Keira Knightley

by ethnic on February 23, 2010

Birth Name: Keira Christina Knightley

Place of Birth: Richmond Upon Thames, Surrey, England, U.K.

Date of Birth: 26 March, 1985

Ethnicity: English, Scottish, Welsh

Keira Knightley is a British actress. She is famous for starring in the film Bend It Like Beckham, and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, among many other roles.

Keira is the daughter of actress and playwright Sharman MacDonald and actor Will Knightley (Kevin William Knightley). Her father is English. Her mother, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, is of Scottish and Welsh ancestry. Her brother, Caleb Knightley, has also worked in film. Keira is married to musician James Righton, with whom she has a daughter.

She was meant to be named Kiera, after Russian figure skater Kira Ivanova. Her mother misspelt the name when registering her birth.

Keira’s paternal grandfather was William Francis Knightley (the son of Frederick William Knightley and Caroline Margaret Pepper). Frederick was the son of Charles Knightley and Sarah Ann Astle. Caroline was the daughter of John Pepper and Bridget.

Keira’s paternal grandmother was named Violet Grace Jones.

Keira’s maternal grandfather was Joseph Henry Hosgood MacDonald (the son of William Hearson H. MacDonald and Mary McDonald). Joseph was born in England, and had Scottish ancestry.

Keira’s maternal grandmother was named Janet Rewat Williams. Janet had Welsh ancestry.

Sources: Genealogies of Keira Knightley –

Article about Keira’s mother’s family –

photo by Featureflash /

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

neiltennant October 21, 2017 at 2:34 am

She is definitely not only BRITISH

she is way too dark for a brit

every brit with that look has spanish, iranian, jewish or egyptian roots

for example JASMIN LE BON

she has the same look and has iranian blood

ses101 March 27, 2018 at 5:14 am

Half of Scotland has Celtic blood originating from Southern Europe so if the brown eyed dark haired Celts in her family tree kept marrying each other then that might explain her features. I would say, though, that she could certainly pass for being 1/8 Italian.

andrew June 22, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Considering her brother’s wedding, Scottish heritage is something important in her family

lelo4 August 1, 2016 at 1:24 pm

She looks like a typical woman from Spain or Portugal, not just coloring but feature-wise.

andrew August 1, 2016 at 4:15 pm

I don’t think so (about her as “typical”). She’s extremely pale and skinny. I personally don’t find her attractive at all.

follers August 2, 2016 at 9:32 am

She looks like Queen Rania of Jordan.

andrew June 22, 2017 at 12:04 pm

@ follers

She looks more like Natalie Portman than Queen Rania

neiltennant June 22, 2017 at 8:52 am


ask 100 people in each of the countries GERMANY, SPAIN, USA and in CHINA

and at least 90 people wouldn’t say ENGLISH but some meditarianien country

andrew June 22, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Try to spell it again. To have dark hair does not mean to look Mediterranean. Keira and her family does not look Southern European.

ses101 March 27, 2018 at 5:20 am

Why ask 100 Chinese people – do you think they would know better than actual BRITISH people? I’m from Scotland and I wouldn’t look at her and think she’s foreign. As I said elsewhere it wouldn’t surprise me if she has a little foreign blood, but it doesn’t scream in your face.

neiltennant December 31, 2017 at 1:54 pm

I agree

she looks like a Southern European woman

ses101 March 27, 2018 at 5:25 am

Yeah Neil, because everybody “British” only has light hair, blue eyes. and the same features. The small rural village I live in in Scotland must be full of Jews, Iranians, etc going by your analysis.

andrew July 31, 2016 at 4:55 pm

* English (father)
* Scottish, Welsh (mother)

follers July 31, 2016 at 5:12 pm

I think her father might have Scottish, Welsh, or other, ancestry as well.

neiltennant August 23, 2015 at 6:37 am

She is not the typical british girl

i looked at so many discussions and every time some speaks about the so called DARK BRITS Cheryl Cole, Vic Beckham and Keira Knightley are mentioned !

