Published: September 2010

Tut DNA

Royal Family

The Risks and Rewards of Royal Incest

King Tut’s family was not the only royalty to have close relations among its close relations.

By David Dobbs
Photo: Baron/Getty Images

When New England missionary Hiram Bingham arrived in Hawaii in 1820, he was dismayed to find the natives indulging in idolatry, hula dancing, and, among the ruling family, incest. The Hawaiians themselves did not share Bingham's shock at the royals' behavior. Royal incest, notes historian Joanne Carando, was "not only accepted but even encouraged" in Hawaii as an exclusive royal privilege.

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