The British royal family is a big one with aunts and uncles galore, so it should come as no surprise that the late monarch had quite a few cousins. So, who were Queen Elizabeth’s cousins, you ask? Well, we’d have to write a book to name them all (she had a whopping 31 first cousins!), but here’s a rundown of the most prominent among them.
The 7 Most Prominent of Queen Elizabeth's Cousins
1. Princess Alexandra, the Hon Lady Ogilvy
Princess Alexandra (born December 25, 1936) was Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin through their fathers, King George VI and Prince George (Duke of Kent). In addition to having served as one of Queen Elizabeth’s bridesmaids, Princess Alexandra also frequently acted as a stand-in for the queen when Her Majesty was unable to attend events.
She currently remains a working member of the royal family—at age 86, no less—and is a patron of the arts and sciences, and particularly active on the healthcare front, too…so let’s just say she’s no slouch!
2. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
Another of Queen Elizabeth II’s paternal first cousins: Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (born October 9, 1935), is Princess Alexandra’s older brother and one of the longest-serving living members of the royal family. Indeed, the Duke of Kent has devoted his life to the monarchy, as well as the British armed forces, where he served for 21 years. Although he retired from the army in 1976, Prince Edward remains a passionate advocate for veterans and, per the royal family’s website, is “involved with over 140 different charities, organizations and professional bodies which cover a wide range of issues.”
When Prince Edward isn’t busy with his royal engagements, you’ll find him at his home on the grounds of Kensington Palace or attending a Wimbledon tournament. (He’s a tennis enthusiast and regularly appears at the prestigious sporting event.)
3. Prince Michael of Kent
Prince Michael of Kent (born July 4, 1942) is the third child of Prince George, Duke of Kent, and the younger brother of Princess Alexandra and Prince Edward. He is not a working member of the royal family and does not receive any public funds, but he has been known to attend royal celebrations and was permitted to live at the Kensington Palace on Queen Elizabeth II’s dime.
Prince Michael also has ties to the Romanovs, the last imperial family of Russia, on his mother’s side—a connection he had historically embraced until Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine. It’s also worth noting that Prince Michael is the most controversial of the three siblings: He was accused of seeking favors from Vladimir Putin (an allegation he categorically denied), and his wife, Princess Michael, has been called out for blatant racism on more than one occasion.
4. Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester (born August 26, 1944), is the son of Prince Henry and Princess Alice, Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and yet another one of Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousins. Despite his noble birth, Prince Richard had no intention of becoming a working member of the royal family and initially preferred to keep a low-profile. He enrolled at Cambridge University, earned a degree in architecture and went on to start his career as a partner at a London-based architecture firm.
Alas, plans changed when his older brother, Prince William of Gloucester, tragically passed away in a plane crash at age 30—leaving Prince Richard the next in line to inherit his father’s lofty title…and so he did. After that fateful turn of events, Prince Richard resigned from his position at the architecture firm and has since become a working member of the royal family, devoting his time to a wide range of duties.
5. The Hon Margaret Elphinstone, Mrs Rhodes
One of the most colorful characters on the list, the Honourable Margaret Elphinstone was the first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and—more importantly—her close friend and confidante. In fact, the two cousins grew up together and were best friends since childhood—a bond that endured for 80 years, until Mrs Rhodes sadly passed.
The most remarkable thing about Elphinstone was the spirited life she led. She was one of the few royal women belonging to a generation that didn’t receive formal school, but she obtained a different sort of education, having worked at the headquarters of the Secret Service, M16, where she recorded messages from spies and was privy to all manner of national secrets. In her leisure time, she was an avid big game hunter with a zest for life and a love of the outdoors. She continued to enjoy frequent visits from Her Majesty in the later years, and it’s safe to say her death hit Queen Elizabeth quite hard.
6. Lady Mary Leveson-Gower
Lady Mary (born December 12, 1917) was the daughter of Lady Rose Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother’s older sister, and thus a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. Not much is publicly known about Lady Mary, as she kept a low-profile and was never a working member of the royal family. She did, however, go on record with several childhood stories—including some charming anecdotes about the way Queen Elizabeth used to play when she was still a princess and a carefree kid. Her Majesty attended the funeral of Lady Mary back in 2014.
7. Anne Bowes-Lyon, Princess of Denmark
Princess Anne of Denmark was Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin by way of her father, John Bowes-Lyon. Interestingly enough, Princess Anne was born stateside (Washington, D.C., to be precise) in 1917. Her “princess” title was earned from her second marriage to Prince George Valdemar of Denmark.
Despite her close blood relation to Queen Elizabeth II, they had very little childhood contact—though Princess Anne’s son, Patrick Lichfield, went on to become a photographer at several very important royal events, including the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer and the queen’s Diamond Jubilee. She’s also a particularly intriguing character given that two of her younger sisters, Katherine and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon, were institutionalized for intellectual disabilities—a sad piece of history and one of the more noteworthy royal family scandals.
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