Why do Royals inbreed?

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,778
United States
I think that's really the only culture where it was common though. It certainly wasn't in Europe (I only know of one case where siblings married, and it wasn't a legal marriage, nor was it socially acceptable: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_V,_Count_of_Armagnac ). I don't know much about Asia but I don't think it was common there either.
In southeast Asia such as Burma/Myanmar it was traditional for half-siblings to marry.
 

History Chick

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
3,336
Colorado Springs (PA at heart)
The most powerful Royal families often interbred. Prince Albert was Queen Vicky's first cousin. The Bourbons and Hohenzollerns also fell into the trap. It certainly was not because the relatives were handsome! The Windsors are still trying to dilute that German blood. Prince Harry seems to have the right idea for getting new blood into the family. Poor Prince William married a distant cousin.

Pruitt
Distant cousins really share no more DNA than anyone else - that is not a concern, nor is it considered inbreeding. Technically, we're all distant cousins due to pedigree collapse. Besides, there's no reason Meghan Markle can't have some royal ancestry either. Actually, according to this, she is descended from Edward III: https://www.americanancestors.org/meghan-markle

"Markle is a cousin of her future husband, Prince Harry, more than 240 times over."

It makes no difference - they aren't closely related enough for it to be any concern, just like William and Kate.
 

History Chick

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
3,336
Colorado Springs (PA at heart)
Based on my reading of European history, I believe aristocrats lost rank by marrying beneath them. Marriages were arranged, and running off with the groom or a mistress was just not done. If you have authority to the contrary, please let's see it.
https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/bitstream/handle/1808/8189/Schutte_ku_0099D_11418_DATA_1.pdf

"This project is concerned with the identity of this group [that is, the English elite] as a rank rather than as a social class (see discussion below for the distinction). Their self-understanding of their identity as aristocrats was an important motivating factor in many of the decisions that they made. Certainly as they made decisions concerning the marriages of their daughters one of the primary considerations was preservation of their place within their rank." (from page 8)

And that was even more true for the monarchy. E.g. the Wallis Warfield Simpson affair. There instances in Russian and Eastern European history as well regarding monarchs, or persons in line for the monarchy who lost the crown because of whom they married.

Lol, where would I even begin? There's SO many examples. Henry VIII married several women of no rank at all, he didn't lose his kingship. There's several examples on the morganatic marriages page on wikipedia I linked to - Franz Ferdinand is probably the most popular one - his children did not have the right to inherit the throne, but he himself still did and he did not lose his title of Archduke. The daughter of Henry I, Matilda, was a princess, which outranks her second husband's rank of Count, but she did not lose her titles, nor was she barred from inheriting the throne because of that.

I could go on and on and on.

Nothing in what you quoted says that people lost their own rank when they married ranks beneath them. The concern of preserving their rank was in terms of inheritance, which is exactly what I said.

The Wallis Simpson issue had nothing to do with rank - superficially it was because she was divorced, and the head of the Church of England (the monarch) couldn't marry someone who was divorced (when that person's ex spouse was still living). In reality, it had more to do with the fact that Edward VIII and Simpson were Nazi sympathizers and the government wanted him out.
 
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Sep 2012
1,095
Tarkington, Texas
Distant cousins really share no more DNA than anyone else - that is not a concern, nor is it considered inbreeding. Technically, we're all distant cousins due to pedigree collapse. Besides, there's no reason Meghan Markle can't have some royal ancestry either. Actually, according to this, she is descended from Edward III: https://www.americanancestors.org/meghan-markle

"Markle is a cousin of her future husband, Prince Harry, more than 240 times over."

It makes no difference - they aren't closely related enough for it to be any concern, just like William and Kate.
Distant cousins are more likely to share risk factors that don't show up in most lineages. Louisiana has a problem in that people of Cajun/French ancestry are now all related to each other. There is a little town just North of the I-10 called Iota. Without warning families started having children with Guilland-Bares syndrome, which normally strikes Jewish families. Tulane University came out and did a family tree of the affected families. It was found that they were all descended from two brothers from Quebec named Levis. At least now they are warned.

My ex was a Cajun and I was a bit curious about the lineage. I had my dna tested and found no surprizes. I ordered a test for my daughter and son-in-law. My ex always claimed there was German and Native American ancestry if we went back far enough. My Mother-in-Law was a Marcantel which is an old German/Cajun line here. The test came back for my daughter and we were blown away! No German or Native American gene markers, but we found a some different markers! It seems there is Spanish, Canary Islands, Ashkenazi and Sephardic gene markers to go along with some French! With my luck there is connection to the Levis!

