London: Much has been made of Kate Middleton's "humble roots" since her marriage to Prince William, but a new research has claimed that she is related to nobility and has a feted prime minister among her family tree.
New research by an Australian history teacher has claimed that she is related to one of Britain's grandest families and can count a prime minister, earls and countesses among her kin.
The news has been welcomed by 30-year-old Kate, who was informed of her aristocratic heritage during the first few weeks of her pregnancy, The Telegraph reported.
Since the Duchess married into the Royal family, much has been made of her "humble" roots, with coal miners, a road sweeper and even a prisoner among her ancestors.
The previously unpublished side of the Duchess' family tree has uncovered her link to William Petty FitzMaurice, the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, who served as prime minister from 1782 to 1783 and is best remembered by historians for negotiating the end of the American War of Independence.
His link to the Duchess was discovered by Michael Reed, a history teacher from Melbourne, Australia, after he asked his class to choose one of three well-known figures, David Beckham, the footballer, 50 Cent, the American rapper, or the Duchess, and to look at their ancestry using an online family tree programme.
While assisting one of his pupils, Reed discovered a link from the Middleton's to Lady Barbara Bullock, nee Lupton, who he identified as the Duchess's second cousin three times removed.
"Everyone has always made it clear Kate's a commoner so when I saw one of her cousins had a title, I was surprised and intrigued," Reed, 47, said:
Further research found that in 1917, Barbara Lupton had married Sir Christopher Bullock, a Cambridge scholar and descendant of William Petty FitzMaurice.
Christopher served as Winston Churchill's principal private secretary in 1919, and later became permanent under-secretary at the British Air Ministry from 1931 to 1936.
Reed sent his findings to the Duchess at St James' Palace, together with a photograph of Barbara Lupton.
On October 19, when it is believed she was in the first few weeks of her pregnancy, the Duchess asked Rebecca Deacon, her assistant private secretary, to write to Reed, thanking him for his discovery.
"Thank you for your letter in connection with your research on The Duchess of Cambridge's background. It was kind of you to take the trouble to write as you did and thank you for bringing this to our attention," she wrote.
"Her Royal Highness would have me send you her best wishes, and thanks for thinking of her in this way," Deacon added.
(Photo: File photograph shows the wind blowing as Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton, attend a Naming Ceremony and Service of Dedication for a new Atlantic 85 Lifeboat, in Trearddur Bay, Anglesey. Reuters)