To the hopeless romantics among us, Kate Middleton’s fairytale marriage to Prince William sounds as though it belongs between the pages of a novel – a Jane Austen novel, to be exact.
Ancestry.com took a look into the new Duchess of Cambridge’s (now known as “Catherine”) family history a few years ago, and found that she, and the world-renowned author Jane Austen, are in fact related. Their common ancestor is a man named Henry Percy, who was the 2nd Earl of Northumberland during the first half of the 15th century. Percy is Austen’s 10th great-grandfather, and Middleton’s 16th great-grandfather, making the two famous women 11th cousins, six times removed.
Anastasia Harman, Lead Family Historian for Ancestry.com, told TIME that the link between Middleton and Austen is more than just familial. "Finding this connection between the Duchess of Cambridge and Jane Austen is very exciting since, in many ways, Catherine is the modern Jane Austen heroine: a middle class girl marrying the future King of England,” she said. Middleton’s marriage to Prince William bears similarities to Austen’s work in other ways too, Harman notes, as the author’s novels are “known for their biting social commentary and romance between the classes and her heroines for their spirit, intelligence and wit.”
Harman and Ancestry.com also draw a connection between Middleton and Austen through their close relationships with their sisters. For Austen, this refers to Cassandra, the older sister she called her “best friend and strongest supporter.” When 10-year-old Cassandra was sent to boarding school, Jane, only 8 at the time, refused to be separated and demanded that she be sent as well. For Kate, the beloved sister is Pippa, the maid of honor at her wedding. Like Austen before her, Middleton attended the same boarding school as her sister, and Pippa later followed in her sister’s footsteps by moving to Scotland for college.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife," Jane Austen famously wrote in the opening of Pride and Prejudice. Harman sees far more in the partnership between William and Kate, and wishes for nothing but the most novel-worthy romance for the newlyweds: “Jane Austen may have written about happily-ever-after,” she says, “but it seems Catherine has found a nonfiction hero to spend her life with – far past the epilogue.”
For more information on the genealogy service which looked into Kate Middleton’s history you can check out our review of Ancestry.com.