September 26, 2022

Don’t the Royals have a right to genetic privacy, too?

The London Times splashed the genetic heritage of Prince Harry and Prince William across their front page recently.

The London Times splashed the genetic heritage of Prince Harry and Prince William across their front page recently. It claimed, based on genetic analysis of two of their distant cousins by a company called Britain’s DNA, that they have Indian ancestors. This was eagerly taken up by the media in Britain and India, as he will be the first monarch with Indian ancestry.

But as Alex Hern, of the New Statesman, asks, shouldn’t the Royals have been consulted before violating their genetic privacy? “Our DNA is the most basic data we have. No-one should have to find out what it contains by looking at the front-page of a newspaper,” Hern pointed out.

“There is a wider issue at stake here, which is that the story reveals information about the genetic make-up of someone who has not consented to any DNA tests. Thanks to the fact that mtDNA is exclusively inherited along the maternal line, the company could test two other people with the same maternal heritage as William and Harry, and then run the story on them instead.”

Michael Cook
Creative commons
genetic privacy
UK