Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their nine children
Edward VII, Former King of the UK, Victoria Princess Royal, Princess Alice of the UK, Prince Leopald, Duke of Albany, Princess Beatrice of UK, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, Princess Helena of the UK, Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince Arthur, Duke of Donnaught and Strathearn
Victoria’s Secrets - Haemophilia and Porphyria ‘The Royal Diseases’
For centuries, people have been fascinated by the royal family. But what if the bluebloods from our history were full of secret diseases, contradictions, scandals, bastard children, conspiracy theories and even unsuspecting pawns responsible for wars? What if there was more to it than just the fact that Queen Victoria was born with a spontaneous mutation in her genome which infected so many royal family members with the debilitating disease known as haemophilia? What if history as we know it wasn’t exactly fact, instead a fabrication of the truth to keep bloodlines clean, even when they weren’t? What would the world think then?
Before these questions can be looked at in intricate detail, it is important to understand what haemophilia is, and how this debilitating disease affected the royal family over the past two hundred years.
The X and Y chromosomes. Graphic: Guardian Graphic
Haemophilia is a recessive gene disorder linked to the X chromosome. A person’s blood with haemophilia lacks the ability to coagulate because one or more of the plasma proteins which are vital for clotting are missing from their gene pool.
Queen Victoria (1819-1901)
pictured around the time she was pursued (Bridgeman Art Library/Getty)
Queen Victoria was born on May 24th 1819, and with her, the tainted bloodline began. Victoria was; what is known today, as a carrier of the haemophilia recessive gene which led to several of her male descendants suffering from the disease, and female descendants carrying the gene that would continue to infect royal family members for generations to come.
X Linked recessive inheritance of haemophilia from the female
What is certain, is that repercussions of this disease within the royal family had such an effect on European history, it is almost assured the disease was used as a scapegoat to overthrow the Romanov Dynasty and cause the Russian revolution, as well as push the Spanish monarchy off the throne, causing the Spanish civil war. Because of Queen Victoria’s recessive gene, she was responsible for passing the mutation down through her descendants and infecting European royal houses throughout England, Spain, Germany and Russia.
What isn’t certain, is how Queen Victoria became a recessive gene carrier of the disease in the first place; since there were no other cases ever recorded in her family prior to her birth. This fact, brings up unanswered questions about her true lineage and whether she could have been a bastard child fathered by a haemophiliac, rather than Edward, The Duke of Kent who was not a haemophiliac; nor was her mother, Victoria, Princess of Saxe-Coburg a carrier.
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767-1820)
Duke of Kent and Strathearn
by Sir William Beechey, 1818 (originally the property of Thérèse-Bernardine Montgenet)
Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and The Duchess of Kent (1786-1861)
with her daughter, the future Queen Victoria
If we take a scientific perspective on the disease, it is clear that it’s passed on by both males and females. However, the disease exhibits mostly in men as it is located within the X chromosome. This is due to the fact that men inherit only one X chromosome, while women inherit two. So if a male’s X chromosome is infected, he will suffer from the disease, while the female having two X chromosomes, usually ends up the carrier of the gene; with only one of the chromosomes being infected. It is possible for a female to be born with both X chromosomes effected. However, the chance is so low, studies have shown that men are the most likely sufferers.
Chart showing heamophilila inheritance from either male of female
Not only was Queen Victoria born a carrier, she was born a carrier of haemophilia type B, or factor IX deficiency; a very strong form of haemophilia which was passed onto three of her nine children.
Queen Victoria's haemophiliac male descendents all suffered hameophilia type B - severe
Princess Alice and Princess Beatrice were both carriers of the gene, and Prince Leopold, who died at age of 30 after suffering a hemorrhage; following an epileptic fit which caused him to fall down a set of stairs and bleed to death, was a haemophiliac. All three of these descendants continued to spread the diseased bloodline.
Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, Princess Louis of Hesse and Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine (1843-1878)
Carrier of the gene which she passed down to her daughters, Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, also known as Tsarina Alexandra Romanov, Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine and Prince Friedrich of Hesse and by Rhine, who died at age 3 from haemophilia.
Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom and Princess Henry of Battenberg (1857-1944)
Carrier of the gene which she passed down to her daughter Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg also Queen of Spain and her two haemophiliac sons, Lord Leopold Moutbatten and Prince Maurice of Battenberg.
Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany (1853-1884)
Haemophiliac who passed the gene down to his daughter Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, also known as Princess Alice of Albany
This was not established until the remains of the Romanov family were finally discovered in 1979, taking a further 12 years after the discovery; due to political issues in Russia at the time, before DNA samples from the bones confirmed; not only did they find the remains of the Romanovs, but Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Alexandra, and two of her great grand-children, Anastasia and Alexei were also carriers; with Alexei suffering from the disease.
The Romanov Family
Nicholas II of Russia, Alexandra Feodorovna (Alix of Hesse), Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna, Grand Duchess maria Nikolaevna, Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna and Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich
This is where Rasputin comes into the equation as Alexei’s healer; which in turn led to the Russian Revolution and the assassination of the Romanov Family on Wednesday, 17 July 1918.
