In a brand-new documentary marking The Queen’s 95th birthday, Alexander Armstrong meets the Royal cousins who share details about their most famous relative and reveal what it’s like to be part of this extraordinary family.
Sharing private letters, personal photos and rare memorabilia, they recount treasured memories for the first time and Alexander learns more about Royal life in modern Britain in The Queen and Her Cousins with Alexander Armstrong, ITV, Thursday, 9pm.
Alexander takes viewers on a road trip through the country and the dynasties, and reveals that he may have uncovered a new cousin who can take their place in the Royal family tree.
Alexander starts off in Kent where he meets one of The Queen’s third cousins, Princess Olga Romanoff. Princess Olga lives at Provender House and runs part of the imposing family home as a holiday let with her daughter.
She says: “I always said I would never ever do other people’s dirty washing, ever. But luckily, now that this is up and running it should bring in some income towards the £50,000 a year to keep the place.”
The programme explains how in 1918 Princess Olga’s grandmother was rescued by her cousin King George V and brought to England from Crimea after other members of their family were executed by communist revolutionaries.
Princess Olga shows Alexander around the house and shows him a signed photograph from Queen Mary.
She says: “She had kind of upmarket kleptomania because she would go stay in somebody’s house and she’d be sitting on one of a dozen Sheraton chairs and she’d say ‘Oh, I do like this chair,’ And you’d be obliged to give her all 12.”
Princess Olga adds that she is glad not to be an imperial princess. She says: “You don’t want to scrub up every day. You want to be smelling of horse and you don’t want to have to be tarted up.”
She adds: “The Queen used to take Charles and Anne to have tea with my grandmother and they apparently had beautiful manners and I had terrible manners.”
Princess Olga agrees to go on a road trip with Alexander to track down more of her relatives, starting in Devon where they meet Lord Ivar Mountbatten.
Lord Ivar Mountbatten lives with his husband at Bridewell Park. When the couple married in 2018 they became the first openly gay couple in Royal history.
They talk to Alexander about how they met and show him around the extensive estate which is run as a wedding venue.
The couple do most of the maintenance themselves and take Alexander with them as they get thigh-deep in mud trying to clear a woodland area.
Over dinner the pair talk to Alexander about their decision to get married and how James felt joining the Royal family. Plus Ivar tells Alexander that behind closed doors the family is the same as any other.
He says: “We all have our ups and downs, everybody has their own internal arguments, it’s the same anywhere.
“But you will always remember that The Queen is The Queen. You will say Your Majesty to begin with and then always Ma’am.”
After leaving Bridewell Park, Alexander and Princess Olga hit the road again and head to Norfolk to meet the Queen Mother’s great niece.
In Norfolk Alexander meets Victoria Pryor, the Queen Mother’s great niece and The Queen’s goddaughter.
Victoria’s mother was The Queen’s best friend and bridesmaid and Victoria shows Alexander a snapshot of the two of them together in Scotland in more recent years.
She says: “It just looks like two slightly elderly ladies in their kilts. The Queen would have loved to have been just a country lady with her animals.”
Victoria shows Alexander letters she has been sent by The Queen and tells him about the Christmas presents she has sent her.
Finally Alexander meets Kathy Cormack from Surrey whose family have long believed they are descendants of King Ethelred.
The pair head to Oxford to meet a researcher who is going to find out the truth and let Kathy know if she really is related to royalty.