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Dating a distant cousin

To everyone's disdain, there aren't any new engagement leads for beloved royal couple Prince Harry and Megan Markle (even though all signs indicate it's essentially inevitable).But, in other royal news, there has been a recent (and surprising) discovery in the development of their relationship. Before you start jumping to weird conclusions, know this: their relation is very, very distant, dating all the way back to 1480 (TBH, we were all probably somehow related back then).

Children of first-cousin marriages may have an increased risk of genetic disorders, particularly if their parents both carry a harmful recessive mutation, but this can only be estimated empirically, and those estimates are likely to be specific to particular populations in specific environments.In some countries outside that region, it is uncommon but still legal.In others, it is seen as incestuous and is legally prohibited: it is banned in China and Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, the Philippines and 24 of the 50 United States.Only Austria, Hungary, and Spain banned cousin marriage throughout the 19th century, with dispensations being available from the government in the last two countries.The 19th-century academic debate on cousin marriage developed differently in Europe and America.In some cultures and communities, cousin marriage is considered ideal and actively encouraged; in others, it is subject to social stigma.

Cousin marriage is common in the Middle East, for instance, where it accounts for over half of all marriages in some countries.

Writers such as Noah Webster (1758–1843) and ministers like Philip Milledoler (1775–1852) and Joshua Mc Ilvaine helped lay the groundwork for such viewpoints well before 1860.

This led to a gradual shift in concern from affinal unions, like those between a man and his deceased wife's sister, to consanguineous unions.

Cousin marriage has often been chosen to keep cultural values intact, preserve family wealth, maintain geographic proximity, keep tradition, strengthen family ties, and maintain family structure or a closer relationship between the wife and her in-laws.

Many such marriages are arranged (see also pages on arranged marriage in the Indian subcontinent, arranged marriages in Pakistan, and arranged marriages in Japan).

Children of more distantly related cousins have less risk of genetic disorders.