Grigori Rasputin (1869-1916)
Healer of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich
Rasputin's political influence on the Romanov family had detrimental repercussions. Following Rasputin's murder in 1916, the Romanov family were forced into exile and executed by firing squad on Wednesday, 17th July, 1918. Some believe that if Alexei didn't inherit haemophilia, the family wouldn't have needed Rasputin and wouldn't have been such a threat to Russia due to his influence on political decisions.
If we look at the chart below, we can see exactly how the haemophilia was passed down from Queen Victoria to her descendants.
Chart of haemophilia sufferers and carriers of Queen Victoria's descendants
So here lies the unanswered question. How did Queen Victoria become a haemophilia recessive gene carrier? Are we happy to accept, she was just unlucky at birth due to spontaneous mutation; with the odds sitting at approximately 1 in 50,000, or could it be possible, she was fathered by someone else other than the Duke of Kent? And if so, who? One name of extreme interest seems to continuously pop up among research, and should not be overlooked for many reasons. Nathan Mayer Rothschild. So who was he and why does he come into the equation as a possibility of fathering Queen Victoria?
Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836)
Jewish German Banker, Businessman and Financier
Nathan Mayer Rothschild was born in Frankfurt, Germany on the 16th September 1777 and was the founder of a family firm in textile merchandising in Manchester in England, which would later transcend into banking with the Rothschild’s becoming one of the most powerful and influential families in British society; with descendants still holding financial power today.
What makes this even more interesting, is that he was Jewish and his family gained immense power within the House of the Lords; even though Jews were not permitted to be a part of the court system. Rothschild gained incredible support from Queen Victoria herself, who honoured him with becoming the first Jewish British Lord permitted into The Lords, and later permitting his son Lionel Rothschild to become the first Jewish member of Parliament.
The Right Honourable Lionel De Rothschild (1808-1879)
First Jewish member of Parliament and Nathan Mayer Rothschild's son
An interesting theory to consider if we take into account, Rothschild as being Queen Victoria’s biological father, and that she was handing this power to him, as well as her half-brother; figuratively speaking. So what proof do we have of this theory besides the fact that Queen Victoria showed favoritism to the Rothschild family? Could Rothschild have been a haemophiliac?
Unfortunately, there is no physical medical evidence, nor is there any evidence that Victoria’s mother was associated with him, other than the fact that they ran in the same circles of high society due to the Rothschild family’s financial power at the time. But four interesting facts remain which continue to keep this theory a possibility. The fact that Queen Victoria somehow inherited the recessive haemophilia gene, the fact that haemophilia is reported to have started as a predominantly Jewish disease as early as the 2nd Century, and the fact that a Rothschild legal practice not only still funds the Society of Haemophilia in the USA today, but a family member, Chantal Rothschild is a leading expert and frequent author in France on haemophilia.
Dr. Chantal Rothschild
Director of World Federation of Hemophilia
Yet another interesting concept to contemplate, but since many of us are investigative scientists, we must keep an open mind to theories. So if we dig deeper into possibilities, we cannot overlook that there was one man in particular who was extremely close to Victoria’s mother throughout her life and could have easily been her biological father. Sir John Conroy, who was The Duchess of Kent’s advisor for 19 years and kept a strict control over Queen Victoria’s upbringing, through what was known as the ‘Kensington System.’
Sir John Conroy (1786-1854)
1st Baronet in an 1837 painting by Henry William Pickersgill
But was he a haemophiliac or possibly a carrier of the gene? Once again, there is no medical evidence, but it is another theory which shouldn’t be completely ruled out.
What other possibilities could we take into account? What if by chance, the carrier wasn’t Queen Victoria; instead her German cousin and husband Prince Albert? It is a known fact he was most likely illegitimate, as his mother, Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg had an affair with Baron Von Mayern; a Jewish court chamberlain, who was later dismissed from the court of Saxe-Gotha for the affair, and the princess exiled from her two sons.
Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1800-1831)
Painting by William Corden, 1844 known as William Corden the Elder (1795-1867)
Ernest I, Duke of Sax-Coburg and Gotha (1784-1844)
Portrait by George Dawe
How do we know that Ernest, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha wasn’t Albert’s legitimate father? We can’t be certain but since Ernest had syphilis, and Prince Albert did not contract it from his mother at birth, there is a high possibility that Ernest wasn’t his biological father, therefore Prince Albert could have been fathered by someone else; possibly Baron Von Mayern.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease, but can also be passed down from a mother’s placenta to her unborn child during pregnancy, which is known as hereditary syphilis or congenital syphilis. It is caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum and a fetus can be either infected during pregnancy or at birth.
Congenital Syphilis in a newborn
Since Albert’s father Ernest was extremely promiscuous with his affairs and had the syphilis disease, the probability that Albert and his older brother Ernest II were illegitimate, is very high. Albert’s mother, Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg would not have wanted her children nor herself, infected with the disease, so taking a healthy lover to provide heirs for the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Dukedom is a possibility, therefore a lover could have been a haemophiliac.
