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Royals Who Suffered From Hereditary Mutations And Defects Caused By Inbreeding

Updated 28 Feb 2020 11.7m views11 items

Long before the concept of "designer babies" created in a lab became the stuff of science fiction, inbreeding in royal families was viewed as a way to ensure genetic purity. Intermarriage ensured that no "common" blood sullied pure, aristocratic bloodlines. What could go wrong?

A lot, actually. Birth defects caused by inbreeding were rampant in royal families from Russia to Portugal and even in ancient Egypt, where the practice of sibling marriage was considered godly behavior. Hereditary diseases caused by inbreeding - such as porphyria, among others - get handed down through thin gene pools, particularly in the many cases where intentional close marriage is used to ensure that royal blood (and its recurrent flaws) are kept in the family. For example, Queen Victoria, a major proponent of pure bloodlines, married her cousin Albert, and the two had nine children who then passed hemophilia to royal families throughout Europe. 

While all these families hoped close intermarriage would keep their royal families stronger, in many cases, illness, madness, and infertility caused by inbreeding ended up tearing them apart.

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