Commoner discovers she's a 'double cousin' of the Queen's

‘I’m surprised she doesn’t invite me round for tea!’ Commoner discovers she’s a ‘double cousin’ of the Queen’s after learning she’s related through James V of Scotland and the Bowes-Lyon family

  • Kathy Cormack, from Surrey, appeared on ITV’s The Queen and her Cousins
  • The engineer’s family have long believed they are descendants of King Ethelred
  • Kathy thought that was her closest link to Her Majesty, but she was incorrect
  • She is a descendent of James V of Scotland – making her the Queen’s 13th cousin once removed, and is also related to the monarch on The Queen Mother’s side

A woman has discovered she’s a ‘double cousin’ of the Queen’s after learning she’s related through James V of Scotland and the Bowes-Lyon family. 

Kathy Cormack, from Surrey, appeared on ITV’s one-off documentary The Queen and her Cousins with Alexander Armstrong to explore her household’s royal history.

The retired engineer explained to host Alexander how her family have long believed they are descendants of King Ethelred, also spelled Æthelred, who came to the throne as a child in 978.

Kathy thought that was her closest link to Her Majesty, but a researcher from Ancestry informed her on the show, which aired last night, that she was in fact a direct descendent of James V of Scotland – making her the Queen’s 13th cousin once removed. 

She is also related to the monarch on The Queen Mother’s side, the Bowes-Lyon family. Hearing the news, Kathy joked: ‘Oh well, I’m surprised she doesn’t invite me round for tea.’ 

Kathy Cormack (pictured), from Surrey, appeared on ITV’s one-off documentary The Queen and her Cousins with Alexander Armstrong to explore her household’s royal history

The retired engineer explained to host Alexander how her family have long believed they are descendants of King Ethelred, also spelled Æthelred, who came to the throne as a child in 978. Pictured, The Queen today

‘We just grew up with this family history all around us,’ explained Kathy. ‘We all knew we’d been descended from King Ethelred. 

‘It was well known in the family… I guess everybody wants to be related to royalty, so is it true or not true? And how can I prove it one way or the other?’ she questioned.

Her grandfather James believed his grandmother Jemima Dunbar was the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Nichol and Sir George Dunbar, a Scottish nobleman and rumoured descendant of King Ethelred.    

‘To have the family tree confirmed as correct will be incredible, but whichever way it goes, I think it’s still a wonderful story,’ said Kathy before meeting with Ancestry researcher Laura House.

Kathy (pictured) thought that was her closest link to Her Majesty, but a researcher from Ancestry informed her on the show, which aired last night, that she was in fact a direct descendent of James V of Scotland – making her the Queen’s 13th cousin once removed

She is also related to the monarch on The Queen Mother’s side, the Bowes-Lyon family. Hearing the news, Kathy (pictured left) joked: ‘Oh well, I’m surprised she doesn’t invite me round for tea’

Laura confirmed that Kathy is related to the actual George Dunbar, but then revealed how King Ethelred isn’t the retired engineer’s closest royal ancestor to the Queen.

Kathy is a direct descendant of James V of Scotland, who was father of Mary Queen of Scots.

Through James V, she is also related to the Tudors, because she is descended from Henry VII of England, father of Henry VIII.

A delighted Kathy, who has grown up with the idea of being related to royalty, said: ‘Oh fantastic, it’s all true. I thought it was probably some fantastic story made up in the Victorian times.’

Laura confirmed that Kathy (pictured) is related to the actual George Dunbar, but then revealed how King Ethelred isn’t the retired engineer’s closest royal ancestor to the Queen

‘You are the Queen’s 13th cousin, once removed,’ informed Laura, while adding: ‘You are in fact related to the Queen in several different ways, you are also connected to her through her Bowes-Lyon side, through The Queen Mother.  

‘So you are related to her on both sides of her family, you are a double cousin… That’s quite an exclusive group as they tended to marry in nobility so it’s pretty special.’

On what her grandfather would say, Kathy said: ‘I think he would be over the moon about it. He never doubted it for a second, he was convinced of it. I think the rest of the family will be excited. I’m so glad it’s true.’ 

ITV’s one-off documentary has been made to mark the Queen’s 95th birthday and follows Alexander as he meets with some of Her Majesty’s extended family who share previously hidden details about the monarch. 

WHO WAS ETHELRED THE UNREADY? 

Ethelred, also spelled Æthelred, was King of England at the turn of the second millennium. He came to the throne as a child in 978, ruling a kingdom under constant attack from Denmark. 

In 994 more than 90 Viking ships came up the Thames to London. Ethelred tried to buy off the Danes with tribute to the Scandinavian king but Danish raids continued regardless.  

After his first wife Ælfgifu died in 1002 he married Emma, later to become the queen of Canute.  Their children included Edward the Confessor who would later be King of England.  

Ethelred was briefly toppled by a Danish invasion in 1013, led by Sweyn Forkbeard.  He managed to recover his throne but died in 1016 in the throes of another Danish onslaught, led by Canute. 

His nickname of ‘the Unready’ has given him a poor reputation in history. 

However, the title is a misunderstanding: the Old English epithet is meant to mean ‘poorly advised’. That in itself was a pun on his first name, which meant ‘well-advised’.

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