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A new report by Bayes Business School and the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC) compares the Windsors with both the general population and the Kennedys in America – often dubbed America’s “royal family”. Just two months ahead of the celebrations to mark the Queen’s 70th year on the throne, the tale of two dynasties report considers the impact the dynasty of the Royal Family has had on its, and other generations’, longevity.
Prince William and children Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince Louis
The research, carried out in partnership with the International Longevity Centre (ILC) finds that the Royal Family outlive the general population by 26 percent – meaning for every 100-year-old royal, the average person could expect to live to an age of 74 years.
Nevertheless, the gap has been closing in line with general improvements to life expectancy, which now stands at just over 81 years in the UK.
The Queen, 95, is the third Windsor to exceed the age of 95 – Prince Philip died last year at the age of 99, while the Queen Mother lived to the age of 101.
Queen Elizabeth is 95 while Prince Philip lived to the age of 99
Queen Elizabeth and John F Kennedy at Buckingham Palace
Both the Queen’s maternal grandparents died in their late 80s, although her father, George V, died in 1952 at the age of 56.
Just 0.15 percent of the UK population are older than the Queen (approximately 100,000 people) and for roughly 85 percent of the UK population she is the only Head of State they have ever known.
About six million people alive today should have memories of the coronation in 1953, whether as direct spectators or having seen it broadcast live on television or in cinemas.
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Report author Professor Les Mayhew said the period of world history the Queen has lived through, as well as influenced, is unlikely to be repeated by future monarchs.
While the Royal Family live longer than the general public, used as the research’s benchmark, the opposite can be said of the Kennedys.
It finds that they have had a lower-than-average lifespan in comparison to the general public – despite the comparable longevity of the clan matriarch, Rose Kennedy, who died aged 104.
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Prince William and wife Kate – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
The Queen Mother lived to the age of 101
Prof Mayhew puts this down to factors including the impact of the so-called ‘Kennedy Curse’.
This refers to a series of unrelated deaths and tragedies over a 75-year period including the assassinations of former US President John F Kennedy, in 1963, and of his brother Bobby in 1968.
Others have died in plane crashes, drug overdoses. Last year, Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, and her eight-year-old son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, died in a canoeing accident in Cheasapeake Bay.
Royal Family tree
Other factors which have shaped each family include the weight of the constitutional position of a monarch in comparison to a politically powerful dynasty, their sources of wealth, the Kennedy family’s devout Catholicism, and marked differences in the raising of their children.
Professor Mayhew said: “While the Royal Family and the Kennedys are effectively polar opposites, both have been hugely influential for more than a century.
“These two dynasties, originally established by males, have been dominated by females who lived for much longer than any male before them.”
Britain’s longest serving monarchs
He added: “It is incredible that only 0.15 percent of the British population are older than the Queen, whose reign has spanned over an extraordinary period of history and change.
“While we see that members of the Royal Family have significantly outlived the general population over the past decades, it seems to be about more than power and privilege, when we compare them to the similarly termed dynasty of the Kennedys.
“The length of both dynasties matters.
“That both Her Majesty The Queen and Rose Kennedy lived for so long is hugely significant in the influence they had and are continuing to have on their respective societies.”