A DNA study that confirmed a skeleton found in 2012 was that of Richard III also found evidence of “false paternity” that raises doubts about the royal claims of centuries of British monarchs, researchers say.
The study said the remains matched the DNA of two descendants of Richard III’s sister, Anne of York, meaning researchers are certain “beyond reasonable doubt” that the skeleton is indeed the king’s. But there was no match through the male line of the family, descended from John of Gaunt, the brother of Richard III’s great-grandfather.
That means that at some point there must have been a child whose presumed father according to the official genealogy was not his real father. The skeleton of the king, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, was found under a car park in Leicester in central England.
It is due to be reinterred in the city in March next year.
“A false paternity event (or events) at some point(s) in this genealogy could be of key historical significance,” said a paper in the journal Nature Communications by a team led by the University of Leicester geneticist Turi King.
At a press conference in London, Kevin Schurer, a deputy chancellor at the university, said: “What we discovered is that there is a break in the chain … We don’t know where that break occurred.”
“We are not in any way indicating that Her Majesty [reigning Queen Elizabeth II] should not be on the throne,” he said, adding that the history of the British monarchy took “all kinds of twists and turns”.
The study said the result could question the legitimacy of Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI and “the entire Tudor dynasty” starting with Henry VII followed by Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.
If the false paternity occurred further down in the genealogy, this would concern only the non-royal family of the current dukes of Beaufort.
The DNA of five living individuals from the aristocratic family was used for the research.
The results also showed Richard III had a “96 per cent probability of having blue eyes together with a 77 per cent probability of having blond hair” – meaning that only one of several surviving portraits of the ill-fated king actually resembles him.
“We conclude that the evidence is overwhelming that Skeleton 1 from the Grey Friars site in Leicester is that of Richard III, thereby closing a 500-year missing person case,” the study said.
Source: ABC News