How are the European Royal Families Related

by | Jun 16, 2023 | Aristocracy, France, Germany, Italy, Kingdoms, Kings, Noble Titles, Queens, Royal Titles

The royal dynasties of Europe have a long history of family connections and shared heritage. For centuries, it was the custom within the great royal houses of Europe to look to join forces via strategic marriages and profitable alliances. 

As a result, the family trees of many of the European royal families reveal a surprising number of curious connections. Some of these familial links relate to the great royal characters of centuries past, yet there are also some surprising links that connect the modern royals of today with both historical and contemporary figures from neighbouring nations. 

Here are just a few of the fascinating ways that the European royal families are related. 

Tsar Nicholas II & King George V Of England

One of the most famous connections of the last century was the link between the Tsar of Russia and the King of England. 

Historically, the rulers of such great nations may have been regarded as enemies or rivals, but in the case of Tsar Nicholas II and King George V of England, the two mighty sovereigns were actually first cousins. In many photos from the period, it’s even evident with remarkable clarity that the two men actually looked alike, often being compared to brothers rather than cousins. 

This fascinating link was the result of the mothers of the two men, who were sisters. The mother of King George V of England was Alexandra of Denmark. Her sister, Dagmar of Denmark, was the mother of the Russian Tsar. 

The links between Russia and England were strengthened even further when the Tsar married one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters, Princess Alix of Hesse

While this family connection may have smoothed political relations during the reign of the two rulers, it would notoriously fail as the Russian Empire began to crumble in 1917. 

Despite petitions to their English relatives, the Russian Tsar and Tsarina would perish at the hands of the Bolshevik Revolutionaries, a fate that shook the world and would be a great source of sadness within the British Royal Family for generations to follow. 

King Of Greece & The Prince Of Wales

It’s well known that the current Prince of Wales, Prince William, has a famous royal heritage. His father is the current King of England, King Charles III, and his grandmother was the late Queen Elizabeth II who ruled Great Britain for over seven decades. 

What’s often less well known is that Prince William also has royal roots that connect him with the great King of Greece, George I, who reigned from 1863 to 1913. 

Photograph of George I of Greece

Photograph of George I of Greece – Unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

George I had a number of children, one of which – Prince Andrew would become the father of a young boy named Philip. This child, himself a Greek royal prince, would become one of the most famous royal consorts in the world when he married the woman who, at the time, was known as Princess Elizabeth, but who would one day become the Queen of England. 

The eldest son of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II, the former Prince Charles, Prince of Wales – now King Charles III – is the father of Prince William. This is how the current Prince of Wales is related to the Greek royal line and the King of Greece, George I.    

In yet another curious connection between the royal families of Europe, King George I of Greece was also the brother of the two women that connected the Russian Tsar and the King of England – Alexandra and Dagmar. 

Additionally, Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was the daughter of Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, who was the sister-in-law of the Russian Tsar, as well as a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, meaning that Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth had a shared royal heritage from a few generations prior. 

Empress Of Austria & King Ludwig II of Bavaria

Ludwig II of Bavaria may be best known for the stunning legacy of castles and cultural works that he commissioned during his lifetime. 

His undoubted masterpiece is Neuschwanstein Castle, the breathtakingly beautiful residence he commissioned in honour of his beloved composer, Richard Wagner. The castle remains today one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions and legend has it that this was the inspiration for the famous fairy tale castle depicted in many Disney films and branding. 

One of the lesser-known facts about the famous King Ludwig was that this Bavarian King was closely related to the Empress of Austria. 

Empress  Elizabeth, known as Sisi throughout the world and famed for her charm and beauty, was the daughter of a Bavarian Duke. Yet it was her mother’s royal connections that would link her with the King of Bavaria. 

The Empress’s mother was the sister of King Ludwig I, meaning that Elizabeth and the king’s son Ludwig II, were cousins. It’s also widely believed that the two were great companions during their childhood, close enough for many to speculate that the two would marry. 

Fate had other plans, however, and the young Bavarian beauty would find herself married to the Emperor of Austria, Franz-Joseph, though she remained close to her cousin when he became King of Bavaria. 

This is how the Empress of Austria and the Bavarian King were related, via direct family ties and close relations. They were also connected via an enduring bond and fondness that lasted throughout their respective reigns and challenges. Perhaps their shared childhood and subsequent rise to the epitome of sovereign power meant they had a great deal in common in later life, each serving as a kindred soul to the other as they navigated the trials of fame and eminent royal status. 

The histories and connections of Europe’s royal families make for a fascinating study. It’s remarkable how many names and family lines reappear in the stories and lineages of the various royal houses of Europe over the centuries. 

These complex and intriguing family connections also make it possible to imagine the great names of history simply as family members, with siblings, parents, cousins and spouses – just like the rest of us.

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