While we were not found to be related, our younger daughter is microcephalic and mentally challenged with some C-P. I can't rule out any family ties now. I found out that several of my Maternal Grandfather's relatives moved to Church Pointe, LA around 1900, so an accidental connection is now possible.

So yeah, looking at the Hapsburgs and French and Spanish Bourbons, marrying cousins CAN cause problems. The Windsors and the Bowe-Lyons also have had handicapped individuals. They have married cousins. It seems that half the people in the UK can now trace back a lineage to Charles II...

Pruitt
 
Jun 2017
16
England
To me, the obvious answer would be purity. In order to preserve a royal lineage, a guaranteed method of maintaining the royal bloodline would be to interbreed. Royal families couldn't even trust other noble families to have pure blood lines themselves so the easiest way to keeping the royalty pure would be to just interbreed.
 

pablo668

Ad Honorem
Apr 2010
2,201
Perth, Western Australia. or....hickville.
The thing is, it wasn't just Royal families doing this in the past. Royals and aristocratic families merely happen to be in general the most salient/best recorded examples of this happening.

In western civilisation the incidence of cousins marrying each other was still fairly high until better transportation was developed.....say about 150 years back, thereabouts.

Mathematically at least we all HAVE to be distant cousins as there wasn't enough humans around for us all to have separate ancestors. I know of at least one 1st cousin marriage in my ancestors on my mothers side.

Also, it's still pretty common in developing/poorer countries.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,523
Las Vegas, NV USA
I think this is the best answer:

In an aristocracy, of which monarchies are a part, you can't marry below your social rank without losing that rank. So if you are the monarch or a potential monarch, there are very few people you can marry--the children and siblings of other monarchs.
In Europe, it was almost necessary that monarchs or heirs of great powers marry lower rank royalty usually from smaller powers. Two great powers united by marriage of their sovereigns or heirs could create real problems. Ferdinand and Isabella were rare exceptions and Spain only became a great power after the marriage. Countries like Denmark and the small German states furnished many spouses to sovereigns or heirs of great and intermediate powers.
 
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Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,210
Welsh Marches
Based on my reading of European history, I believe aristocrats lost rank by marrying beneath them. Marriages were arranged, and running off with the groom or a mistress was just not done. If you have authority to the contrary, please let's see it.
https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/bitstream/handle/1808/8189/Schutte_ku_0099D_11418_DATA_1.pdf

"This project is concerned with the identity of this group [that is, the English elite] as a rank rather than as a social class (see discussion below for the distinction). Their self-understanding of their identity as aristocrats was an important motivating factor in many of the decisions that they made. Certainly as they made decisions concerning the marriages of their daughters one of the primary considerations was preservation of their place within their rank." (from page 8)

And that was even more true for the monarchy. E.g. the Wallis Warfield Simpson affair. There instances in Russian and Eastern European history as well regarding monarchs, or persons in line for the monarchy who lost the crown because of whom they married.


It was quite complicated in Britain. There was a distinction between the old nobility and holders of recently created titles, the old nobility were likely to marry among themselves, but members of the newer nobility would marry up or down, quite often to people of lower rank. Aristocrats did not really lose rank by marrying beneath them, their social position was too assured for that. It was just that marriages in general were family alliances in which monetary considerations were also involved, and people of similar status naturally tended to marry among themselves. Birds of a feather and all that.

There would have been no objection to British monarchs post-Victoria marrying people from dubious royal lines or indeed commoners. They too were too assured of their position. George V married Mary of Teck, who would have been unacceptable as a wife for the heir to many European crowns because the was born from a morganatic marriage. The problem with Wallis Simpson was she was twice divorced and had a rackety past; divorced people were not even received at the palace in those days.
 
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History Chick

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
3,336
Colorado Springs (PA at heart)
Distant cousins are more likely to share risk factors that don't show up in most lineages.
Not at the degree of cousinship we're talking about with Prince William and Kate.

Louisiana has a problem in that people of Cajun/French ancestry are now all related to each other. There is a little town just North of the I-10 called Iota. Without warning families started having children with Guilland-Bares syndrome, which normally strikes Jewish families. Tulane University came out and did a family tree of the affected families. It was found that they were all descended from two brothers from Quebec named Levis. At least now they are warned.
That's because there's a LOT of endogamy in those communities - that's not the same thing as two people sharing an ancestor from the 16th century.