There has been much amusement in the last couple of days after Sophie Gadd, a student at the University of York, snapped a picture of Johann Baptist Lampi’s 1794 oil on canvas portrait of Catherine II the Great while visiting the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin. Eagle-eyed Sophie pointed out the immediate and obvious similarities between the Empress of Russia and David Cameron. Her story traversed from the Twittersphere, and made into the pages of the Daily Mail and the Telegraph.
But it does not end there. The Spectator can now reveal that the reason Catherine the Great and our Prime Minister look so similar is because they are related. Quite closely in fact — second cousins, nine generations removed.
It has been well established, and widely reported, that David Cameron is a direct descendant of William IV. Now Mr Steerpike, with the help of professional genealogist Richard Carruthers, has traced that lineage even further. William’s grandfather ‘Poor Fred’ (or Frederick Louis) Prince of Wales, who was the heir apparent to the British throne from 1727 until his death in 1751, was the father of George III, and a second cousin of Catherine the Great.
‘They shared a set of great-grandparents, Johann, Fuerst von Anhalt-Zerbst (of Sophie/Catherine’s birth House), and his consort, Sophie-Auguste Princess of Holstein-Gottorp,’ writes Mr Carruthers. So it would seem that it was more than a passing resemblance.
Catherine the Great is, of course, most famous for her penchant for perverted equine love, but let’s leave that one right there.