Evidence is mounting that Britain’s Prince William may have distant cousins and relatives in the state of Gujarat in India.
According to media reports, DNA tests have revealed that Prince William has a sliver of Indian ancestry.
Researchers at Britain’s DNA, a genetic testing company that explores British, Irish. and Scottish ancestry, think that Prince William’s distant cousins and relatives may be in the Indian city of Surat in the state of Gujarat.
They disclosed that Prince William’s great, great, great, great, great grandmother, Eliza Kewark, was of Indian origin. In 1812, researchers say, Kewark gave birth to Prince Williams’s great, great, great, great grandmother, Katharine Scott Forbes.
Two of Kewark’s direct descendants supplied DNA to the Scottish-based company. Tests showed that Prince William carries Kewark’s mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mitochondrial DNA is a small piece of DNA inherited mostly unchanged from a mother to her children.
“It’s a great thing to unite people across the distances,” Dr. Jim Wilson, a geneticist at the University of Edinburgh and chief scientist at BritainsDNA, said, speaking from Scotland. “It shows commonality.”
To add to the evidence about the possible Indian link, results from the test revealed that Kewark had an extremely rare form of mtDNA. That rare form of mtDNA has only been found in 14 other people, 13 in India and one in Nepal.
Patrick French, a British author and historian pointed out in a comprehensive book on India, this means the second-in-line to the throne is 1/256th Indian.
Research has found that Kewark served as a housekeeper to Prince William’s fifth great-grandfather, Theodore Forbes, a Scottish merchant. Born in 1788, Forbes worked for the East India Company in the Indian city of Surat. Today, Surat cuts and polishes 90 cent of the world’s diamonds.
Researchers believe Kewark was of Armenian descent because her name is similar to the Armenian name Kevork. Also letters to her from Forbes have been found which contain Armenian script. The company says Kewark also signed her name in Armenian script.
This information suggests a strong possibility that Kewark’s father was Armenian. The company says it is positive that Kewark’s genetic heritage through her motherline is Indian.
BritainsDNA’s Alistair Moffat, who studied some of the historical background in the investigation found that Forbes was the third son of a landowning family in Britian. Moffat believes that when it became clear Forbes was not going to inherit land, he contacted the East India Company and traveled to India.
“That’s where he met Kewark and he employed her as his housekeeper. It wasn’t uncommon for young British men to have relationships with Indian women,” he told reporters.
Dr. Wilson, who raised the prospect that Prince William may have relatives in India, said Kewark gave birth to two children. Katherine was born in 1812 and Alexander was born two years later. Both were sent back to Britain. Katherine, or Kitty, later married James Crombie, a member of the coat-making family.
“But Alexander went back to India and did not die early,” Dr. Wilson said. “He may have descendants there today,” Dr. Wilson said.
Although, India did away with royalty in 1971, the descendants of what were termed the “princely states” are still accorded special rights. The maharajas and maharanis enjoy privileged status and according to reports, news of the link to Prince William may earn some mirth in those circles.
As to rumors that the Prince William may soon travel to India to hunt down his distant cousins, both the British High Commission in Delhi and Clarence House in London said they were not aware of any such plans.
By Perviz Walji