The remains of King Richard III may be locked away in a coffin to be reburied this week, but the 15th-century king’s genome is still offering scientists a chance to unravel royal mysteries. After scientists uncovered evidence of infidelity in Richard’s family tree last year, they have discovered more hints of daddy drama in the historical family.
Having worked in the world of genetic genealogy for years, this is not at all surprising to me.
Turi King, geneticist at the University of Leicester
A match was found between Richard’s mitochondrial DNA (which is passed down only through the mother) and the mitochondrial DNA from two living female-line descendants of Richard’s sister Anne of York: Michael Ibsen and Wendy Duldig. But no match was found between Richard’s Y chromosome (which is passed down only through the father) and the Y chromosomes from a group of five of his living male-line relatives. This means there was at least one “break” in the genetic line somewhere between Richard’s great-great-grandfather Edward III and Henry Somerset. To narrow down where this break occurred, King took a DNA sample from a man named Patrice de Warren, who emailed her and said he was a male-line descendant of Geoffrey, the Count of Anjou, who lived from 1113 to 1151. But de Warren’s Y chromosome doesn’t match either of these, King said, meaning there was at least one more case of false paternity in Richard’s extended family tree.
Lots of people contact me saying they think they might be related to Richard and would be happy to submit a DNA sample.