This Serious Disease Had A Major Impact On Royals

Queen Victoria's reign as Queen of England lasted for over 60 years, which won her the title of the longest ruling British Monarch, until Queen Elizabeth II (per National Geographic Kids). Historically, she had the biggest empire too. Not only that but what really made Victoria stand out was potentially the fact that she had nine children, most of which married into other royal families across Europe, including Spain, Russia, and Germany (via Science). This long bloodline from the British Monarch didn't come without fault, as the male descendants were jinxed with bleeding problems, also known as the "royal disease."

For instance, Leopold, Queen Victoria's son, slipped and fell. Then died shortly after because of an insane amount of blood loss. Friedrich, the British Monarch's grandson, died at 2 years old from blood loss as well. But probably one of the most famous accounts of blood complications comes from Prince Alexei Romanov, the son of Tsar Nicholas II and great-grandson of Queen Victoria. During Tsar Nicholas II's reign, Prince Alexei was treated for his bleeding problems by the eerie healer and mystic, Rasputin (per Hemophilia of Georgia). One by one, the heirs of Queen Victoria passed away as a result of this blood disease. But, how? What was in this royal bloodline?

What caused the royal disease?

The "royal disease" is also known as hemophilia, explains the National Hemophilia Foundation. While the royal family brought more attention to understanding hemophilia, instances can be traced back as early as the second century AD. Each of these accounts talked about uncontrollable hemorrhagic bleeding by both men and women, similar to the stories Queen Victoria's male descendants faced.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hemophilia is a bleeding disorder that prohibits the blood from clotting properly. When the blood doesn't clot properly, it can lead to spontaneous bleeding from vaccinations, injuries, and surgeries. In severe cases, bleeding out can lead to death. It's also hereditary, meaning it can be passed down through genes, via the X chromosome (via National Hemophilia Foundation).

Queen Victoria is believed to be a carrier of hemophilia, which explains why some of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren experienced problems with bleeding. Therefore, three of the British Monarch's children inherited this hemophilia trait, then it abruptly disappeared after three generations. But there was never any evidence to prove it until a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences conducted a DNA analysis to test for it. So, what did they find?

How did they test for the disease?

There's a lot of controversy when it comes to the Romanov family, especially since all members of the family weren't found after their deaths. That is, not until July 2007, when two burned skeletons were discovered, points out a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers from this study conducted a DNA analysis on these two skeletons and confirmed these bodies were the remains of Prince Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria, both children of Tsar Nicholas II.

Afterwards, researchers decided to run another DNA analysis on the bone fragments, but this time they analyzed the bones for hemophilia, points out Science. What the researchers found was indeed a gene mutation that caused hemophilia. However, it was hemophilia B.

According to the CDC, there are numerous kinds of hemophilia but the most common are hemophilia A and hemophilia B. Hemophilia A is classic hemophilia, and it's when factor VIII doesn't clot properly. Hemophilia B, also called Christmas disease, is more rare. It's when factor IX experiences a decrease in clotting. The latter is believed to be what the royal family had, with Queen Victoria being the carrier of hemophilia B, points out National Hemophilia Foundation. It was confirmed Prince Alexei also had hemophilia B, while his sister, Anastasia, and his mother, Alexandra, were both carriers, like the queen, passing on this royal disease (per Science).

Signs, symptoms, and treatment

A variety of different types of hemophilia come with many common symptoms and signs. Some of the most common signs include bruising, excessive bleeding after losing a tooth, frequent nosebleeds, blood in your stools, bleeding in your joints, and more (per CDC). But the amount of bleeding depends on how much factor deficiency (IX or VIII) is found in the plasma, explains the National Hemophilia Foundation. Normal ranges of plasma is between 50% to 150%, but when someone has hemophilia this number plummets to 50% or lower. Anything less than 1% is considered severe hemophilia, while 1% to 5% is moderate and 6% to 49% is mild.

When it comes to living with hemophilia, there are several treatment options available. If you've been diagnosed with hemophilia your doctor might suggest medications that support clotting, also known as anti-fibrinolytics, such as fibrin sealants, desmopressin, or even physical therapy (per Mayo Clinic). In severe cases, replacement therapy may be prescribed, which replaces the clotting factor. Lifestyle changes could help support and protect your body as well. This includes exercising regularly and avoiding certain medications, like blood thinners, aspirin, and ibuprofen. It's always best to speak to your doctor if you're concerned about any bleeding or blood issues.