Meghan Markle and DNA testing

14 June 2024

In the past few years, home DNA testing has emerged as a fascinating tool.

It has captured the attention of not just those seeking to reconnect with long-lost relatives, but also individuals intrigued by their own heritage and roots. From household names to ordinary households, more and more people are taking a test and diving into their family origin stories.

In a recent article on the BBC News website, Meghan Markle discussed the Nigerian roots that she discovered from a DNA test she took two years ago.

The test showed that she is 43% Nigerian, with her African roots coming from her mother’s side of the family. Tracing her family back on her mother’s side, Doria Ragland, who was born in Ohio, USA and of African-American descent, they have been able to trace all the way back to 1792 to Doria’s 4X great grandfather, Richard Ragland.

Here’s the BBC clip of Meghan talking about her roots.

So what is DNA testing, and what does it reveal about your family?

DNA testing, or as some people call it “Genetic Ancestry Testing”, is where your DNA is taken and then compared to a large number of samples. These are geographically divided into 20-25 regions based upon population groups.

What this actually means in plain English is this: In each of the 20 to 25 regions (DNA company dependent), there are certain key markers in their population’s DNA. If these markers show up in your DNA, the likelihood is that someone from your ancestry came from this region and passed on that DNA marker to you.

How accurate are DNA tests?

However, this expanding data of DNA markers has caused controversy. With newfound ability to zoom in, companies have been adjusting people’s results. While more accurate and done in good faith, this could be upsetting to some if it means their ancestral roots prove to be radically different to what they were originally told.

So what does this mean for Meghan?

Well, according to the DNA test that she took, Meghan is 43% Nigerian today. However, as more people submit their DNA for testing, this percentage could go up or down, or it could even be split with another, newly formed region as the data diversifies.

It shows how this could be upsetting, particularly if you have been very public about your results. However, it could also help to understand her roots better – there are over 250 individual ethnic groups in Nigeria today, so as the regions become more specific, better understanding is also available for the tester.

Should you get your DNA tested?

This is a personal choice, as the results could lead you to a whole new ancestral mystery (and we do love to help with a mystery in your history!). It could reveal so much about where your family has come from, with origins split across multiple regions. Or it could be a result like the US talk show host Conan O’Brien, who in 2019 took a DNA test and got 100% Irish back as a result, which really narrows down where his family is from!

Are you interested in taking the dive into learning more about your family history through DNA? Here at Family Wise, we can advise you on how and where to test your DNA, help administer the test and assist in understanding the results to help you trace your family around the world; just ask us for a free quote.

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