Roots of Power

Running in the family? David Cameron with Her Majesty the Queen

I read a newspaper article recently that said ‘Research published today shows that he (David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party and Prime Minister) is, in fact, related to the Queen through an illegitimate royal child’. Others say he’s related to the British Royal Family by descent through his paternal grandmother from King William IV. This would make him a fifth cousin, twice removed of the Queen. He is also said to be a descendant of the 1st Marques of Montrose, as well as of Frederick V, Elector Palatine and Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, the daughter of King James I. All of this made me smile because, should he eventually become prime minister, he would be, if the speculation were proven to be true, in great company. No less than fifteen previous British prime ministers had a common ancestor namely Sir George Villiers of Brooksby who was the Sheriff of Leicester under Queen Elizabeth I. Grafton, Portland, Chatham, Pitt, Devonshire, Melbourne, Grenville, Aberdeen, Derby, Russell, Salisbury, Balfour, Churchill, Eden and Home. What is even more intriguing is that if one were to look at Sir George’s ancestry outside of the political spectrum, one would discover that he is a descendant, not only of our own Queen Elizabeth II, but also Bertrand Russell, Henry Fielding (author of Tom Jones), Lady Hester Stanhope, Lord Longford and Captain Robert Fitzroy of HMS Beagle, which sailed around the world with Charles Darwin aboard as naturalist. I’m not suggesting for one minute that David Cameron is related in any way to Sir George Villiers, nor am I intimating that there has ever been some ‘grand design’ in the pursuit of political power by a given family but I do find it fascinating that the press, whilst concentrating on one piece of ‘juicy’ political-royal connection, should choose to ignore an even greater thread from Downing Street to Buckingham Palace. The Cameron story pales into insignificance when compared to the tale of Sir George Villiers of Brooksby. Even the conspiracy theorists seem to have missed the mouth watering connection between so many British governments being led by an individual who was distantly related to our present monarch. It is possible that this is all just a huge coincidence, and, for sure, if perhaps one, two or even three prime ministers had been related in some way to our present Queen I might agree. However fifteen is not an insignificant number – quite remarkable in fact. David Cameron, if the recent reports are to be believed, heralded the start of a whole new political-royal dynasty when he become the First Lord of the Treasury.

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