Comedian Josh Widdicombe has learnt he’s a descendent of both English and French royalty during filming for the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?
In the British genealogy documentary series, celebrities trace their family history to find out where they originated from, and in Widdicombe’s episode – which aired on Tuesday, 12th October – Josh Widdicombe discovers that he’s related to British royalty.
But Widdicombe’s royal roots go back even further, as the 38-year-old later learns he is a direct descendent of French royalty as well.
After finding out about his 14 times great grandmother Mary Boleyn (sister of Anne Boleyn), Widdicombe meets with historian, Dr Owen Emerson, who reveals Josh’s possible relation to King Henry VIII.
“Josh I’d like to introduce you to your 14 times great grandmother – Mary Boleyn. And she has quite a colourful history. History hasn’t been particularly kind to Mary,” Emerson says as he goes on to detail Mary’s chequered past.
He tells Widdicombe that Mary had a “bad reputation” for being King Henry VIII’s “mistress”, which the king himself revealed.
“He [Henry VIII] was questioned as to whether he’d slept with Mary and her mother Elizabeth Howard and Henry replied, ‘Never the mother.'” Emmerson adds.
Emmerson explains that during those times kings liked to have affairs with married women, as any offspring couldn’t be “attributed” to the king.
Mary was married to William Carrey at the time, however some historians believe her older daughter Katherine was Henry VIII’s biological child.
Some respected historians therefore believe Widdicombe is a direct descendent of Henry VIII.
Mary and Henry’s affair isn’t the only love triangle in Widdicombe’s family history, as he also learns his 13 times great grandmother Lettice ended up secretly marrying a man named Robert Dudley, who had previously been wooing Queen Elizabeth I.
When Elizabeth got wind of this, she reportedly “boxed” Lettice round the ear.
“Proper EastEnders that,” Widdicombe jokes. “I mean it’s not a surprise that the Queen is angry.”
Widdicombe later discovers he’s also a descendent of French royalty.
Emerson reveals that King Edward I was Josh’s 23rd great grandfather and was married to Marguerite of France – the daughter of King Phillipe III of France, his 24 times great grandfather.
“Marguerite was the daughter of King Phillipe III of France – your 24 times great grandfather. So you’re not only directly descended from English royalty, but you have a direct blood line to French royalty as well,” Emerson explains.
It’s a great result for Widdicombe, as he concludes, “So even if the Henry VIII thing isn’t true I’m still descendent of Henry I!”.
Josh Widdicombe’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? is available to watch on BBC iPlayer, and the series continues next Tuesday at 9pm. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide or visit our Entertainment hub for the latest news.