Royal Special- Haemophilia in the Family

The Queens Birthday holiday is coming up this Monday so I thought it apt to talk a little bit about the Royal family. Notably, the Royal Disease.

Queen Victoria, undisputed monarch of the United Kingdom and omnipotent Empress of India, is probably the most notable monarch to carry the haemophilia gene. Haemophilia is a genetic disease that stops your blood from clotting and wounds from healing. One tiny, bloody scratch can bleed for days or even weeks and can pretty much kill you.

Statue of who I am led to believe is Queen Victoria. Image courtesy of Boldonia

Statue of who I am led to believe is Queen Victoria. Image courtesy of Boldonia

Queen Vicky passed on these genes to her children which in turn passed them on to European Royal families. If you thought that the excitement over Kate Middleton and Prince William was over the top, royal weddings were all the rage back in the day!

But unlike Kate the commoner, these guys liked to keep it all in the family, meaning that Queen Vicky’s haemophilia gene spread rampant through the royal families of Europe, most notably in Germany, Spain and Russia. This pretty much changed the course of history.

The image of a weak royal inflicted with haemophilia was far from ideal. While most of the women with the recessive gene remained symptom-free, this wasn’t the case for many of the men. Haemophilia is carried on the X chromosome. Men have inherit the X chromosome from their mother and Y chromosome from their father.

If the royal prince inherited the haemophilia gene from his mother, there was no chance he would get a haemophilia-free gene from his father. Thus, they were more likely to become inflicted with this royal disease than the princesses. Now, if we don’t like having horses as a member of the royal family (cough! Camilla…cough!), it’s likely that the public didn’t enjoy a haemophilic King.

While there is some contention over the following assertions, there are certainly some people that think that haemophilia was a major factor that played into the downfall of several monarchs around Europe. In 1931, King Alfonso XIII of Spain was overthrown and in 1918, The Tsar of Russia, Tsar Nicolas II, was assassinated. Obviously there is no proof, but it’s thought that their infliction with haemophilia was a sign of weakness, leading to their eventual downfall.

Today though, monarchs aren’t overthrown so easily.

Over to you:

  •  If you were a monarch, what royal things would you do?
  • What would you name your royal baby?
  • Anything else royal you want to say? Something to do with science maybe?

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