Who Is the Queen's Cousin, Prince Michael of Kent?
Just because someone's in the British royal family doesn't necessarily mean they're a household name here in the States. One close relative of the Queen's, Prince Michael of Kent, often attends royal events like the Trooping of the Colour, and family weddings, such as Princess Eugenie's celebration in October 2018, but he's relatively under-the-radar in America.
Here's what you need to know about this lesser-known royal:
Michael and the Queen are first cousins.
Prince Michael of Kent was born on July 4, 1942 to Prince George, the Duke of Kent, and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. As a fellow grandson of King George V and Queen Mary of Teck, he is Queen Elizabeth's first cousin. While he was seventh in line to the throne at birth, he has since fallen much further down the order of succession.
He's also distantly related to the Romanovs.
In addition to being a member of the British royal family, Prince Michael is also distantly related to the Romanovs, the last imperial family of Russia. His grandmother was first cousin to Nicholas II, making Michael a first cousin twice removed of the last Russian Tsar. In fact, he traveled to St Petersburg in July to mark the 100th anniversary of the execution of the Tsar, Tsarina, and their children.
In March 2022, he returned a Russian honor amid the Invasion of Ukraine.
"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 married Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz in 1978.
She now goes by Princess Michael of Kent. They have two children together, Lady Gabriella Windsor and Lord Frederick Windsor, who in turn has two children, Maud and Isabella.
They are not working royals, but sometimes appear at royal events and represent the Queen on occasion.
Prince Michael of Kent and his family do not receive public funds, but they are still close relatives of the Queen and attend royal celebrations from time to time. Much like Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, they also take on some public duties to represent the Queen when necessary.
Other than the occasional royal appearance, Prince Michael had a long military career. According to his biography on the royal family's website, he served in Germany, Hong Kong, and Cypress, and now owns a consultancy business.
Additionally, he is involved in about 100 charities and organizations, and is a qualified Russian interpreter.
His daughter, Ella, married at Windsor Castle in 2019.
Just weeks before Princess Eugenie was set to walk down the aisle, Buckingham Palace announced that Lady Gabriella Windsor was engaged to Thomas Kingston. The couple married at Windsor Castle on Saturday, May 18, 2019, just one day before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's first wedding anniversary.
The Kents are no strangers to controversy.
Well before a recent report in the Sunday Times accused Prince Michael of being willing to seek favors from Vladamir Putin, the Kents had seen their fair share of controversies. (Prince Michael has denied the claims.)
In 2018, Aatish Taseer, a former boyfriend of Prince Michael's daughter, Lady Gabriella, published an essay in Vanity Fair detailing the time he spent in London with her family. In it, Taseer writes that he and Gabriella did drugs and skinny-dipped in the Buckingham Palace pool. He also shares an unfortunate anecdote about how Princess Michael of Kent had named two black sheep Venus and Serena.
A spokesperson for Lady Gabriella's parents told the Daily Mail that "There won’t be any comment on the story," but a friend of the young Windsor cousin told the publication that the allegations were "fiction."
But Taseer's story wasn't the first allegation of Princess Michael's racism. At Christmas in 2017, she wore a racist "blackamoor" brooch to lunch at Buckingham Palace, and later apologized.
The family's controversies aren't entirely recent. In 2002 it was revealed that the Kents had been living in Kensington Palace rent-free, even though they were not carrying out official duties full-time. The Queen then agreed to pay their rent out of her own pocket.
“The Queen is paying the rent for Prince and Princess Michael of Kent’s apartment at a commercial rate of £120,000 annually, from her own private funds," Kensington Palace officials explained. "This rent payment by The Queen is in recognition of the Royal engagements and work for various charities which Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have undertaken at their own expense, and without any public funding.”
But in 2010, it was agreed that they would pay their own rent from then on.
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