What is it really like to be related to the Royal Family? Alexander Armstrong attempts to find out in ITV’s fascinating documentary The Queen and Her Cousins, which sees the actor and Pointless host chat to some of Her Majesty’s extended family to get the lowdown on their lives and their encounters with their famous relative.
Here’s everything we know about The Queen and Her Cousins...
Where can we watch The Queen and Her Cousins?
The one-off documentary airs on Thursday April 15 on ITV at 9pm.
What is The Queen and Her Cousins about?
Alexander Armstrong travels the country to get the lowdown from three of the Queen’s distant cousins about their experiences as members of the Royal Family, from appearing on the Buckingham Palace balcony to having tea with the monarch and receiving Christmas presents from her as a child.
“They had so many extraordinary stories. Each of them represented a different dimension on the royal connection,” says Armstrong. “They were all delighted to be normal! None of them had airs and graces. They're not snooty. But you knew that each of them could reach out a hand and touch the hem of royalty.”
Who does Alexander Armstrong meet?
His trip begins in Kent where he chats to Princess Olga Romanoff, the Queen’s paternal third cousin, who was once mentioned as a possible bride for Prince Charles. The great-niece of Russia’s last Tsar, Nicholas II, Olga shows Armstrong around her family’s stately home, Provender House, which is run partly as a holiday let to help pay for its maintenance.
“Olga was a hoot and wonderfully indiscreet and swears like a trooper,” says Armstrong. “Her Russian grandeur makes her fascinating, but she is very approachable and she works hard to make ends meet.”
He then travels to Devon to stay at Bridwell Park with Lord Ivar Mountbatten, the Queen’s paternal third cousin once removed, and his husband James.
“It was wonderful meeting Ivar and James, they were the nicest people, and so welcoming,’ says Armstrong. “Their story is such an interesting one as they are the first openly gay couple in the Royal Family. What was charming was how down to earth they are but you still knew that they could reach out a hand and touch the hem of royalty.”
Meanwhile in Norfolk, delicatessen owner Victoria Pryor, the daughter of Margaret Rhodes, the Queen’s late maternal first cousin, shows Armstrong personal letters from the Queen, her godmother, and treasured family photos.
“You realise how fun the Queen is behind closed doors when she has taken the mantle of being Queen off,” he says. “There was a lovely photo of her and Margaret Rhodes showing off their kilts, and you almost don't notice it’s the Queen, she's so relaxed. And after the Queen Mother had died, the Queen sent a sweet letter to Vicky that is a letter from a monarch but also from a godmother, so that felt very special to read.”
What else do we know?
The documentary also sees researchers try to help Kathy Cormack from Surrey discover whether she is a royal cousin descended from Ethelred the Unready.
“Kathy knew every last connection! It just demonstrates how many royal relations there are out there if you work out how many children every child of royal blood had,” says Armstrong. “If we were to examine it through DNA, we all end up pretty much of royal stock!”
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