Historical intermarriages across European royalty led to a web of distantly related rulers. Today, this legacy presents itself in monarchs being related to one another. Queen Elizabeth II and her relatives are a prime example. But let's take a look at Her Majesty's closest relation to a present ruler — and the family history behind it.
Queen Elizabeth and Harald V, King of Norway: Related?
Currently, the Queen's closest relation to a monarch is to Harald V, King of Norway. The two rulers are second cousins. Their closest shared ancestor was King Edward VII, the great-grandfather to both the British and Norwegian monarchs. They are both also great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria (Edward VII's mother).
A second cousinship comes from a relation to a child of one's parent's cousin. In other words, your second cousin is your grandparent's sibling's grandchild. For the Queen, it's her grandfather King George V (son of Edward VII) and his sibling Maud, grandmother of King Harald. George ruled as King of the UK while his sister Princess Maud married Haakon VII and became Queen of Norway.
If you're still following, George's son (King George VI) fathered Elizabeth in 1926 and Maud's son (King Olav V) fathered Harald in 1937. That makes them second cousins. (Recap: Edward VII and Queen Alexandra had six children—two of whom were George and Maud, who each had a son who fathered Elizabeth and Harald.)
Queen Elizabeth II and King Harald V of Norway in 2020
Though Harald V is only around a decade younger than his second cousin, he ascended the Norwegian throne long after Queen Elizabeth did in the UK. His reign began on Jan. 17, 1991, while the Queen's did on Feb. 6, 1952. As monarch, she visited family in Norway in 1955 as well as in 1981 and 2002. Harald V is married to Queen Sonja.
Harald V isn't the only monarch related to the Queen, either. She has more distant ties to Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Felipe of Spain, and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. Not only that, but her interlinked family background extends to Prince Philip, her husband, formerly a royal of Greece and Denmark. Click here to learn how the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are related.