Keira Knightley

Knightley in 2011, photo by Featureflash /

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 known for her films Pirates of the Caribbean, Love Actually, King Arthur (2004), Domino, Pride & Prejudice, Never Let Me Go, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Anna Karenina (2012), The Imitation Game, and Silent Night (2021), and television’s Doctor Zhivago (2002).

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 two children. She has also been known as Keira Christina Righton.

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 Knightley (the son of Frederick William Knightley and Caroline Margaret Pepper). Keira’s grandfather William was born in West Ham, Essex, England. 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 –

Marriage record of Keira’s paternal grandparents, William Knightley and Violet Grace Jones –

Death record of Keira’s paternal grandmother, Violet Grace (Jones) Knightley –

Article about Keira’s mother’s family –


Curious about ethnicity

81 Responses

  1. Holly12 says:

    I find it ridiculous how people state that they believe Keira Knightley looks southern European. Keira looks completely what her background states, of British Isles descent. She has a similar physical appearance to Keeley Hawes, another British actress and I can also see physical similarities between Keira and Daisy Ridley too, especially around the jaw and mouth area. If there was any ancestry that had not been verified within Keira’s background that I had to guess was in her ethnic make-up if would be Irish. I believe Keira has a distinctively British Isles look and even more specifically Celtic appearance. Naturally dark hair, dark eyes, but very pale, white skin. I am not saying Keira does not have any other ancestry within her background, she perhaps does, but then again most British people do you if you’re able to explore their ancestry far back enough, but her look is definitely not rare within the UK.

  2. RadDaddy says:

    Keira looks like an anorexic English woman to me.
    Not exactly sure what people think English, Scottish, Welsh, are supposed to look like?
    I can tell you for sure that the Welsh in particular have a large percentage of people that are quite “southern European” looking and so do the Scottish.
    Keira Knightley does bear a striking resemblance to Natalie Portman, but Natalie Portman also bears a striking resemblance to Polish actress Michalina Olszanska.–hd-movies-movies-free.jpg
    I would call this general look pretty Pan-European.

    Keira looks nothing like Queen Rania of Jordan, a woman that has obvious signs of rhinoplasty, cheek implants and a chin correction surgery.
    Here is a before and after picture.–plastic-surgery-photos-nose-jobs.jpg?b=t

  3. ses101 says:

    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 says:


      Celts origin is in Central Europe, not Southern Europe. Modern Scotland was occupied by Caledonians and Picts, who were described as reddish-haired by Roman writers.

  4. andrew says:

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

  5. lelo4 says:

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

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