but this is not very accurate and reliable

i was in Britain years and years again and never seen Brits with that dark features without having Italian, Sephardic Jewish or other varieties

therefore I think there must be more research in the ethnic background of those mentioned people

stonelord November 1, 2015 at 11:19 am

I live in Britain and many, many people are dark haired and dark eyed, especially in the west (Cornwall, Devon) and in Wales, though you can find the type anywhere. I am myself and most of my family through several generations

gel August 1, 2016 at 3:38 pm

You said you were Irish before.

ses101 March 27, 2018 at 5:21 am

Why ask 100 Chinese people – do you think they would know better than actual BRITISH people? I’m from Scotland and I wouldn’t look at her and think she’s foreign. As I said elsewhere it wouldn’t surprise me if she has a little foreign blood, but it doesn’t scream in your face.

athelya November 17, 2015 at 11:19 am

dark brits exist specially south of london and the south in general.. kit harrington, orlando bloom, keira, emma watson are all very much british and imo the more attractive kind of brits

undashing April 16, 2014 at 6:37 am

Yes, she looks like a typical British girl.

Capricious April 2, 2015 at 6:07 am

Yep. Brits can have dark hair and dark eyes.

But Cheryl Cole (also with these features) is a suspicious one. She looks nothing like a full blown Brit.

neiltennant August 23, 2015 at 6:39 am


thats nonsense to talk about DARK BRITS and having only 2-3 people whose ancestry is not documented

what if cheryl coles mother who looks rather asian had been adopted or his grandpa or grandma had a relationship with asians ?

or when people are lying about ethnicity


Capricious October 9, 2015 at 1:06 am

Cheryl Cole is a bad argument here. Everyone would agree that she is NOT a full Brit. She’s hiding something.

But Knightly, Bloom, Sean Connery and Victoria Beckham can still pass as Brits.

Especially Knightly.

The Beautiful Ones December 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm
Hahaha January 17, 2014 at 5:20 am

Lol stop talking to yourself.

wendycs June 1, 2014 at 7:37 am

She is kind of plain looking, flat chested, her face is alright, but she is not ugly.

WTF June 1, 2014 at 9:54 am

i happen to think she’s gorgeous. she’s a classic beauty. and who cares if she’s flat chested. not everyone is into big boobs. i’d rather have a small chest than have gigantic knockers. life is easier with smaller boobs

neiltennant November 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm

she looks like a painting so wonderful face

J.J. September 26, 2013 at 1:58 am

correction; her eyes are hazel (light brown) and her hair is dark brown (brunette) I think it should be listed

J.J. January 27, 2014 at 1:00 am

correction; my mistake, her eyes are too dark to be classified as hazel, I think ‘brown’ is more appropriate

theropod June 26, 2013 at 1:10 am

Like Orlando Bloom, I thought she would have Serbian/Croatian roots cos so many of them resemble these two.

Tribe7 February 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm

she cannot act for toffee

andrew January 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm

so she’s British

Alice November 8, 2012 at 4:44 am

Yes she has Irish cousins but I haven’t been able to find anything that verifies that she has Irish ancestry herself. I’ll definitely post if I find anything though.

Petrarca May 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm

She is a Gaelic beauty.

christian March 22, 2012 at 2:49 pm

keira knightley is one of those dark british people

like victoria beckham

she has very dark hair, very dark eyes,,

she looks very exotic for americans, but actually uk is a country of contradictions, there are so many dark eyed and dark haired people

nnnnn October 17, 2012 at 1:36 am

She’s not VERY dark, and her skin is pale.
She doesn’t look “exotic” at all

Holly12 November 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm

So you have to be ‘dark’ to be considered exotic???!!! Exotic is anything that is opposite to the way you look. For example if you were Japanese living in Tokyo & you saw a blonde haired, blue eyed person, wouldn’t they be considered exotic as they would be in a minority in their looks if they were in Japan.
It does my head in how people always say to be considered exotic you have to be dark skinned, dark haired, etc. Anybody can be considered exotic if there in a part of the world where there looks are rare.

neiltennant October 21, 2017 at 2:35 am

Dark features

Iranians and even Chinese can have pale skin but very dark eyes and hair

she is of iranian and british roots and looks nearly the same

i think keira knightley has also med roots

andrew October 21, 2017 at 3:32 am

> i think keira knightley has also med roots

Well, according to several anthropologists there is a Mediterranean influence in the British Isles, so that is not a big deal.