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Prince Consort to Queen Victoria (1819-1861) with his brother Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1818-1893)
Yet, once again, we have questions. If haemophilia came from Prince Albert’s side, why did Prince Albert not show symptoms of the disease? Although very rare, it is possible for a male with haemophilia to show low or no symptoms; or he may have just been lucky throughout his life.
This theory looks promising; although one factor sets it back. For Prince Albert to have been the carrier and not Queen Victoria, only their female children could have inherited the gene and become carriers. Due to the fact the haemophilia gene comes from the X chromosome and not the Y chromosome, as previously discussed, a male can only pass down the disease to his female offspring through his X chromosome, which produces females and not the Y chromosome which produces males.
Diagram proving that Prince Albert was not the carrier nor had haemophilia
So now we can completely rule the theory out that although Prince Albert was most likely a bastard son, he was not the carrier; since Albert and Victoria’s 8th son, Prince Leopold had the disease.
Here we find ourselves in a conundrum once again, leaving us looking for answers. How can we prove Victoria was the legitimate heir of The Duke of Kent, and, how can we prove, she was just one of the unlucky children at birth to inherit the haemophilia gene through an accidental mutation at conception? We must delve deeper into history and continue to search way beyond.
Although we cannot trace haemophilia back before Queen Victoria’s birth, we can take a more intricate look at other diseases within the royal family. And the disease known as porphyria needs to be examined in detail.
Porphyria has, in recent years, been found in the royal family and traced as far back as Mary Queen of Scots and her father, James V of Scotland, who suffered the symptoms associated with the disease.
Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587)
Sufferer of the Porphyria disease
Portrait of Mary after François Clouet, c. 1559
James V of Scotland (1512-1542)
Mary Queen of Scot's father and also a porphyria sufferer
Portrait of James V, c. 1536, by Corneille de Lyon.
Why is this important? Because it is believed King George the III (known as the mad King) and also Queen Victoria’s grandfather; if the Duke of Kent was her legitimate father, inherited the disease from Mary Queen of Scots, who was his great grandmother five times removed, as the disease has been known to skip many generations, resurfacing at odd times within a family tree.
George III of the United Kingdom (1738-1820)
Known as the mad King when in fact he suffered from Porphyria
Pastel portrait of George as Prince of Wales by Jean-Étienne Liotard, 1754
So what is porphyria and what are its symptoms? There are two types of porphyria. Acute; effects the nervous system with symptoms such as abdominal pain, swelling, chest, leg or back pain, insomnia, vomiting, anxiety, restlessness, seizures, breathing problems, mental changes, disorientation and most importantly, the tell-tale sign of red or brown urine during an attack. The other form is known as cutaneous; effecting mostly the skin.
Medical archives, which exist from historical physicians who treated some of the royal family members, report the same symptoms over and over with royals including James V of Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots, Mary’s son James I and VI, Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, King George III, and King George IV’s cousin Caroline of Brunswick.
Haemophilia and Porphyria - Royal diseases from Tainted Blood - Documentary
So how could this information prove that Queen Victoria was most likely legitimate? Because she not only passed the haemophilia recessive gene down, she also passed the porphyria disease through her blood to some of her descendants, with herself being very likely to have inherited it from her grandfather, King George III; if she in fact was legitimate.
It is because of her eldest daughter, Princess Charlotte of Prussia, and thanks to Professor John Rohl; who made it his life’s work to prove this fact, it has been confirmed, porphyria was a royal disease.
Princess Charlotte of Prussia (Viktoria Elisabeth Auguste Charlotte), Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen (1860-1919)
Princess Charlotte had Porphyria
Princess Charlotte’s remains were excavated in 1997 and scientifically tested for the porphyria gene by scraping some of her bone marrow from her femur to test. The disease was detected in her bones and it has been confirmed, Princess Charlotte did indeed suffer from the porphyria disease. Therefore, as Professor Rohl’s put it in his own words following the testing, “She had the disease, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and the chances of her having it independently from George III are almost impossible.”
Professor John Charles Gerald Röhl
With all these facts, fictitious theories and possible scenarios which exist within our history as we know it; what questions can we truly answer with them? We know for certain that Queen Victoria did pass on the haemophilia recessive gene to her descendants. We also know for certain, porphyria was another genetic royal family disease. We know Prince Albert was possibly a bastard child; due to the hereditary syphilis disease on his side of the family which he did not inherit, but can we be certain that Baron Von Mayern was his biological father, or could it have been another man the Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg had an affair with? Or, is it still possible that Prince Albert was legitimate and his mother was just lucky to have not picked up the syphilis disease from her husband Ernest? The most important question of all, can we rule out that Queen Victoria wasn’t illegitimate and that the gene was, in fact, an accidental mutation, instead of an inherited gene from an unknown haemophiliac father?
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
Victoria's secrets remain with her long past her death.
The truth is, how can these questions be answered when the royal family is so inbred among themselves due to their desperation to keep their aristocratic blood pure and away from the so called commoner, that half of them could be illegitimate at every corner and no one would ever discover it. Even if bones of the deceased are excavated and tested, majority of them are interrelated, so the secrets they hold, may never truly be told.