Monday morning, Kensington Palace announced that the British royal family is about to get one member larger. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex — or, as they’re known to their friends, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — are expecting their first child in the spring of 2019.
The news of another royal baby would probably make Anushka Le Charnay (Marthe Keller), the prickly Romanov descendant in Matthew Weiner’s new Amazon series The Romanoffs, quite happy. Anushka is desperately concerned with the vitality of the Romanov family line. As it turns out, the unborn British royal baby will be a Romanov. Prince William and Kate Middleton’s three children — George, Charlotte, and Louis — are already related to the Romanovs.
Read a single book about European history and it'll come as no surprise that these Windsor family youth connect back to the last dynasty to rule Russia. Given centuries of strategic intermarrying, many of the members of European royal families are related. William and Harry can trace their steps to the doomed Romanov clan through both their grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
Both Elizabeth and Philip's connections to the Romanovs stem from Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, Nicholas II’s wife and the last tsarina of Russia. Prince Philip’s father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, was the grandnephew of Alexandra. Since Alexandra was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, she's also related to Elizabeth, who is Victoria's great-great-granddaughter.
Philip’s connection to the Romanovs is far more immediate than Elizabeth’s. In fact, Philip’s DNA was used to squash one of the most enduring urban legends surrounding the Romanovs: That one of the Romanov children survived their gruesome assassination at the hands of the Bolsheviks. In 1918, Tsar Nicholas II, wife Alexandra, and their five children were murdered in a basement cellar in a mansion Ekaterinburg where they had been under house arrest for month. Since the family was killed far from the capital of St. Petersburg and their bodies were disposed of in secret, urban legends about their fates proliferated, eventually leading to famous scammers like Anna Anderson and the animated (and not Disney) cartoon Anastasia.
Prince Philip’s DNA has become a key, of sorts, to confirming the identities of the Romanov remains. Nearly a century after they were murdered, the mutilated remains of some members of the Romanov family were discovered in unmarked graves in 1991. In 1998, Philip’s DNA, along with that of other relatives, was used to confirm that the bodies belonged to the Romanovs. This was a landmark moment for more reasons than squelching Romanov conspiracies — it was also one of the first instances DNA was used to solve a historic case. Philip's DNA was used again when the bodies of two children in a second unmarked grave were found in 2007. Through DNA analysis, the bodies were confirmed as those of Alexei and Maria Romanov.
Philip has acknowledged Russian ancestry in typically cheeky fashion. In 1967, Philip said, "I would like to go to Russia very much, although the bastards murdered half my family.”
Finally, since we're on the subject of the convoluted nature of European royal family trees, we might as address the fact that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are, indeed, third cousins. They are both the great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's young child will join the Windsor family, adding another entry to an ever-complicated lineage.