Angantyr February 12, 2012 at 2:40 am

She has stated that she has Irish descent. She is also Scottish Gaelic (from the MacDonald clan), so technically that really counts as ”Irish descent” far enough back too because Scottish Gaelic people were Irish settlers.

She looks Gaelic. Should put on some more meat though.

Holly88 March 22, 2012 at 7:16 am

When has she ever stated she has Irish descent? I know she has Irish cousins, but she has never said she has Irish descent?

Susan000 January 24, 2012 at 7:41 am

Just because she has Irish cousins does not make her biologically Irish

Alice February 3, 2012 at 4:33 am
Susan000 January 24, 2012 at 7:38 am

Just because she has Irish cousins dose not make her biologically Irish

Alice February 3, 2012 at 4:35 am

Keira’s mother is half Irish not half Welsh.

Alice February 3, 2012 at 4:51 am

Actually I could be wrong as there are many sites saying that Sharman Macdonald is half Welsh so it is confusing. I’ll try to research more.

Alice February 3, 2012 at 5:44 am

One of her Irish cousins is Sound Engineer Andy Knightley so that would be on her father’s side.

roman2886 March 6, 2015 at 12:21 pm

her mother is half Scottish half Welsh her dad is one quarter English one quarter Scottish and half Irish she defiantly has Irish ancestry but it hasn’t been proven yet.

Amanda January 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm

She is so pretty and I can see why she is one of Karl Lagerfeld’s favorites.

Angel Syrene January 9, 2012 at 8:27 am

She is all British

Maria January 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Ya she is mostly British but Ireland is not British but it IS refered to as one of the British Isles..Even though I know a lot of Irish people hate the term.

Maria January 5, 2012 at 8:49 am

So she has heritage from each country in the British Isles .She has beautiful facial structure.

Vanessa June 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Why do they pick THE most unflattering pictures for stars here?

Mike June 24, 2011 at 4:23 pm

she DOES look abit Asian… nto much though

michael May 26, 2011 at 8:50 am

she’s not dark at all
what’s excaclly dark in her?

Vanessa June 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Her hair and eyes?

Trol October 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm

The name is brunette, brown hair is the second most common hair color after black, also brown eyes are the most common eye color in the world.

Paul. March 11, 2011 at 10:13 am

I don’t think she’s part Irish.
She may have Irish cousins, but they could be the ones with roots in England/Wales/Scotland.

amala February 2, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Just because your cousin is one race doesn’t mean you are too. Just saying

Holly88 August 17, 2010 at 7:13 pm

I think Keira might have some Irish relatives too on her Mother’s side of the family. I’ve heard and read that before I’m sure.

ethnic August 24, 2010 at 9:33 am

A good link would be nice Holly88

Dave August 24, 2010 at 12:04 pm

”Knightley, along with her family, including her Irish cousins which include Sound Engineer Andy Knightley, is also a devoted supporter of West Ham United.”

Holly88 August 24, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Thanks Dave for giving ethnic a link, also the name ‘Keira’ is an Irish name too. I think the Irish blood comes from her Mother’s side of the family.

Mary April 26, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Many Welsh have “darker” looks, which from my understanding, is credited to Celtic origins. Anyway, Keira is very beautiful. Her mother and brother have a darker looks as well.

mia April 14, 2010 at 7:41 pm

i think its a welsh thing Mirra, my mum is half Welsh and half english and she looks spanish/portuguese, she has dark eyes, hair and skin :)

Mirra March 3, 2010 at 11:02 am

Keira’s beautiful!!! But she might be mixed, or maybe the Welsh stock is from somewhere else?….just curious. ‘Cause I’m Eurasian, and look a little like her, so I was surprised to hear she was just English and Scottish and Welsh. Catherine Zeta-Jones looks darker than Welsh, as well….

Steve August 24, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Aside from the Welsh bit, Catherine Zeta Jones mother is Irish, Keira Knightly has Irish in her too. It’s probably a Celtic thing.

Eklund May 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Indeed, i thought she was half-asian too!

Anonymous March 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm

*oops wrote Allen twice.

Anonymous March 1, 2010 at 3:34 pm

she has beautiful dark welsh features, similar to lily allen allen and catherine zeta jones

bet March 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm

she’s beautiful

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