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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Having What the Royals Had

David Dobbs wrote at National Geographic about consanguineous sex among royals.

Royal incest, notes historian Joanne Carando, was "not only accepted but even encouraged" in Hawaii as an exclusive royal privilege.

In fact, while virtually every culture in recorded history has held sibling or parent-child couplings taboo, royalty have been exempted in many societies, including ancient Egypt, Inca Peru, and, at times, Central Africa, Mexico, and Thailand. And while royal families in Europe avoided sibling incest, many, including the Hohenzollerns of Prussia, the Bourbons of France, and the British royal family, often married cousins. The Spanish Habsburgs, who ruled for nearly 200 years, frequently married among close relatives.

Sadly, those who do as the royals did are now often prosecuted and treated as second class citizens.

He has the obligatory “this can mess up your genes” talk included, noting…

Siblings share half their genes on average, as do parents and offspring. First cousins' genomes overlap 12.5 percent. Matings between close relatives can raise the danger that harmful recessive genes, especially if combined repeatedly through generations, will match up in the offspring, leading to elevated chances of health or developmental problems—perhaps Tut's partially cleft palate and congenitally deformed foot or Charles's small stature and impotence.

Any child can have health problems. But what doesn’t get talked about enough are the potential positives. Dobbs, thankfully, writes…

And the hazards, while real, are not absolute. Even the high rates of genetic overlap generated in the offspring of sibling unions, for instance, can create more healthy children than sick ones.

Thank you.

Yet affection sometimes drives these bonds. Bingham learned that even after King Kamehameha III of Hawaii accepted Christian rule, he slept for several years with his sister, Princess Nahi'ena'ena—pleasing their elders but disturbing the missionaries. They did it, says historian Carando, because they loved each other.

Imagine that. Some family members love each other in ways that include sexual. That certainly doesn’t fit the bigoted stereotype of “rape and incest.” Nonrelatives can rape or sexually abuse, and relatives can lovingly engage in consensual sex. The problem isn't consanguineous sex; the problem is rape and abuse. Loving, consensual, consanguineous sex should not be kept buried with the royals of the past. It should be brought into the open and enjoyed by all who want to share the tradition old as time.
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