Elle Fanning may play Princess Aurora, a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty, in Disney’s Maleficent, but off screen, she’s a real-life princess.
The actress is the granddaughter of England’s King Edward III and also a cousin of Kate Middleton.
Historians from Ancestry.com have discovered that Fanning, 16, is the 22nd great-granddaughter of King Edward III, who ruled England for nearly 50 years from 1330 to 1376. He was crowned king at the age of 14 after his father was deposed by his mother. The King was married to Philippa of Hainault.
Researchers looked through about 700 years’ worth of such historical documents as census records, birth and death certificates, baptism and burial records, and found that Fanning and her sister, Dakota, 20, are connected to King Edward III through their mother, Heather Joy Arrington (see chart).
“Generation after generation, the lines we looked at pieced back directly to King Edward III proving that Elle is a direct descendant of royalty,” Michelle Ercanbrack, a family historian for Ancestry.com, told PEOPLE. “You can consider her a long-lost princess. This connection is so unique and rare.”
Fanning’s family tree also has a second tie to royalty. The Super 8 actress is the 21st cousin of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. Middleton’s mother Carole Goldsmith is also a granddaughter of King Edward III, which links Fanning and the future Queen of England as relatives.