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10 Historical Figures You Didn’t Know Were Related

Hint: George Washington wasn't the only world-famous leader in his family.

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George Washington and Robert E. LeePhoto: Shutterstock

George Washington and Robert E. Lee

George Washington helped the United States come together during the American Revolution, but his descendants tried to tear it apart again. The daughter of the first president’s adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis, married Confederate commander Robert E. Lee.

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George Washington and Napoleon BonapartePhoto: Shutterstock

George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte

And if you needed any more proof than that, leadership really does run in the Washington family. The president’s great-grandniece married Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew Achille Murat, who lived in Florida and fought in the Second Seminole War.

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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince PhilipPhoto: Shutterstock

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

Of course, this royal couple has been married for more than 70 years, but they had family ties long before tying the knot. Queen Victoria is the great-great-grandmother of both of them, making them third cousins.

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Barack Obama and George W. BushPhoto: Shutterstock

Barack Obama and George W. Bush

Talk about bringing two sides together. Researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society did a bit of digging in 2008 and found that Obama and Bush are very distant cousins—10th cousins, once removed, to be exact—thanks to a common ancestor from Cape Cod who died in 1662.

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Kaiser Wilhelm, King George and Czar NicholasPhoto: Shutterstock

Kaiser Wilhelm II, King George V, and Tsar Nicholas II

No conflict would be complete without a bit of family drama, and World War I was no exception. King George V and Tsar Nicholas II were first cousins through Danish royalty, but at least they were both Allied leaders. German emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II was also King George V’s first cousin (both could call Queen Victoria “grandma”), as well as Tsar Nicholas II’s third cousin. And you thought your family get-togethers were uncomfortable.

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Helena Bonham Carter and H.H. AsquithPhoto: Shutterstock

Helena Bonham Carter and H.H. Asquith

That’s not the end of the World War I connections. Herbert Henry Asquinth was prime minister of the United Kingdom at the beginning of the war, and 100 years later, his ancestors are still making names for themselves: Actress Helena Bonham Carter is his great-granddaughter.

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Sophia Loren and Benito MussoliniPhoto: Shutterstock

Sophia Loren and Benito Mussolini

There’s no blood relation here, but the actress and the Italian prime minister are connected through marriage. Sophia Loren’s sister, Maria Scicolone, was once married to Benito Mussolini’s son Romano Mussolini.

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Sarah Palin and Princess DianaPhoto: Shutterstock

Princess Diana and Sarah Palin

No shock here: An English colonist connects the “people’s princess” to one of the few female U.S. vice presidential candidates. The two are said to be 10th cousins, connected by John Strong, a colonist who came to the United States in 1635.

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Abraham Lincoln and Tom HanksPhoto: Shutterstock

Abraham Lincoln and Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks might have shaken hands with a few presidents as Forrest Gump, but not the one to whom he’s related. Ever since he was a kid, the actor’s family shared stories about how Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks, is a distant relative. We can only imagine how cool it must have been for him to talk about his third cousin, four times removed when narrating Killing Lincoln in 2013.

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Nicolas Cage and Francis Ford CoppolaPhoto: Shutterstock

Nicolas Cage and Francis Ford Coppola

Nicolas Cage might not have the best reputation in the acting biz, but he seems to have been destined for the big screen. He’s the nephew of The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest