Sunday, May 7, 2023

Of Royal Relatives


Depending on who your friends are, your social media accounts may have been a-buzz this weekend over the coronation of King Charles III. While I don't exactly count myself in such a crowd, I was grateful for one side benefit of the gala affair: it generated a couple articles I found not only interesting, but possibly useful.

One, from the BBC, asked, "Are you related to a king?" The article's writer, David Cox, traced the story of confirming the identity of skeletal remains of another king, Richard III, through DNA—including a photo of professor Turi King guiding the ancient king's current-day descendant through the process of swabbing to collect samples for a mitochondrial DNA test. From there, inserting some calculations by professor Graham Coop of UC Davis, the author discussed the not-so-remote possibility that a large number of subjects of the British crown could also be descendants of the nation's previous kings.

Long live the king, who just may be our distant cousin.

While I was musing over such a thought, a second post thanks to social media drew my attention to another genealogy-inspired take on the weekend's coronation festivities. Blogger Roberta Estes used the event to mention use of WikiTree to gain a quick take on whether you are related to the king—or to anyone else, for that matter. 

I had discovered that very feature last month as I was puzzling over my mother-in-law's matrilineal connection to the Howards of colonial Maryland. Because of WikiTree's dedicated research community and their incorporation of DNA test results, it became obvious to me that those mtDNA test results linking my mother-in-law to that Howard line might be helpful for other collaborating researchers to know. I've actually been considering becoming part of the WikiTree community. From what I've seen so far, I'm impressed with the care taken there to have document-supported entries on their community tree.

All told, I'm sure the celebrations in England have been spectacular and I wish the new king and his subjects all the best. But what I'm really glad about is the coincidental information which came my way over this weekend, thanks to some genealogy buffs on social media. 

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