Prince William has 'proven Indian ancestry'
The Duke of Cambridge has proven Indian ancestry, according to new DNA analysis.
Scientists testing saliva samples from Prince William's relatives discovered a direct link between the future king and a woman who was part-Indian.
The connection traces back just eight generations, with the woman, Eliza Kewark, being the Duke's great, great, great, great, great grandmother.
She was housekeeper to his fifth great-grandfather Theodore Forbes, born in 1788, a Scottish merchant who worked for the East India Company in Surat, a port north of Bombay.
The research was carried out by BritainsDNA, a genetic ancestry testing company, which found that the Duke's genetic connection to the populous Commonwealth nation runs through the maternal line.
They used a mixture of traditional genealogy and cutting-edge science to come up with the findings.
The research shows that the second in line to the throne carries Eliza's mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mitochondrial DNA is a small piece of DNA inherited mostly unchanged from a mother to her children.
In this instance, the mtDNA was passed on by Eliza's daughters and granddaughters directly in an unbroken line to Princess Diana, then on to Prince William and Prince Harry, researchers found.
Scientists said it is "very likely" that Prince William's heirs will also carry a small proportion of Indian DNA from Eliza, whose father may have been of Armenian descent.
Dr Jim Wilson, a genetics expert at the University of Edinburgh and chief scientist at BritainsDNA, who carried out the scientific research, said: "This is a great example of how genetics can be used to answer specific historical questions and uncover fascinating facts about our ancestry."
Eliza, who was born around 1790 and lived in India when it was governed by the East India Company, is thought to have had Armenian blood because of her surname and the presence of Armenian script in letters from her to Theodore.
Dr Wilson said: "I've been intrigued by genealogy all my life and I am a geneticist. I became aware of Eliza a couple of years ago.
"She was reported to be Armenian but she was living in Bombay, apparently. This intrigued me.
"I was wondering if it was possible she was Indian. What was an Armenian doing in Bombay? That's what got me interested."
Using birth, marriage and death records, he said researchers traced two of Eliza's living direct descendants, who are both third cousins of Princess Diana's mother, Frances Shand Kydd.
Because of the way mtDNA is inherited, he said it was possible to carry out a simple test centred around this small piece of DNA, which is inherited from mother to daughter down the generations.
By reading the sequence of their mtDNA, scientists determined that Eliza's mtDNA was of Indian heritage. Those behind the project believe all the evidence they have gathered shows that her genetic heritage through her motherline was Indian.
Using other genetic tests to corroborate the findings, they also discovered that the two direct descendants were around 0.3% and 0.8% South Asian. The rest of their DNA was of European origin.
"This was independent evidence that there was Indian ancestry," said Dr Wilson.
"For me, it corroborated the findings from the mtDNA. We've got two different kinds of genetic evidence that are independent from one another and they both corroborate the story.
"So it really seems that our future king has a little bit of Indian blood."
He also said that, if Theodore still has living descendants, it is possible that William and Harry have cousins in India.
As for Eliza Kewark, Dr Wilson said very little is known about her, including when she died.
He said: "Theodore described her as his housekeeper. It appears they weren't married.
"Mixed blood is something we celebrate today but that was very much not the case in the past."
Dr Wilson described the overall findings as "really exciting".
"I've been using genetics to answer specific historical questions for a long time but this is one of the most interesting ones I've ever been involved in," he said.
"What intrigues me and BritainsDNA is how many other people are out there in England or Scotland who might have a tiny amount of Indian ancestry and not know it."
Alistair Moffat, managing director of BritainsDNA, explained the thinking behind the research.
"What we're trying to do is look at Britain and the whole national genome, but everybody is interested in royal DNA.
"Royal lineages have been of public interest for centuries. We simply came across this and followed it up. It's a very positive story."
Mr Moffat researched some of the historical background to the study and found that Theodore Forbes was the third son of a landowning family.
He said: "It was pretty clear to him that he wasn't going to inherit the property, so he came down to Leith (near Edinburgh) and I believe he got involved in the tea business.
"He made contact with the East India Company and got himself a job. He went out (to India) as a young Scotsman on the make and it appears he was successful.
"That's where he met Eliza and he employed her as his housekeeper. It wasn't uncommon for young British men to have relationships with Indian women."
Mr Moffat said it was "fantastically exciting and unexpected" to uncover such as story in the future king's family tree.