Some months ago I did a little genealogical research and discovered that my children are descended from royalty. I wrote an article about it for the current issue of Brain, Child magazine:
Friedrich III, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and his wife Eleanor of Portugal were, Ancestry.com told me, the thirteenth great grandfather and grandmother of my husband! There were even pictures of them—well, paintings. There was Great Great Grandpa Friedrich getting introduced to Great Great Grandma Eleanor by the pope, as painted by Pinturicchio. There was a portrait of Friedrich looking steely-eyed and a bit jowly, the way my husband sometimes looks while watching his favorite hockey team lose. And here was a portrait of Eleanor peering wistfully at a flower, something about her expression, the lines of her face, reminding me of my son’s when I told him enough with the video games.
Because excellent records are kept by royalty—in a sense their family history is everyone’s history—once you find a connection to a king, it is possible to go back for generations and generations. I surfed for hours, looking at photographs of a golden crown that had once rested on the head of the fifteenth great grandfather of my children. I started planning summer vacations to the palaces their ancestors had once lived in. I began researching language tuition in German and Spanish for the children, never mind the fact that their ancestors lived so long ago they would’ve spoken entirely different versions of those languages. Basically, I stopped just short of writing to request invitations to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.
With their bloodlines becoming clearer, some of my children's quirks began to make sense. The way my six-year-old son still wanted me to dress him in the morning, as if I were his valet. My two-year-old daughter's insistence on wearing a pair of golden slippers at all times and her particularly erect posture and imperious manner. ("Play cars, Mama!" she commands with a little wave of her hand and a slight, dignified inclination of her head. "Sit here!" she orders, pointing to a particular spot on the floor, her stern expression demonstrating that she will not tolerate dissent. "Dis one, Mama!" she says, handing me her preference when I pick up the wrong one. And then, "Vivi's turn first!")
This intriguing discovery was, for lack of a better word, brief. You'll have to get your hands on a copy of the magazine to find out the rest.