No, Meghan Markle isn’t Jewish. But why are there incessant rumors that she is?

These same “she’s Jewish” rumors plagued Kate Middleton around the time of her royal wedding, and they swirl around Princess Diana as well. If Princess Diana was Jewish, goes the theory, that means the whole royal family is Jewish.

You’re probably thinking, “Oh boy, there’s no way they’re Jewish,” right? And you’re probably right — there’s a slim chance any of these people are Jewish. However, the persistence of the rumors is fascinating.

So, being Alma, we will unpack them for you.

(Side note: For this article, I ended up on a lot of white supremacist sites. It wasn’t pleasant.)

Part 1: The Royal Family

The Rothschilds

The Rothschilds, the wealthy British banking family that happens to be Jewish, sit at the center of numerous anti-Semitic conspiracies. It all goes back to something called the “Rothschild Pamphlet,” published in 1846 and written by “Satan.” (Yes, some dude used the pseudonym “Satan”; his real name was Georges Dairnvaell, guess it didn’t have the same ring to it.) In this pamphlet, Dairnvaell argues that Nathan Rothschild was on the battlefield at Waterloo, realized the French were gonna be defeated, returned to Britain, and made 20 million francs on the stock exchange. It’s all been proven false, but the idea that the Rothschilds profit off of war has persisted.

The 1846 Rothschild pamphlet written by Satan

The conspiracy theories have morphed since the defeat of Napoleon to the idea that they control all of the world’s wealth and the global economy. Take Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam leader, who said in 1995 that “the Rothschilds financed both sides of all European wars.” Oy vey.

But let’s bring it back to the British Royals, shall we?

Googling “Rothschild connection to royal family” brings up 84,800 results. The first site to pop up — a white supremacist site, no doubt — argues, “What we have been sold is no less than the groundwork for the imposition of a future Jewish Monarchy in Great Britain. And engineered by the House of Rothschild, whose relations and puppets on Wall Street and in the City of London are responsible for a deliberatly [sic] created international financial crisis aimed at creating a one world currency system, a one world bank and a New World Order, one world government.”

(Note, the “New World Order” is a whole other conspiracy theory; as Wikipedia explains, the idea “is that a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government — which will replace sovereign nation-states — and an all-encompassing propaganda whose ideology hails the establishment of the New World Order as the culmination of history’s progress.”)

Additionally, many people think that the Bank of England is owned by the Rothschilds or that the Rothschild family owns most of the world’s wealth. (Again, super false. Like, clearly wrong.) The Rothschilds are alleged to be behind the Illuminati, the New World Order, and, of course, the British Royal Family. This is bananas, obviously, but so many people believe it.

Rothschilds
“The English Octopus” (1894 political cartoon purporting to depict the Rothschild’s global control)

Circumcision

Switching away from the Rothschilds for a second (don’t worry, they’ll be back), one of the backbones of the “Royals are secretly Jewish” theories is the fact that the sons are circumcised by mohels.

An article in the Telegraph explained, “It is one of the oddities of the Royal family — shared by the majority of the English upper classes — that for many generations they have circumcised their male sons, invariably using a Mohel, the Jewish word for a circumcision practitioner. It was rarely done on medical grounds, nor on religious ones, but was a matter of class.” They went on to say, “it is understood that Diana, Princess of Wales, refused to continue the tradition.” So we don’t know if Harry and William are circumcised. (I can’t believe I just had to type that sentence.) When nude photos of Harry leaked in 2012, Tablet published a fantastic article called “The Crown Jew” that dived into the question of whether or not he was circumcised.

The British Royal Family started circumcising their sons with George I or Queen Victoria (we’ll cover her later), and it was continued by Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth’s sons — Charles, Andrew, and Edward — were all circumcised by none other than Rabbi Jacob Snowman, a prominent mohel of London’s Jewish community.

A major part of the alt-right (are they called that in Britain? IDK!) conspiracies re: the Royals being Jews seems to circle back to this: They were all circumcised by mohels, which enters them into the Jewish faith. Obviously, that’s not how it works — being circumcised doesn’t make you Jewish — but circumcision does enter male Jews into a covenant with God.

Queen Victoria

There are rumors (there are always rumors, if you haven’t learned by now) that Queen Victoria believed she was descended from King David. Like yes, the dude from the Bible (and Leonard Cohen’s most famous song). This is supposedly why she had her sons circumcised.

Victoria

This theory is outlined in an 1880 pamphlet written by the Reverend Frederick Robert Augustus Glover called, “England, the remnant of Judah, and the Israel of Ephraim.” We’ll spare you (most) of the details (because we simply could not get through reading it), but the preface starts, “I have been asked for proof of the Descent of the Queen of England from the Kings of Judah…”

Pamphlet

His argument rests on the “Stone of Scone,” which is a coronation stone, and no, I have no idea what that means or what is has to do with delicious scones. Glover believes that this is the “pillow stone” used by Jacob in the Bible (you know, when Jacob uses a stone as a pillow in Genesis) and that only true descendants can use it at as a throne(?). Honestly, still confused but that stone is key.

Wikipedia explains best: Some adherents of British Israelism (the belief that British people are really the direct descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel; it’s been consistently debunked, we just don’t have the time) believe “that the British Royal Family is directly descended from the line of King David. Citing the Book of Jeremiah, they claim that the daughters of Zedekiah fled to Egypt, then ‘the isles’ in the sea, which they interpret as Ireland. The descendants of these princesses are said to have crossed to England where they became ancestors of the monarchs. The Stone of Scone, used in coronations of Scottish, English and British monarchs for centuries, is claimed to be none other than the pillow stone used by biblical patriarch, Jacob.”

Queen Victoria also knighted the first Jew, Moses Haim Montefiore, in 1837. Which is just a really fun fact.

