How Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Were Secretly Related

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were married for more than 70 years, but their relationship went much further back. In fact, they knew each other from childhood—and they were cousins.

Editor’s note: Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, who sat on the throne for 70 years, has died at 96 years old. In a statement on Sept. 8, 2022, the Royal Family website writes, “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.” The Reader’s Digest team sends condolences to the royal family and all of Britain at this time as we honor her life and legacy.

Historically, marriage among royals wasn’t so much about love as it was about strengthening alliances for political gain, which could be achieved most conveniently through marriages arranged between members of European dynasties. What was also achieved, however, whether intentionally or not, was that most of Europe’s royal families now share common ancestors.

That’s why it’s really not surprising that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were not only cousins—they were cousins through more than one line of descent. Here’s how the two royal lovebirds, whose marriage was not arranged by their families, were related. Our royal family tree will help you keep everyone straight.

Both were great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria

  • Queen Elizabeth: Queen Elizabeth was born in 1926, the eldest child of then-Prince Albert (later, King George VI), who was the second son of King George V, who was the second son of King Edward VII, who was Queen Victoria’s second child.
  • Prince Phillip: Prince Philip was born in 1921 to Princess Alice of Battenberg, whose mother was Princess Victoria of Hesse, whose mother was Princess Alice, who was Queen Victoria’s third child. Although he married the Queen of England, Prince Phillip did not become the king.

Having had the same great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were third cousins.

Prince Philip and the Queen were also cousins through King Christian IX of Denmark

  • Queen Elizabeth: King Christian IX of Denmark was the great-great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth’s father, George VI, was the son of George V, who was the son of Alexandra of Denmark, who was the daughter of Christian IX.
  • Prince Philip: King Christian IX of Denmark was Prince Philip’s paternal great-grandfather. Philip’s father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, who was the son of Prince George I of Greece, who was the son of Christian IX.

To put it another way, Prince Philip had the same great-grandfather as Queen Elizabeth’s father, George VI, making Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth second cousins once removed.

Next, read on to learn about other royals who married their relatives.

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Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.