DAVID GREENE, HOST:
A man who researched his ancestry discovered he has royal blood. Jay Speights of Rockville, Md., is one of many people who looked into his lineage. His research on ancestry.com contained a surprise.
JAY SPEIGHTS: So you're supposed to look for something that says royal DNA next to the email. It popped right up, royal DNA.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Royal DNA? Mr. Speights is a prince in the small West African country of Benin. His family had been trying to learn the African side of their lineage for decades, and at last, he had an answer. So naturally, he got on a plane.
SPEIGHTS: Next thing you know, I'm in Benin, being crowned as a prince. It was that easy.
INSKEEP: The royal family prepared a festival for his homecoming. They hung up banners. They held a parade. And because the prince had no experience with prince-ing (ph), the royal family sent him to a so-called prince school.
SPEIGHTS: What may have added to the intensity of emotion was that it was my father's birthday. And to land there on my father's birthday was just unbelievable. And I tell you, my father's presence was with me. I could see him and feel him.
GREENE: After his visit, the prince resolved to start working on projects to improve the quality of life in Benin. He wants to create better access to running water, and he has become a big fan of figuring out your ancestry.
SPEIGHTS: Even if it's not a royal family. You know, know more about yourself. It's empowering. To point at a spot on the map in Africa and say I'm from here, it makes you feel good.
GREENE: It feels good, even now that Speights is back in America, where he is no longer treated like royalty.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.