Overwhelmed?

Same. But don’t worry, it’s not just the Royals that are rumored to be Jewish, but the women who have recently married into the British Royal Family…

Part 2: The Women Who Married In

Princess Diana

Diana’s mother, Frances Shand Kydd, was not Jewish. However, there’s a rumor that her father, John Spencer, was not her actual father. Rather, the theories go, her true father was James Goldsmith, a Jewish banker, the man that Frances may have been having an affair with.

Princess Diana
Jemima and Diana

Additionally, Jemima Goldsmith (yes, James’ daughter), was one of Diana’s close friends. But there were rumors that they were actually (half) sisters.

Oy vey.

Seems all like speculation, no? But there’s enough there — as one white supremacist website writes (we’re not citing them because we don’t need to direct traffic there), “Diana shares a striking physical resemblance to the children of Sir James Goldsmith – Zak Goldsmith, Ben Goldsmith, and Jemima Goldsmith. They are allegedly Diana’s half brothers and sister. Following the Rothschild protocol of interbreeding to keep the power and wealth all-in-the-family, Diana’s alleged half brother Ben Goldsmith wed Kate Rothschild in 2003.”

Rothschild conspiracy? Check. Diana-as-a-secret-Jew? Check.

Kate Middleton

Kate

Shortly after Prince William and Kate announced their engagement, the internet was set ablaze by rumors that Kate was Jewish. See, her mom’s maiden name is Goldsmith. Which is maaaaaaybe Jewish?

An unnamed Orthodox Sephardic rabbi in Israel wrote an e-mail to The Jewish Standard, which we’ll print here:

Kate’s mother is Carol Middleton, daughter of Ronald Goldsmith and Dorothy Harrison (both Jews)

The parents of Dorothy Harrison are Robert Harrison and Elizabeth Temple (both Jews), the latter a descendant of the Myers family (traditional English Jews in the 19th century)

Bottom line: Princess Kate is a Jew on her matrilineal side, and as a consequence, the future king of England will be a Jew according to Jewish Law and tradition.

Sounds very convincing, no? Only problem is there’s no evidence that Carol’s parents are Jewish, or her maternal grandparents… they were all married in churches, something Jews tend not to do. There’s no evidence of synagogue marriage or Jewish burials, two things that would for sure signify Jews.

The one inkling that may be true (MAY BE): Elizabeth Myers, Elizabeth Temple’s Mom — so Kate’s great-great-grandmother — is a Myers. According to HouseofNames.com, a site that exists, Myers is a “Jewish Ashkenazic name that was originally derived from the Yiddish male given name Meyer.” Yet this was debunked by The Times of Israel, who wrote, “Like everyone else, he relied entirely on the fact that the names in Kate’s family tree – Goldsmith, Harrison, Myers, and Temple – sound Jewish, and surmises that they were originally members of the tribe.” That’s just not going to cut it.

Meghan Markle

After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (the biracial American divorcée) were confirmed to be dating, the Internet was CONVINCED Meghan was Jewish. The Express, a British tabloid, quoted a spokesman from Westminster Abbey who “confirmed that Meghan’s Jewish background would not prevent her from having an interfaith marriage there.”

However, JTA reached out to Westminster Abbey, who said that the church never said Markle was Jewish.

So where did the rumor start?

Possibility one: Meghan’s previous marriage was to Trevor Engelson, a Jew, and they had a Jewish wedding in Jamaica. Jewish wedding + Jewish husband = Meghan must be a Jew, right? Wrong.

Meghan Markle
Meghan Marke and her ex-husband Trevor Engelson at an ADL event

Possibility two: Meghan’s Dad is Jewish. (Not true.) This is what was picked up by many reputable sources. He’s Irish American, not Jewish American.

Anyways, Meghan was baptized into the Church of England before the wedding. But we’ll always have our favorite photo of all time…

Part 3: Conclusions

Anti-Semitism in the Royal Family

Oof, okay. While it’s all fun and games to dive into the conspiracies (at least, funny how ridiculous it all is), we have to remember that the British Royal Family hasn’t been the best for the Jews.

In 1290, the Jews were expelled from England under King Edward I. Some Jews remained and practiced Judaism secretly. Resettlement began in 1655 (when Oliver Cromwell was in charge of England, #tbt that time he quickly overthrew the Royals).

Flash forward a bunch of years… the Catholics were given the right to vote in 1829, and by 1890, Jewish emancipation was complete.

Meeting Hitler
The Duke of Windsor and his wife Wallis Simpson meeting Adolf Hitler (October 23, 1937).

Edward VIII, who eventually abdicated the throne because of Wallis Simpson, met Hitler in October 1937. They gave him full Nazi salutes, and Hitler considered Edward “friendly towards Germany and thought that Anglo-German relations could have been improved through Edward if it were not for the abdication.” After World War II, Edward denied being pro-Nazi, but apparently said to a friend, “I never thought Hitler was such a bad chap.” Yikes!!

Queen Elizabeth II apparently gave the Nazi salute in 1933 as a 7-year-old. After this was revealed, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said, “It’s really important for us not to judge this event with hindsight. Obviously the Nazi salute now carries horrible memories and bitterness for us, but I do not think for one moment that it would be appropriate for me to suggest that the full horror of Nazi Germany was known at that point.” The Jews of England generally like Queen Elizabeth. As Simon Sebag Montefiore says, “Members of the royal family routinely attend many, many Jewish events and support Jewish causes and charities. Something regarded as totally normal here. And rightly so.”

And last, we must not forget, Prince Harry dressed as a Nazi to a costume party way back in 2005. Not anti-Semitic, just pretty dumb.

Moral of the story?

The Royal family is definitely not Jewish. This was fun. Bye!

Emily Burack

Emily Burack is an editorial assistant at Alma.