From the office: Are you descended from royalty?

By Editor, 18 August 2016 - 5:15pm

As far as Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine editor Sarah Williams knows, she isn't descended from royalty – but then royal connections aren't what she watches Who Do You Think You Are? for...

Sarah Williams is editor at Who Do You Think You Are? MagazineThursday 18 August 2016
Sarah Williams, Editor
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Amanda Holden Who Do You Think You Are? MagazineAmanda Holden's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? goes down well with a pie!

Although you could argue that it’s when the new celebrities are first announced that the Who Do You Think You Are? season begins, for me it is when we sit around as a team watching a preview episode together while eating Pie Minister pies. I don’t know why it has to be pies but it has always been that way and long may it continue.

The episode we watched was Amanda Holden’s and I will reveal no more than that it is an excellent story and, true to form, I was blinking back tears at one point.

Afterwards I spoke to programme makers Wall to Wall and told them how much we had enjoyed the episode. “Oh wait until you see Danny Dyer’s episode”, was the response, “there’s a royal connection!”.

Danny’s royal connection was no surprise as numerous newspapers had plastered their websites with the story that the landlord of the Queen Vic had found more than just Eastenders in his family tree.

What did surprise me though was how unexcited I was about the revelation. Now, I haven’t seen the episode and apparently it’s a real gem with some wonderful responses by Danny, but I have met so many family historians who have traced a royal connection that it has lost some of its mystique for me.

Not only were the aristocracy a randy bunch (although perhaps no worse than everyone else), they were also well documented and had children (legitimate and illegitimate) who benefited from the best food and healthcare that would have been on offer at the time.

It's a simple equation: lots of children living to adulthood = lots of descendants and if those children and their children and grandchildren have all been documented on parchment with coats of arms and hand drawn lines linking them to royalty – then it’s not too surprising to find, hundreds of years later, family historians finding they have a royal connection.

I remember being approached by a very keen American and his two adult sons at Who Do You Think You Are? Live one year, full of excitement because they had discovered that they were descended from Charlemagne, King of the Franks. They had flown over especially because they wanted to appear on the programme. I didn’t know how to break it to them.

But maybe it’s just sour grapes. I’ve not discovered any connection to royalty on my tree. In fact, I’m pretty much stuck in the 18th century. When the TV series starts (we have no start date yet), I’ll be looking out for other stories that connect to mine. I’m as interested in the tales of ordinary people overcoming adversity as I am in royalty and there’s always plenty of that in Who Do You Think You Are? 
 

Read more about the celebrities appearing the next series of Who Do You Think You Are? in our Summer 2016 issue, on sale now.

 

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