How Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Are Secretly Related

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh have been married for 72 years, but their relationship goes much farther back. In fact, they knew each other from childhood—and are cousins.

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 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh are not only cousins, but cousins through more than one line of descent. Here’s how the two royal lovebirds, whose marriage was not arranged by their families, are related:

Both are great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria:

  • Queen Elizabeth: Queen Elizabeth was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary 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. Think the royal family tree is interesting? You’ll love these 11 other fascinating facts about Queen Elizabeth.
  • Prince Phillip: Prince Philip was born Prince Philip of Denmark and Greece 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— and this is why.

Having had the same great-great-grandmother (Queen Victoria), Elizabeth (the progeny of Victoria’s son, King Edward VII) and Philip (the progeny of Victoria’s daughter, Princess Alice) are third cousins. Want to see what these third cousins looked like before they were married? Don’t miss these 23 rarely seen photos of the royal family.

Prince Philip and the Queen are also related through King Christian IX of Denmark:

  • Queen Elizabeth: Christian IX was the great-great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth’s father was George VI, who was the son of George V, who was the son of Alexandra of Denmark (who was married to King Edward VII, the son of Queen Victoria), 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 Philip and Elizabeth second cousins once removed.

Although it’s hard to imagine marrying your second or third cousin today, these sentimental photos of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip show how the arrangement worked out well for the royal couple.

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.