Might well be descended from Mohammed

This is one of those things which will have people going “Hunh?” but which on closer reflection is rather likely – that Queen Elizabeth II of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (and varied other lesser places like Canada, Australia, Tristan da Cunha and so on) is descended from the Prophet Mohammed. I don’t intend to claim that it’s absolutely true, only that it wouldn’t be a surprise in the slightest if it were.

There are three reasons why this might be so:

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is a descendant of Prophet Muhammed, a Moroccan newspaper has claimed, attributing the bizarre finding to a study.

According to the Daily Mail, the findings were first published in 1986 by Burke’s Peerage, a British authority on royal pedigrees. The Morrocan newspaper has claimed that 43 generations of Queen Elizabeth’s family have been traced to produce the research finding that the Queen is a distant relative of the Prophet.

The first reason being that it seems as if it might – OK, could – be true. Someone has checked and to their satisfaction at least they think they can show the line of descent. Yes, true, old geneologies are pretty suspect but. It’s not certain of course:

Awni points out that the ruler of Seville in the 11th century, Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn Abbad, was a direct descendant of the Prophet through Fatimah.
Al-Qasim formed his own dynasty, the Abbasids, and became the ruler of Seville in al-Andalus in 1023. He had a daughter named Zaida. During an attack on the Abbasid kingdom by the Almoravids, the Muslim princess fled to king Alfonso VI’s court – the Spanish king of Leon, Castille and Galicia. She changed her name to Isabella, converted to Roman Catholicism and bore Alfonso VI of Castille a son called Sancha and his blood line runs through Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd earl of Cambridge, grandson of king Edward III of England.

Whether Zaida was a daughter or the widow of a minor son, that sort of thing, is mildly disputed. But it’s the sort of thing which is true – well, in the absence of it actually being true in every detail – for two further reasons.

The first is simply that we’re all descendants of someone. By the time, and I always forget the actual numbers, we get out to 13 th or 16th cousins then we require more ancestors than there were actually people at the relevant time. Certainly, by the time we’re out to 20th cousins, well beyond the usual definition of kissing such, we’ve exceeded global population. Sure, populations aren’t all that mobile so the Oz Abo influence on European genetics is pretty meagre.

But there’s more, royal genetics are rather more concentrated. Mohammed’s descendants were, some of them at least, equivalent at least to royalty within a generation or two of his death. They then carried on the game of rich people – landed or titled perhaps – intermarriage just as did every other feudal Lord.

That Brenda is descended from Mohammed is unproven at best, but it’s one of those things which is as likely as not given the time which has passed. As, of course, it’s not that unlikely for you or I. After all, it is possible for several percentage points of all extant humans to be descended from the rather later Genghis Khan, isn’t it?

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  1. If one is to give credence to Wiki “Bishop Pelagius of Oviedo mentions Zaida as one of the king’s two concubines and says that she was the daughter of Al-Mu’tamid ibn Abbad, ruler of the Taifa of Seville. In fact, she was his daughter-in-law, married to his son Abu Nasr Al-Fath al-Ma’mun, ruler of the Taifa of Córdoba.[” .So presumably not a descendent of the pederast on her father’s side. And one would have thought the arts graduates at the Mail would have noticed the feminine ending of Sancha. Or are they implying an early travesti?

    In any case, lineages like this are a reflection of marriages not parentage. Only takes one of the long list of queens (no slur on Sancho intended) to have opened her legs for one of the servants an an inopportune moment and the line’s broken. And in the days before DNA testing, who’s to know?