Genealogy has been gaining popularity in the last few years, thanks in part to the rise of DNA testing services like 23andMe and MyHeritage. More and more people have been discovering their roots, and that includes famous people. You may be surprised at just how many of your favorite celebrities can trace their family lines back to royalty. These rich and famous people live in the lap of luxury, and it turns out that their royal ancestors did too.

The history of Sherlock

One of the most legendary British actors of modern times is Benedict Cumberbatch, so it’s only fitting that he is able to trace his family back to legendary royals. The film star can claim King Richard II of England as part of his royal lineage. In an intriguing coincidence, genealogists have also shown that Cumberbatch is related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author who created one of the most famous characters Cumberbatch has played: Sherlock Holmes.

A pirate with a royal link

Johnny Depp’s family tree is a fascinating one. Genealogist Nick Barrett found that the actor is distantly related to the Queen Elizabeth II of England, with both of them tracing their ancestry back to the same 19th great grandfather. Unfortunately, the relationship can’t be completely proven as some of the research relies on information for which there are no historical records. In spite of the lack of evidence, Barrett still thinks the connection is quite likely, albeit somewhat hidden.

“I believe the balance of probability is that there is indeed a link between Depp and the ­royals — though I doubt we’ll ever be able to prove it 100 percent,” he told the Mirror.

The most royal celeb of them all

Hilary Duff has been dubbed as the most royal celebrity there is, as she is the celebrity found to be the most closely related to Queen Elizabeth II. Genealogy website revealed that Duff and the queen are 18th cousins, with both of them tracing their descent from King Richard III of England.

Genealogist Josh Taylor said that the relationship isn’t as extraordinary as it may sound. “Millions of Americans, of course, are descended from royalty,” he said. According to, historian Ian Mortimer actually calculates that most modern Brits descend from Edward III. That means that many Americans with English ancestry also share him as a distant relative.

An impressive pedigree indeed

Brooke Shields is almost as closely related to Queen Elizabeth II as Hilary Duff is. She can trace her lineage to King Henry II of France, making her the queen’s second cousin, once removed. The Washington Post commented on Shields’ famous ancestors, which include many early settlers of New England, five popes, and the royal houses of pretty much every European country.

The truly impressive thing, however, is not Shields’ famous family members but that her family tree is documented well enough to trace it in such detail. “Millions of people have provable descents from medieval monarchs,” said Mark Humphrys, an amateur genealogist and computer science professor. “The number of people with unprovable descents must be massive.”

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