18, 2013
Princess Diana in India

Princess Diana of Wales poses for pictures at the 17th century Taj Mahal, 11 February 1992, on the second day of the royal couple’s six-day visit. Photo DOUGLAS E. CURRAN /AFP/Getty Images)

CANADA.COM

A “royal revelation” claims to have new evidence of some unexpected branches in Prince William’s family tree — according to research by BritainsDNA and the University of Edinburgh, the second in line to the British throne has Indian heritage.

“It is his only non-European DNA and means he will become the first head of the Commonwealth with a clear genetic link to its most populous nation — India,” writes the Times of India.

According to BritainsDNA, a company that aims to produce “a people’s history” of Britain through genetic analysis, Prince William has Indian ancestry through a long-ago relationship on his mother’s side. A woman named Eliza Kewark was the Indian housekeeper for William’s 5th great grandfather, a Scotsman named Theodore Forbes, who was given a position with the East India Company. Though there is apparently no evidence that the two ever married, there is proof that they had children together — children who are the ancestors of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

“In his early 20s, Theodore set up house, probably in Surat, a major port north of Bombay itself, and he employed a housekeeper,” BritainsDNA writes on its website. “She was Eliza Kewark, an Indian woman only two years younger. Her Christian name was almost certainly an anglicized version of Aleeza or Aliza.”

Kewark’s genetic background is also believed to carry Armenian blood, through her father’s side.

Princess Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry

From left, Diana, Princess of Wales and sons Prince William and Prince Harry visit Niagara Falls. aboard the Maid of the Mist in the fall of 1991. New DNA research suggests the princes have Indian ancestry through a long-ago relationship on their mother’s side of the family. KINGSTON WHIG STANDARD

Forbes died when he was only 32, but by that time he had already started a family with Kewark: a daughter named Katharine, a son named Alexander and a third child, believed to be a daughter. Katharine went on to live in Scotland where she married James Crombie. Their daughter, Jane, was the great-grandmother of Princess Diana’s mother, Frances Roche, who married Earl Spencer.

“How is it possible to be certain of this?” BritainsDNA asks. “Mitochondiral DNA is passed down the motherline to all children. Two living direct descendants of Eliza Kewark have been found and by reading the sequence of their mtDNA, our geneticists discovered not only that it matched, but that it also belonged to a haplogroup called R30b. Further research confirmed unequivocally that this is Eliza Kewark’s haplogroup. A comparison run through databases of the DNA of more than 65,000 individuals from around the world showed that R30b is very rare and very Indian.”

Jim Wilson, the University of Edinburgh genetics expert who conducted the tests, told The Independent that “proof of William’s Indian roots was ‘unassailable.’ ”

The Daily Mail says “the revelation will prompt calls for the 30-year-old prince to make his maiden visit to India, following in the footsteps of his parents, who travelled there in 1992.”

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