Acting royalty: The celebrities with real regal connections

Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Hugh Grant, Paris Hilton and co can all trace their family history back to majestic and royal roots

We bandy around the phrase “Hollywood royalty” quite a bit. But it turns out royal blood does run in the veins of plenty of famous faces.


Seriously. Get out the royal jewels and cover them in ermine, this illustrious lot are worthy of their very own thrones…

Kit Harington

He might have an unknown bloodline in Game of Thrones, but in real life the actor who plays Jon Snow is a descendant of Charles II. His royal connections hail from his paternal grandmother Lavender Cecilia Denny.

Hilary Duff

Actress and singer Hilary Duff might once have been dubbed the Princess of the Disney Channel, but it turns out the 26-year-old star actually is related to true royalty (sorry Mickey). She’s our Queen’s 18th cousin, as the pair share ancestor King Edward III, who ruled between 1327 and 1377.

Brooke Shields

Endless Love actress Brooke Shields uncovered her royal connections in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? Her extraordinary journey revealed that she was directly descended from King Henry IV of France – and that Louis XIV was a cousin, generations removed. And as if that wasn’t enough illustrious ancestors, she also shares a relation with the Queen, in the form of Henry II of France, making her the UK monarch’s 18th cousin, once removed. 

Hugh Grant

With his floppy locks and bumbling intonation, Hugh Grant is already one of Britain’s most iconic actors. So it seems only fitting that the 53-year-old London-born star descends from Henry VII, the first monarch of the House of Tudor, and Henry VIII’s dad. That’s not all, though – he also counts James IV, King of Scotland between 1488 and 1513, as one of the family. Naturally. 

Maggie and Jake Gyllenhall 

Acting siblings Maggie and Jake Gynllenhall come from nobel stock. The pair are 19th cousins to the Queen because of their shared ancestor King Edward III, who they are related to through their father’s side. 

Tom Hanks

57-year-old Hanks names some worthy films on his CV – think Forest Gump, Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan –which seems quite right for a royal descendant. Hanks comes from lofty beginnings, counting King John of England, who ruled from 1199 to 1216, among his ancestors. 

Michael Douglas

With four Golden Globes, two Oscars and an Emmy under his belt, 69-year-old Michael Douglas can definitely be classed as Hollywood royalty. And it turns out he can kind of be classed as actual royalty, too. As a distant relation of King Edward III, he’s the Queen’s 19th cousin, once removed. 

Ellen Degeneres

Chat show host Ellen Degeneres has two royal connections. The 56-year-old performer is 15th cousins with the Duchess of Cambridge, and is ALSO 19th cousins, twice removed with the Queen, since her family descended, like the Gynllenhalls and Douglas’s, from King Edward III. By rights, she should have been wearing a crown in that Oscars selfie.

Robert Pattinson

The honorable Pattinson, he of teen vampire drama Twilight, is a distant cousin of Prince William and Harry. But apparently (and hilariously) Pattinson’s family has been also traced back to Vlad the Impaler, the real-life inspiration behind Dracula. Which is just brilliant. 

Paris Hilton 

It sounds unlikely, but Paris Hilton, the socialite and heiress of sex-tape fame, is related to the Queen. Yep, the 33-year-old is actually Elizabeth II’s 20th cousin, because they both share an ancestor in Henry II of England, a man famous for his piercing stare and bursts of temper. 

Uma Thurman 

Kill Bill actress Uma Thurman has rather highborn ancestors. Namely, Edward I (otherwise known as Longshanks), who ruled between England between 1272 and 1307. Thurman is a direct descendant on her father’s side, making her the Queen’s 21st cousin, once removed. Fancy, eh?

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

Two Hollywood heavyweights who both happen to come from a royal bloodline. Through her mother Marcheline Bertrand, Jolie is the Queen’s 26th cousin, as they share an ancestor in Phillip II of France, while her partner Brad Pitt, who descends from Henry II, is the monarch’s 25th cousin, twice removed. Seriously. Could this pair get any more perfect?

Johnny Depp 

Like you needed any more reasons to fancy films star Johnny Depp… but it turns out the 50-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean star and our Queen are cousins, 20 times removed. So if those daydreams of yours ever do come true you could end up a little bit royal too. 

Celine Dion

International star, chart topper, Eurovision Song Contest winner. And, it seems, royal descendant. Canadian-born Celine Dion has ancestral ties to King Philippe II of France. 

Tilda Swinton 

The Chronicles of Narnia actress kind of has a stately air to her, doesn’t she? And that’s for a reason. The Swintons are an ancient Anglo-Scots family who can trace their roots back an impressively long way. And therefore also prove that they are descended from King Robert I of Scotland