You would be forgiven for having not noticed Zenouska Mowatt during last weekend’s Trooping the Colour.
After all, Prince Louis was making his Buckingham Palace debut in the requisite adorable shorts and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex had taken a break from her maternity leave to turn up with a dazzling new diamond ring for us to talk about.
However, there on the far left-hand side of the iconic balcony was Zenouska Mowatt and she just happens to be 56th in line to the throne.
While you might be forgiven for writing her off as just another aristocratic girl with an impeccable taste in fascinators and not much else to report on, you would be spectacularly wrong.
Because her family’s backstory is WILD.
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For years, her mother Marina Ogilvy was the Windsor family’s most infamous black sheep whose frowned upon antics — such as posing for a fetish magazine, getting pregnant while single, living on government benefits and choosing to wear black to her wedding — were obsessively chronicled by the tabloids in ’90s.
HOLD UP, WHO IS MARINA OGILVY?
Marina Ogilvy is Charles’s goddaughter and the daughter of the Queen’s cousin, Princess Alexandra, and Sir Angus Ogilvy.
Princess Alexandra is technically “more royal” than the Queen having two royal parents — her mother was Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark and her father was Prince George, the Duke of Kent, and is related to all the leading European houses of royalty.
WHAT’S THIS ABOUT A FETISH MAG?
While a number of royal women have been shot for British Vogue — Meghan Markle soon to be among them — it is hard to imagine they would ever consider a shoot with Skin Two, a London-based mag catering to fetish subculture.
In the late ’80s, Marina appeared on the front of this eyebrow-raising title wearing a rubber jumpsuit, a crown on her head and surrounded by corgis. Bet that went down a treat over Sunday lunch.
MARINA FINDS LOVE?
And there’s a boy involved here somewhere, right? Yep. In 1989, when Marina was 26th in line to the throne, she caused conniptions among the upper crust after she revealed she was pregnant, which would have been the first royal birth out of wedlock in more than 90 years.
The father of her baby was freelance photographer Paul Mowatt, the son of a Scottish trumpeter.
Theirs was not a widely celebrated union.
“The moment she met that creep everything started going wrong,” a school friend told the Telegraphin 2003. “Seeing their relationship play out was like watching a car crash happening.”
Marina then committed what might be the most outrageous royal sin and gave an interview in which she alleged that her parents, Princess Alexandra and Sir Angus, had given her an ultimatum: A shot gun wedding or an abortion.
During this whole messy, sad fracas, Marina and her godfather Prince Charles are said to have fallen out and would not speak until years later.
THE BLACK WEDDING DRESS
In February 1990, with the Queen’s consent, a pregnant-Marina and Paul married. But, in what has been interpreted as a middle finger to her family, the bride skipped the usual frothy white confection and walked down the aisle in a black velvet number with a matching black hat.
Zenouska was born in May of that year.
SO WAS IT HAPPILY EVER AFTER?
Sadly not. A friend of Marina’s has alleged that, “there were fights, sometimes physical ones, between husband and wife. On one occasion Paul was ordered to leave the home by police.”
In 1997, the couple (who had gone on to have a son named Christian too) split up.
Marina continued to hit the headlines into the naughties. In 2003 it was revealed that she was claiming income support and child benefits, The Times reported, despite the fact her parents were worth a reported $40 million.
Complicating the PR-crisis for the royal family as the fact that she was living in a cottage on the grounds of Windsor Great Park (the area where Meghan and Harry live now). However she was paying rent, according to reports.
BUT BACK TO TROOPING THE COLOUR
Things have calmed down for Marina Ogilvy these days. She now lives in a castle on the Windsor Castle grounds and is said to have patched things up with Charles.
Zenouska has appeared on the Palace balcony for Trooping the Colour both in 2018 and this year and was photographed attending the extended Windsor family Christmas lunch in 2017 when Meghan Markle met the clan and Princess Michael of Kent chose to wear a racist Blackamoor brooch.
Zenouska now pops up on the London social scene, has a positively lovely Instagram (she likes posting from Royal Ascot and Trooping the Colour) and is the Head of Marketing for jewellery brand Halcyon Days.
But wait, there’s more!
Here is an extra, very racy titbit. Princess Alexandra married husband Angus Ogilvy in 1963.
Her cousin, the Queen, lent the newlyweds her beloved Balmoral for their honeymoon. A photographer, allegedly, caught them, ah … let’s just say, cavorting in a field.
According to the Telegraph: “The highly revealing images of the amorous couple became legendary among those editors who saw them.”
However, given the age — when newspaper reporters often kowtowed to royal whim — they have never seen the light of day.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and freelance writer with 20 years’ experience who has written for some of Australia’s best print and digital media brands | Continue the conversation @DanielaElser