Queen Elizabeth's Cousin Prince Michael of Kent Returns Russian Honor Amid Invasion of Ukraine
Indigo/Getty Prince Michael of Kent
Queen Elizabeth's cousin has returned a Russian honor amid the country's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Prince Michael of Kent is returning the Order of Friendship, one of the highest orders in Russia, that he received from former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2009 for his work on Anglo-Russo relations.
"I can confirm that HRH Prince Michael of Kent is returning his Russian Order of Friendship," a spokesman for the prince said, according to the Daily Express. "There will be no further comment."
Prince Michael is related through his grandmother to Tsar Nicholas II, and he has been visiting Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992, according to his website. He speaks Russian and is the patron of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce.
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Samir Hussein/WireImage Queen Elizabeth and Prince Michael of Kent
Last year, Prince Michael was accused of selling access to Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime. He was secretly filmed during a business meeting with two undercover reporters posing as investors from a fake South Korean business seeking contacts in the Kremlin, according to the Sunday Times of London. Prince Michael, 79, allegedly offered his royal endorsement in exchange for a $200,000 fee, reportedly saying he'd use his home in Kensington Palace (where Prince William and Kate Middleton also live with their three children) as a backdrop for the recorded speech.
His friend and business partner Simon Isaacs, whose title is the Marquess of Reading, reportedly described Prince Michael as "Her Majesty's unofficial ambassador to Russia" during the Zoom meeting.
The Sunday Times also reported that Icaacs said Prince Michael would be prepared to help "open the door" for the phony company through contact with Putin.
"We're talking relatively discreetly here because we wouldn't want the world to know that he is seeing Putin purely for business reasons," Isaacs allegedly said.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Michael of Kent
A spokesperson for Prince Michael said in a statement, according to CNN: "Prince Michael has no special relationship with President Putin. They last met in 2003 and he has had no contact with him or his office since then."
"Lord Reading is a good friend, who made suggestions which Prince Michael would not have wanted, or been able, to fulfill," the spokesperson added.
Although Prince Michael of Kent has represented the Queen at official occasions, including the 150th anniversary of the Crimean War in Ukraine and Trooping the Colour (the Queen's annual public birthday celebration in June), he does not receive any funding from the Sovereign Grant. He works as a consultant for business clients and his personal company, Cantium Services.
Jamie Lorriman - WPA Pool/Getty Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
The British royal family has shown their support for Ukraine over recent weeks.
Queen Elizabeth made a "generous donation" to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal earlier this week.
On Wednesday, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall had an emotional meeting with Ukrainians in London.
Camilla appeared tearful during the visit but comforted the wife of Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.K. Vadym Prystaiko, hugging her and telling her, "We are praying for you."
Prince William and Kate Middleton offered words of support for Ukraine in a statement shared on their joint @KensingtonRoyal Twitter account on Saturday, while Prince Harry and Meghan Markle issued a statement of their own on Feb. 24.
Olena and I are grateful to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge @RoyalFamily that at this crucial time, when Ukraine is courageously opposing Russia's invasion, they stand by our country and support our brave citizens. Good will triumph.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 1, 2022
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On Tuesday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Britain's royal family for voicing their support for the country.
Zelenskyy tweeted that he and his wife, Olena, "are grateful to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge @RoyalFamily that at this crucial time, when Ukraine is courageously opposing Russia's invasion, they stand by our country and support our brave citizens."
"Good will triumph," he added.