Do I Have Royal Blood?

One of the first things I hear a lot of new genealogists ask about is the likelihood of finding out if they are related to royalty. A notable person in our family tree is always fascinating and let's be honest, we humans like to boast.

When we discover descent from a person of great importance such as from a monarch or leader of some kind it is always fascinating. Some people actually go in search of such connections which can have very mixed results.

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What Is Royal Blood?

When we think of the term royal blood we are likely thinking about kings and queens but essentially we are talking about the rulers of specific groups. As long as humans have been around we have been in social groups and in these groups there is always a leader.

In ancient times these may have been a patriarch or matriarch of a family, chief of a tribe or clan, or a holy leader. As time progressed rulers started to control larger groups of people becoming emperors, monarchs and others such notable titles.

When we speak of royal blood we are actually thinking of the individuals that rule over others. There are many terms for these so depending on where you are from your concept of royal blood might be different.

As an example, someone whose family history is in Japan is likely not seeking a link to the British monarchy. They may be looking to find out if they might be related to one of the Emperors of Japan. Those with French ancestry might be looking for connections in the French monarchy.

So essentially what we are seeking is descent from one of the notable rulers of the region in which our family has historically lived.

Do We Have Royal Blood?

The simple answer to this question is that yes, most of us likely do descend from some notable ruling figure in history such as a king or queen. Using basic logic we know that every generation we go back in our family tree the number of ancestors we have in a specific generation doubles.

Relationship Number of People in Generation
You 1
Parents 2
Grandparents 4
Great Grandparents 8
Great Great Grandparents 16
2 x Great Grandparents 32
3 x Great Grandparents 64

As the above table shows each generation sees double the number of ancestors than the one previous. So why does this mean that we likely have royal blood?

If we doubled our number of ancestors each generation for around 40 generations we would have somewhere in the region of 500 billion ancestors. This might take us back about 1200 years historically to a time when the entire population of Europe was an estimated 20-30 million.

So essentially if we are supposed to have around 500 billion unique ancestors in the 40th generation back and there are only 20-30 million people in the entirety of Europe we are most likely related to them all at least once.

Among those 20-30 million Europeans of course would be the kings, queens and other notables. The mathematics alone indicates that we must descend from some form of Royalty and nobility. In fact, we may be descended from multiple notables throughout history.

Can we Trace our Royal Blood?

We have established that everyone likely has some royal connections somewhere in their family tree. The next question is whether we can find out who, and of course prove it? Well, the truth is that some people can and have proven connections to royals.

A quirk common to ruling classes around the globe has always been a tendency to track and trace their family lines. It is in this way that nobility have monitored their rights to power for thousands of years. Modern-day kings and queens can often easily trace their line to some ancient king.

It does get a little harder for the common person on the street. Another quirk of mainly male leaders is the habit of having illegitimate children. It is often the illegitimate offspring that most non-noble persons will claim as the connection to a specific royal figure.

The truth is however that unless you can trace your family to a notable family it can be very hard to find a provable line to royal blood. I would estimate that a fair portion of the family trees on Ancestry that lead to a major monarch would not stand up to the genealogical proof standard.

I often see glaring inaccuracies that completely erode tenuous connections to high profile monarchs. The truth is that knowing we are likely descended from royalty and being able to prove that are two very different things.


Mathematically speaking the further we move back into our family tree the more ancestors we theoretically have in each generation. It quickly reaches a point where we should have more individuals in a generation than were actually alive at that time.

This means that even the notables of that time are likely in some way related to us if not direct ancestors. Knowing this and actually reliably proving it through documentation however are not the same thing.

You have the blood of a historical leader as do I, as does everyone. I haven’t found my connection to “royal blood” yet in my tree and I likely never will. We still are descended and we are all related to each other if we could go back far enough in our respective family histories.

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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