Princess Diana's Hidden Ancestral Secret Revealed

British scientists have used DNA to reveal Princess Diana's Indian roots.

ByABC News
June 14, 2013, 10:38 AM

LONDON, June 14, 2013— -- Once upon a time, a woman from India named Eliza Kewark was shunned by her family because of her race.

The father of her child referred to her as the "housekeeper" and the "purported mother" of their daughter, Katharine.

Katharine was sent off without her mother to England, and that's where this story might have ended. But Katherine gave birth to Jane, who gave birth to Ruth, who had another Ruth, who had Frances, who had Diana.

As in Princess Diana.

Which means that Great Britain will, one day, have a monarch with Indian blood, and the Commonwealth will be led by a king with a clear genetic link to its most populous nation.

Eliza Kewark is Prince William's great-great-great-great-great-grandmother. She has long been described as Armenian, but Kewark was at least half-Indian, the genetic ancestry testing company BritainsDNA announced today.

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BritainsDNA says it is confident of Kewark's lineage because it traced Williams' mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, which is passed down from mother to child. BritainsDNA took saliva samples from two unnamed members of the royal family and traced it back seven generations to Kewark, who was born around 1790.

Kewark's mtDNA is so rare, BritainsDNA said, that it has only been found in 14 other people, all but one of whom was Indian (the other one was Nepali).

"It is therefore likely that Prince William has not only inherited a small proportion of Indian DNA from Eliza Kewark but her heirs will also carry it," BritainsDNA said today.

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According to the biography "The Real Diana," by Lady Colin Campbell, Kewark's background was known but kept quiet by a family that was full of Europeans descended from royalty.

"Eliza Kewark was a dark-skinned native of Bombay who had lived, without benefit of matrimony, with her great-great-grandfather Theodore Forbes while he worked for the East India Company," "The Real Diana" reads.

"Unsavory as the taint of illegitimacy was, even at that distance in time, it was nothing compared with the stigma of what was then known as 'colored blood.' Had it been generally known that Ruth [Diana's great-grandmother] and her children were part-Indian, they might never have made good marriages.

"Eliza's true race was therefore expunged from the family tree and she reemerged as an Armenian. This fiction was maintained even when Diana married the Prince of Wales."

But times have changed and, today, and the family of Diana, who died in a car accident in 1997, celebrated their Indian heritage.

Mary Roach, Princess Diana's maternal-aunt, told The Times, "I always assumed that I was part-Armenian so I am delighted that I also have an Indian background."