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Royal Cousins

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

The year 2022 marks the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, the cousin-in-law, twice removed, of Malcolm, Lord Forbes. This celebration commemorates the 70th anniversary of the accession of the Queen on February 6, 1952, which is the date of the death of her father George VI.

Captain Nigel Ivan Forbes, then Master of Forbes and later 22nd Lord Forbes, married the Hon. Rosemary Katharine Hamilton-Russell, in 1942. Lady Rosemary was the daughter of Gustavus William Hamilton-Russell, 9th Viscount Boyne (1864–1942) and Margaret Selina Lascelles (1883-1978). Lady Margaret’s brother was Henry Lascelles, Viscount Lascelles and later the 6th Earl of Harewood (1882 –1947), who married Mary, later the Princess Royal, in 1922.

Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary Windsor was born in 1897 as the only daughter of George and Mary, Duke and Duchess of York, during the reign of her great grandmother, Queen Victoria. Her grandfather King Edward VII was crowned in 1901 and her father King George V took the crown in 1910. She was the only daughter of the King who had five sons. Mary was given the title of Princess Royal in 1932. In 1936, her eldest brother became King Edward VIII. However, in the same year, he abdicated and her second-eldest brother became King George VI.

Lady Rosemary and her brother Hon. Gustavus Hamilton-Russell attend Mary, Princess Royal, at 1937 coronation of George VI

This royal connection was significant both to the Princess Royal and the Forbes family. At the coronation of George VI in 1937, Lady Rosemary attended the Princess Royal with her brother the Hon. Gustavus Hamilton-Russell, eldest son of Gustavus Hamilton-Russell, 9th Viscount Boyne. As a Grenadier Guard, Hamilton-Russell was killed at the Battle of Dunkirk in June 1940. His ten-year-old son, Gustavus Michael George Hamilton-Russell, became the 10th Viscount Boyne on the death of his grandfather in 1942.

Both the Princess Royal and her husband the Earl of Harewood attended the wedding ceremony of their niece Lady Rosemary to Nigel, Master of Forbes, on May 23, 1942. The Princess became a godmother to their eldest son, Malcolm, who was born in 1946. According to him, Princess Mary always “escaped” from the Royal Family’s visits at Balmoral Castle for a day each summer to lunch with her Forbes cousins. She frequently visited the tweed shop John Russell & Son, formerly located on High Street in Insch, which was a ten minute drive from the Forbes home Balforbes in Harthill. Malcolm remembers playing croquet with the Princess on the lawn at Balforbes.

Three-year-old Malcolm, later 23rd Lord Forbes, with Princess Mary’s son George Henry Hubert Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood, and his wife Marion Stein in 1949.

At the age of three, Malcolm was part of the wedding party of the Princess’s son George Henry Hubert Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood, and Marion Stein in 1949. While Lord Forbes has no recollection of the event, his mother Lady Rosemary recounted that he had to be bribed with a penny to march down the aisle of the Church of St. Margaret in Westminster, London.

At the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Nigel, then Master of Forbes, carried the Princess Royal’s coronet and Lady Rosemary carried her train.

For the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953, at Westminster Abbey, Nigel, then Master of Forbes, carried the Princess Royal’s coronet and Lady Rosemary carried her train. On November 26th, 1953, Atholl Laurence, 21st Lord Forbes passed away and Nigel succeeded as the 22nd Lord Forbes.

In October 1958, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan appointed Nigel, Lord Forbes, as Minister of State under Secretary of State for Scotland Jack Maclay (later Viscount Muirshiel.) In spite of his national duties, Lord Forbes supported the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society through his family connections. “Presiding at the half-yearly meeting in Edinburgh, the current president, Lord Forbes, apologized for not having been able to attend meetings so well since he had been appointed Minister of State – but he had managed, he said, to get some guests to come to the show at Aberdeen.” (“Agricultural Topics,” Kirriemuir Free Press and Angus Advertiser, June 11, 1959) Those guests were included the Queen Mother and the Princess Royal. Regarding his invitation to Queen Elizbeth II, he reported “I am delighted to be able to tell you that Her Majesty has accepted. This is a great honour for this society.” (Ibid.)

Mary, the Princess Royal, passed away on March 28, 1965, and Lady Rosemary died on October 26, 2019. This year’s Platinum Jubilee is a fitting reminder of how close their families grew through the years.

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