Does Richard Branson have Tamil roots?

Staff Report/Dubai
Filed on July 11, 2021
Richard Branson will travel to space on aboard a Virgin Galactic spacecraft. Photo: AFP

British billionaire traces a part of his ancestry to Tamil Nadu's Cuddalore district, dating as far back as 1793, DNA tests have revealed.

Did you know Richard Branson, the British billionaire, who will make his highly anticipated debut spaceflight on Sunday (July 11), traces his lineage to India?

According to the Indian news portal,, Branson had revealed two years ago at a press conference in Mumbai, which he was visiting for the launch of his airline Virgin Atlantic’s flight to London, that some of his ancestors had been from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

"I knew that I had past generations living in India, but haven't realised how strong our connections were," Branson had told reporters in December 2019.

He said a few of his ancestors were found to be of Indian descent after conducting a DNA test. Branson traced a part of his ancestry to Tamil Nadu's Cuddalore district, dating as far back as 1793.

One of Branson's great grandfathers was married to an Indian named Aria, a 'saliva test' had revealed. "So, it turned out that from 1793, we had four generations living here in Cuddalore and one of my great, great, great grandmothers was an Indian named Aria who was married to one of my great, great, great grandfathers," Branson had said.

"Every time I meet an Indian, I say we might be relatives," he had added.

In a few hours, Branson will be decked aboard his company Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane, the VSS Unity, along with five others to write a new chapter in space history.

Indian-origin aeronautical engineer Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs and research operations at Virgin Galactic, will operate the experiment on the “Unity 22” flight on behalf of co-investigators from the University of Florida.

If Branson succeeds, he will be one up on Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, who, too, have shown keen interest in space tourism.

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