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Exclusive: Kate Middleton is related to Madonna's ex-husband!

By Jim Boulden, CNN
  • Kate Middleton is related to Madonna's ex-husband, film director Guy Ritchie, and actress Ellen DeGeneres
  • Kate is descended from a wide cross-section of British people, including coal miners, a washer-woman and laboring Londoners
  • Kate shares ancestry with George Washington and the late Diana, Princess of Wales
  • Kate and Prince William are 14th cousins

London (CNN) -- Is Kate Middleton common?

It may sound like a crass question, but it's one that is being asked of genealogists when it comes to the roots of the future Queen of England.

To help find the answer, I sat down with D. Brenton Simons, the CEO of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (of which I am one of some 25,000 members) to unpick the research that experts at NEHGS have carried out since Prince William and Kate started to date years ago.

In the press release for the new book from the NEHGS entitled "The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton," the society asks if Kate is common, since so many people say she will be the first commoner to marry royalty in Britain. That of course is not true, as the book stresses: Anyone who is not royal is by definition common -- including the late Diana, Princess of Wales and even the late Queen Mother.

Kate Middleton's ancestry

So, the answer is, Kate is common.

Kate's shared ancestry with Guy Ritchie (PDF)

Still, Kate's genes do reveal a wide cross section of British history and geography: northern coal miners, a washer-woman from Durham, laboring Londoners, the founder of the Lupton family fortune and even a third great-grandfather who landed in Holloway prison, probably for debt, in 1881.

"I think what's interesting is that the future royal family will have ancestry really in all British classes," Simons told me. "But then they are also folks who had maybe (a harder) existence -- charwomen, laborers, messengers."

The Middletons are found in the census in Leeds from 1841 to 1901. Her father was born there in 1949. She also has a bank manager great-grandfather born in Essex.

Fact Box
Kate Middleton's relations
Guy Ritchie (6th cousins)
George Washington (8th cousins)
Ellen DeGeneres (14th cousins)
Prince William (14th cousins)

Go back far enough and Kate, like many of us, has illustrious ancestors and collateral relatives.

Kate is already blood-related to her future husband (14th cousins) since they both descend from King Edward I. She is also related to the late Diana, Princess of Wales -- and it might be news to her that she and film director Guy Ritchie (Madonna's former husband) are sixth cousins.

Unveiled: Ellen DeGeneres and Kate Middleton are cousins!

In addition, Kate shares ancestry with George Washington, U.S. General Patton and Francis Scott Key, lyricist of "The Star-Spangled Banner." She is also related to talk-show host and actress Ellen DeGeneres (again as 14th cousins).

Many Americans are most interested by their connection to members of royalty. People in the United States who can take their own lines back to colonial America can find themselves with royal lines.

In England, I suspect it is different. For those who do care about who marries into the royal family, it's her "common" roots that will be appealing.

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