A WEARSIDE famiy were amazed to discover they were the second cousins of our future Queen.
As Prince William and Kate Middleton walk down the aisle on April 29 – and the country enjoys a day off work – Houghton-based John and Susan Harrison will be watching at home, knowing they have a close connection to the historic events unfolding at Westminster Abbey.
Kate’s great-grandfather Tom Harrison was born in Hetton, County Durham.
He was also the uncle of John and his sister Susan Harrison, who live in Houghton. And this means they are the second cousins of Kate.
John, 63, a retired transport fitter who lives in Meadow Close, Houghton, with wife Valerie, 61, a retired probation service worker, said: “My dad was George, and his brother was Tom – Kate’s great-grandfather. I think that makes her my second cousin, twice removed.”
John said Tom and three other uncles – Wilf, Jack and Albert, his dad’s twin – moved to London when he was young.
He said: “Four of them moved to London when I was about five or six. They moved because they didn’t want to go down the mines.
“My dad moved to London for a while after the war and worked as a chauffeur, but he came back.”
He added: “I’ve got vague memories of Tommy visiting, but I don’t remember him much. He didn’t visit as much as the others.”
The Harrisons first arrived in Hetton when James Harrison, Kate’s great-great-great-great-grandfather moved from Byker in Newcastle looking for work.
John and his sister Susan, 58, are still in touch with cousins up here, but John said the North East branch of the family has largely lost touch with those who moved to London.
The siblings, though, had already had their suspicions about their family links before last week’s Royal announcement – particularly after a researcher got in touch asking probing questions.
John – who has three children, Neil, 38, Jill, 32, and Mark, 28, as well as four grandchildren – said the link with Kate Middleton became clear when his daughter-in-law put together a family tree.
He said: “I very much doubt that we’ll be invited to the wedding, but I would like to think our Jean (my cousin) in Dorset would get an invite. She is quite friendly with Kate’s mother.
“Jean and I are still in touch – more so since we got all the information (about the family tree).”
He added: “I was pleased for Kate – it’s getting Hetton in the news and certainly giving people plenty to talk about. There’s definitely a North–South divide and there’s a lot of good stuff comes out of the north, not just coal.
“They seem to be a very down-to-earth couple compared to his father – I think Diana was chosen to get an heir. William seems to have chosen his wife.”