5 Celebrities Who Descend From Royalty and Nobility

Quite a few people wish to be famous celebrities or royals, but some don’t really need to choose. There are a number of esteemed actors and actresses who descend from the world’s royalty and nobility. Though they don’t sport crowns or royal garb, these celebrities were born to rule the entertainment industry: 

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Benedict Cumberbatch 

Acclaimed British actor Benedict Cumberbatch has performed in countless award-winning movies, TV series, blockbuster films, and even theater productions. These include BBC’s Sherlock, Marvel’s Doctor Strange, 2007’s Atonement, 2014’s The Imitation Game, and Star Trek: Into Darkness, just to name a few. 

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch descended from royalty
Actor Benedict Cumberbatch/Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

In 2016, the actor played the role of King Richard III of England in a drama series based on the play by William Shakespeare. However, it turns out that the role was made for Cumberbatch, who happens to be a descendant of Richard III himself. 

A portrait of King Richard III
A portrait of King Richard III (c.1520) by Barthel II/Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Kevin Schurer, a genealogist at the University of Leicester, discovered that the actor is linked to the former king several times through Richard’s mother, Cecily Neville, as per The Guardian. That makes Richard III the second cousin of Cumberbatch, 16 times removed. The actor even read a poem during the late king’s reburial in Leicester Church back in 2015. 

Ralph Fiennes 

Another English actor has pretty close ties with the monarchy. The BAFTA and Tony Award winning actor behind hits like Schindler’s List, as well as his brother Joseph, descend from the line of King James II of Scotland.

Actor Ralph Fiennes descended from royalty
Actor Ralph Fiennes/Photo by Dick Thomas Johnson via Wikimedia Commons

This makes Fiennes the eighth cousin of none other than King Charles, Prince of Wales, as per Marie Claire. However, the media isn’t quite sure if that puts Fiennes in line to the throne, but he certainly carries himself with the regality of someone from a royal family. 

A 17th-century oil portrait of King James II of Scotland
A 17th-century oil portrait of King James II of Scotland/Photo from the National Galleries Scotland via Wikimedia Commons

Hilary Duff

Hilary Duff rose to fame in the early to mid-2000s thanks to her roles in numerous teen movies and the popular Lizzie McGuire series. The actress is synonymous to childhood for many millennials and Gen Z individuals. However, one wouldn’t expect the American actress to have surprisingly close blood relations to Queen Elizabeth II. 

Actress Hilary Duff
Actress Hilary Duff/Photo via Wikimedia Commons

In fact, a 2012 study from FindMyPast.com named Duff as America’s “most royal” celebrity, as per CBS News. The actress’ “gateway ancestor” is a British Army officer by the name of Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740), a 10th great-grandson of Edward III. 

“Portrait of a Woman,” suspected to be Catherine Carey, by Steven Van Der Meulen
“Portrait of a Woman,” suspected to be Catherine Carey, by Steven Van Der Meulen/Photo from the Yale Center for British Art via Wikimedia Commons

However, it doesn’t just end there. Duff is also a descendant of Catherine Carey, who some historians believe is the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII. 

Angelina Jolie 

Oscar-winning actress, film producer, and humanitarian Angelina Jolie also has royal lineage. Of course, she’s always carried an air of sophistication, so it’s no surprise that she’s got blue blood. 

Actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie/Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Jolie and her mother, Marie Bertrand, descend from French royalty. Both are related to the first king of France, Philip II, according to Elle Australia. Much like Duff, Jolie’s royal connection is pretty deep, as she’s also 26th cousins with Queen Elizabeth II. 

A portrait of King Philip II by Jean Du Tillet
A portrait of King Philip II by Jean Du Tillet/Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Jake Gyllenhall

Actor Jake Gyllenhall, and his sister, Maggie Gyllenhall, have quite the intriguing lineage. They descend from Swedish nobility, but also happen to be related to the British monarchy. 

Actor Jake Gyllenhaal
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal/Photo by Glenn Francis via Wikimedia Commons

The Swedish monarchy actually bestowed the last name “Gyllenhall” onto an ancestor of Jake’s, Nills Hall. Queen Christina knighted Nills for his bravery during the 30 Years War. Gyllen, the Swedish word for “golden,” was often added to the name of knights—thus the surname of “Gyllenhall” (pronounced Yee-Len-Halleh) according to a video by Biography. Every generation of the actor’s family has carried the noble title, including him, his sister, and his father. 

The official crest of the Gyllenhaal family
The official crest of the Gyllenhaal family/Photo via Wikimedia Commons

However, the Gyllenhaal siblings are also distantly related to King Edward III and are 19th cousins to the late Queen Elizabeth II, according to Elle Australia and Insider

Banner photo by Georges Biard via Wikimedia Commons; Feature photo from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Wikimedia Commons.

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