Prince William will be the first British monarch to have Indian ancestry according to new DNA research published by the University of Edinburgh and BritainsDNA.
The matrilineal genealogy of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, traces back to an Indian woman known as Eliza Kewark. She was housekeeper to his 5th great grandfather Theodore Forbes, a Scottish merchant who worked for the East India Company in a busy port north of Bombay.
Eliza is claimed to have been Armenian, and letters from Eliza to Theodore contain Armenian script. While her father could have been of Armenian descent, DNA evidence shows she is Indian through her mother's line.
Mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA is a small piece of DNA, inherited from a mother. Men inherit mtDNA, but do not pass it on.
Researchers sequenced the mtDNA of Princess Diana's line, and showed not only that it matched Kewark's, but also that it belongs to a haplogroup called R30b.
A haplogroup is a group of related ancestral lineages, and while some are found all over the world, others are confined to particular regions. The R30 and R30a haplogroups are entirely South Asian.
The R30b haplogroup which Princes William and Harry inherited from Kewark is exceedingly rare, even in India, with only 14 examples reported, 13 of whom were Indian and one Nepalese.
University of Edinburgh genetics expert Jim Wilson said the proof of William's Indian roots was "unassailable."
Further, autosomal markers across the genomes of Princess Diana’s two matrilineal cousins show that Kewark’s descendants are about 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent South Asian. All the rest is of European origin.
It is therefore likely that Prince William has not only inherited a small portion of Indian DNA from Eliza Kewark, but his heirs will also carry it.
"This is a great example of how genetics can be used to answer specific historical questions and uncover fascinating facts about our ancestry," said Dr. Jim Wilson, Chief Scientist at BritainsDNA.