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Who is Princess Alexandra? Queen Elizabeth's best friend once called Prince Charles a 'gruesome child'

Although Princess Alexandra maintains a relatively low profile these days, back in '60s and '70s, she was a style icon and very popular royal figure
UPDATED APR 17, 2021
Princess Alexandra, the first cousin of Queen Elizabeth, once called Prince Charles a 'gruesome child' (Getty Images)
Princess Alexandra, the first cousin of Queen Elizabeth, once called Prince Charles a 'gruesome child' (Getty Images)

Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy, is often considered to be Queen Elizabeth's best friend. From being a bridesmaid of the Queen to getting to ride in a coach with her majesty, Princess Alexandra certainly seems to be a highly favored royal family member by the Queen. In fact, the Queen loves her first cousin so much that she even held a lavish reception for her at Buckingham Palace when she turned 80. Princess Alexandra is also a member of the Order of the Garter, an exclusive honor only given out at the Queen's behest. Membership is limited at any one time to 26 members, including the monarch and the Prince of Wales.

Princess Alexandra made headlines back in the day when she wittily referred to her cousin's son, Prince Charles, as a 'gruesome child' in a letter to her brother. Over the years, we have seen the two royal women share a close bond even while abiding by the strict protocols.


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Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy arrive in the royal procession on day 2 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2018 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse )

Who is Princess Alexandra?

Princess Alexandra, whose full name is Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel, was born on Christmas Day, 1936. Her father was Prince George, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary; Alexandra's father was brothers with Queen Elizabeth's father, King George VI. At the time of her birth, Princess Alexandra was sixth in line to the British throne, but now she is 53rd in the line of succession. Her mother was Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, a daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia.

Princess Alexandra became popular for being the first royal to attend a boarding school instead of being homeschooled. During her first term at school, she was also the bridesmaid at her first cousin Queen Elizabeth's wedding to the Duke of Edinburgh. 

Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy pictured with her husband Angus Ogilvy (1928-2004) as they leave Westminster Abbey on the day of their wedding in London on 24th April 1963. (Photo by Harry Benson/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 1963, she married the second son of the Earl of Airlie- Angus Ogilvy. The couple's wedding was held at Westminster Abbey and was attended by the Queen and her husband, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Although Princess Alexandra maintains a relatively low profile these days, back in '60s and '70s, she was a style icon and very popular royal figure. So it came as no surprise that her wedding ceremony was watched by over 200 million people when it was broadcast on television.

The princess wore a stunning Valenciennes lace wedding gown with a matching veil and train designed by John Cavanagh. Princess Anne was her bridesmaid. When Alexandra got married, the Queen offered to make her husband Angus an Early, but he reportedly declined the offer, which is why their two children neither have royal titles nor carry out any royal duties.

From left to right, Princess Alexandra, the Queen Mother, Angus Ogilvy, Prince Philip, Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II, unknown, at the start of the Epsom Derby, UK, 2nd June 1971. (Photo by P. Floyd/Daily Express/Getty Images)

But Princess Alexandra continues to carry out several royal duties on behalf of the Queen. According to the royal family's website, Alexandra has "supported the Queen throughout her reign, through representing Her Majesty in the UK and overseas and attending events of national significance". Princess Alexandra is patron and president of over 100 organizations including the Florence Nightingale Foundation, St Christopher's Hospice, Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service, MIND and the Mental Health Foundation. Some of her notable representations include visiting Nigeria on the day it gained its independence from the UK in 1960.

Why did Princess Alexandra call Prince Charles a 'gruesome boy'?

In a 1952 letter to her brother Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, she described four-year-old Prince Charles as a "gruesome child". According to the letter during her stay in Balmoral, her mouth was injured, when was reportedly playing a game called "stone". The injury led to a blister and a doctor needed to be called in.

So the next day when a doctor came to pierce the blister, the young Prince reportedly insisted on watching the process, which led to him being labeled as a "gruesome child". She wrote, "So this morning Dr Middleton came and pierced it! Ho Ho. Charles was fascinated and insisted on watching. Gruesome child don't you think?"

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales was described as a 'gruesome child' when he was 4, by Princess Alexandra (Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In the same letter, she also revealed the late Prince Philip's playful side. She narrated an incident where the Duke of Edinburg teased her. She wrote, "By the way, did you see that ridiculous article about me in the Sunday Graphic. Apparently, I am called the Bonny Maid of Deeside. Philip teased me as it said I was going with the Wrens to be a nurse."