19 April 2018
Son of the Prophet!
The House of al-Chin.
By Chin Chin
Sometimes, just sometimes, your prayers are answered. There I was last week complaining that there was nothing much of interest in the English newspapers, even that the French had gone one up on us in the dramatic quality of their current affairs, when I opened The Times to read something so important that it put even the prospect of a third world war over Syria into perspective. According to the Moroccan magazine Assahifa Al-Ousbouia, the Queen is a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad.
The theory is by no means new, having been published by Burke’s peerage in 1986. The line of descent goes back through Elizabeth of York to the Spanish royal family (I’m afraid it goes through Pedro the Cruel, but he was a chum of the Black Prince so perhaps he was not as bad as he was painted) and from them back to the Moors who once controlled most of Spain. It’s not particularly surprising as a matter of genealogy, although I suppose it opens the way for some future King to claim the title of “Caliph and Supreme Governor of the Church of England” which could lead to a difficult position if Nigel Farage becomes Prime Minister and decides to revive the Crusades.
Still, it isn’t the Queen’s position which is the exciting bit, but mine. Step one: lurking up in the family tree there is an illegitimate son of a mistress of George III and, descended from that son, a woman whose portrait made her look so like Queen Victoria that it had to be kept hidden in order to avoid scandal. Now that is proof of Royal descent of the highest order. Step two: George III was certainly descended from Elizabeth of York. Conclusion: I must be descended from the prophet Mohammed too. Res ipsa loquitor, as the lawyers are so fond of saying.
Well, this came as rather a surprise but I suppose it shouldn’t have. The five tenets of Islam include a visit to Mecca and only the other day I was glancing through a travel brochure when I was much attracted by a holiday in the Middle East which included a camel ride across the desert. Perhaps Islam is in my blood. I wonder if Thomas Cook do special rates for Descendants of the Prophet. After all, in the 1400 or so years since his conquest of Mecca, his family must have spread about a bit. There must be lots of them now – surely enough to make special journeys to Saudi Arabia a commercial proposition. Perhaps you have to go in uniform (swords and arrows to be checked in please, only empty quivers in the cabin). Maybe it wouldn’t be out of order to put “DP” after my name?
It was when I was down at the Dog and Duck explaining this, and modestly adding that a nod of the head when I came into the bar would be a sufficient acknowledgement of my illustrious ancestor, that someone pointed out that the numbers work both ways. Although 1400 years may have widened the family of Mohammed’s descendants, they have also diluted his blood. If you take a generation as being about thirty years (a generation being the time between the birth of a parent and his or her offspring, not the length of their lives) then there have been over forty-five generations since Mohammed, so the proportion of the Prophet’s blood running through the veins of his descendants will have been halved over forty-five times.
That is obvious when you think about it. You have twice as many grandparents as you have parents, twice as many great-grandparents as you have grandparents, etc. Go back to the 45th generation of ancestors and there are just over 35 billion of them, which is an achievement when you bear in mind that the population of the world in 1400 was only about 350 million.
The problem of course is in-breeding. On average, each of the 350 million people living in 1400 must be my ancestor down 1000 different routes. As lots of them will not have made it at all, many must have been much over that. In practice, then I must be descended from almost every fertile person who was alive in 1400 and presumably the same can be said of Her Majesty. Well, I have no objection to that, of course. Royalty is Royalty after all. It’s the thought of those swine in the bar sharing my coveted status without a thought of Mecca in their empty heads, that makes me mad. Still, I must remember to ring up and cancel the robes and turban which I ordered.