Does Kate Middleton Have Jewish Heritage?

menorah The internet is an excellent place for rumors, misunderstood facts, and flat out lies to spread exponentially. There have been some people questioning whether or not Kate Middleton had Jewish heritage. How much can you really determine from the surnames of a person’s ancestors?

Kate Middleton is the woman whom Prince William married in a huge wedding ceremony earlier this year. She was a commoner, and her family didn’t have a coat of arms until shortly before the Royal Wedding was scheduled.

After Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, the couple was given several new titles. She became Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge. She also can now be referred to as the Countess of Strathearn and the Baroness of Carrickfergus.

There has been some speculation on the internet about whether or not Kate Middleton happens to have Jewish heritage. I have no idea where this got started.

I’m certain that one of the reasons why it continued to be talked about is because Kate Middleton is a public figure, in the way that famous celebrities and musicians are. People enjoy wondering about the lives and backgrounds of famous people. If they didn’t then the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?” would not be nearly as popular as it has become.

Technically speaking, in terms of the rules regarding Royal Marriages, it doesn’t matter. Kate Middleton could be Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu, or Buddhist, or any of several different Christian faiths, and she would still be allowed to marry Prince William.

As long as she isn’t Catholic, then everything is kosher. According to the 1701 Act of Settlement, any Royal person who decided to marry a person who is Catholic will be removed from the line of succession. They also get pulled from the list if they decide one day to convert to Catholicism.

It seems like the reason why people wonder if Kate Middleton has Jewish heritage has to do with some of the surnames in her family tree. There are some surnames that almost always indicate that a person is of a certain heritage. If, for example, you discover that one of your ancestors had the last name of O’Sullivan, or O’Connor, or Murphy, chances are great that you have some Irish heritage. Not all surnames are as easy to connect to a specific heritage, however.

Kate Middleton’s mother is named Carole, and her maiden name was Goldsmith, which may sound like a Jewish surname. According to Jewish tradition any child that is born to a Jewish mother is Jewish. The truth of the matter is that the last five generations of the Goldsmith family were married in churches, not synagogues. Kate herself, as most people will recall, was also married in a church. Clearly, her family is not Jewish, and neither is she.

I find this rather amusing because I’ve had people presume that my family was Jewish, based entirely on our surname. My maiden name is Dahlberg, which, apparently sounded Jewish to a lot of people. The Dahlberg surname got handed down from ancestors who were Swedish, and most of my family is Catholic. Alas, this means I shall never be queen.

Image by skpy on Flickr