by Doctor Science
What many, many of us (myself included) imagine when we hear the word "royalty":
Via: Screen Rant
Larger, interactive image at the Royal Family's site
The royal characters in The Game of Thrones are exceptional people: almost all are gorgeous, many are physically strong or talented, quite a few are clever or even intelligent, strong-willed, and possibly magical -- even their pets are of a different order than the norm.
In our world, if you look at the Royal Family of Great Britain you will see ... a family. They have a very strong family resemblance, but that doesn't mean they're all gorgeous. They look like people who have good medical care and dentistry, but are otherwise very much in the mid-range of English/German looks. They aren't notably tall, or strong, or clever, intelligent or wise; they're often good with horses (and Corgis), but not to a preternatural degree. They are, in fact, *completely ordinary* people -- except for their social position.
George R.R. Martin has said that one of his inspirations for A Game of Thrones was the historical Wars of the Roses -- a period when the whole concept of special, Royal (biological) Blood looked much more reasonable.
When only a few people are clean and wear nice clothes, always get enough to eat and never have to go without sleep or warmth, they *will* look comparatively gorgeous, and they are likely to be -- or seem to be -- stronger, smarter, and taller than the ordinary run of folk.
But when most people are reasonably well-nourished and -housed, with good medical care and a chance at education, the apparent genetic component of Royal Blood just fades away. In fact, speaking as a geneticist, Prince William is marrying *up* by choosing a good-looking, healthy young woman with a reasonable brain in her head.
William himself is better-educated than any previous heir to the British throne, and quite possibly more intelligent, too. I'm inclined to think that having a commoner mother helped him there, whether due to hybrid vigor or because Diana believed in rearing her own children.
In any event, I don't think it's reasonable to call William "inbred" at this point, and his children certainly won't be. But I don't expect them to be truly special or extraordinary, either. They'll be part of a family of run-of-the-mill people -- neither better nor worse than most other families as far as nature is concerned -- that society has chosen to consider extraordinary.
It twists my Tolkien-soaked brain to try to think of the families in Game of Thrones as being no more exceptional than the Windsors, but I think it's a useful exercise. When I think about people born into royalty in the past or in fiction, it's hard for me to get away from the habit, the mental rut, of thinking of them as naturally exceptional people -- when all they really were was well-nourished.
I'm heading off
tomorrow later today for a family event of my own and won't be back until Saturday evening, so please -- don't mess up the place, or at least clean up before I get back.