Who is Lexi Bowes-Lyon, the King's distant royal relative?
Who is Lexi Bowes-Lyon? Meet the King’s relative and elephant conservationist who was with Queen Camilla’s brother on the night he died
- Lexi Bowes-Lyon is related to the royals through the Queen Mother
- Her elephant charity faces questions after ‘arranging holiday for Putin associate’
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King Charles’s royal relative Lexi Bowes-Lyon faced questions at the weekend after her wildlife charity was said to have organised a luxury holiday for one of Putin’s favourite industrialists.
But how much do we know about Alexandra ‘Lexi’ Violet Bowes-Lyon?
The British socialite and philanthropist shares a famous surname with the late Queen Mother and is a distant cousin of the King.
She is related to the royals through the Bowes-Lyons and Lexi’s grandfather’s grandfather, whose brother, the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, was the Queen Mother’s father.
Lexi Bowes-Lyon shares a famous surname with the late Queen Mother and is a distant relative of the King. She is pictured here at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2022
The late Queen Mother, born Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, in a 1938 portrait by Sir Gerald Kelly
Lexi Bowes-Lyon is distantly related to the royals through the late Queen Mother’s family
This makes her father, David James Bowes-Lyon, the King’s third cousin.
The 36-year-old has been spotted in the company of Princess Eugenie in the past but has kept a relatively low profile.
But until recently she had been better known for another royal connection – as Lexi had been with Queen Camilla’s late brother, Mark Shand, on the night in 2015 when he fell and died of his injuries in New York.
According to the Royal Family website, the Bowes-Lyon family is descended from the Royal House of Scotland. One of the Queen Mother’s 14th-century ancestors, Sir John Lyon, became Thane of Glamis, home of Macbeth 300 years before, and Glamis Castle is the family seat.
In more recent times, the Bowes-Lyons family made its fortune through owning coalmines in County Durham and the north east.
MailOnline Royals has previously revealed that, thanks to links with the north east collieries, Kate Middleton is distantly related to the Queen Mother and her descendants – including William.
Today, Lexi is the Creative and Philanthropic Director of Space for Giants, a non-profit organization based in Kenya that works to protect the natural habitats of African elephants.
The elephant-focused charity has hosted fundraisers at Kensington Palace and Clarence House, according to The Times.
Lexi was educated at St Mary’s, Ascot, a prestigious Catholic boarding school in Berkshire also attended by Lady Amelia Windsor, Princess Caroline of Monaco and Lady Louise Windsor.
She later studied at the University of Leeds where she gained a degree in History of Art before moving on to study Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute.
Lexi has lived in America since September 2011, when she moved to New York to work for Christie’s, the auction house.
Speaking about her childhood and charity work, Lexi told W Magazine: ‘I grew up between Scotland and London so I was always surrounded by these amazing landscapes and was lucky enough to travel my whole life.
‘I’ve been to Africa and various different countries quite a lot.’
Lexi pictured at a drinks reception in London in 2013
The late Queen Mother pictured as she waves to royal fans near Clarence House, her London residence, on her 99th birthday in August 1999
The distant royal relative also worked with Mark Shand, the late brother of Queen Camilla. Pictured: Mark Shand on an elephant
Lexi added she ‘kind of fell into the charity world and decided that creating creative events, using what I already knew, could marry two of my interests.’
Today, the distant royal is facing questions after organising a luxury holiday for a Russian oligarch and Putin associate Oleg Deripaska.
In February 2021, she reportedly hosted a retreat in a ‘pristine and private’ safari in Kenya for Mr Deripaska, who had been sanctioned by the US over his ties to the Kremlin three years earlier.
Organised through a branch of the charity, Journeys for Giants, the sanctioned oligarch was said to be welcomed by both Ms Bowes-Lyon and the charity’s founder and chief executive Dr Max Graham.
Mr Deripaska was invited as an elite donor to the charity. The charity receives hundreds of thousands in grants from the UK government.
Mr Graham, 45, told The Times: ‘We are not in a position to confirm or deny that Space for Giants has or has not breached US sanctions in relation to the 2021 safari given that no competent authority has ever ruled on this.
‘What we can say is that no Space for Giants entity, Lexi Bowes-Lyon nor myself have ever knowingly or deliberately breached sanctions.’
Alexandra Bowes-Lyon with a friend during the Elephant Family’s ‘In Giants’ Footsteps’ launch party at Victoria House in June 2014
Riccardo Lanza, Lexi Bowes-Lyon and Alexander Gilkes pictured at the Alexander Gilkes and Annabel’s Thanksgiving Dinner in November 2016
The last time she made the news was in 2015 when it was revealed she was with Queen Camilla’s late brother, Mark Shand, when he took his fatal fall on a night out in Manhattan in April 2014.
Mr Shand was hosting a Sotheby’s auction for his non-profit The Elephant Trust, where Bowes-Lyon worked at the time. After the event, Shand and Lexi Bowes-Lyon continued to the Rose Bar where they had some drinks and danced together.
As the pair later stepped out of the bar, Mark reportedly motioned for Lexi to go ahead. But moments later, he lost balance and stumbled, causing what would prove be a devastating fracture to his skull.
As well as working for the elephants, Lexi is a volunteer for Take Heart India and is a Junior Patron for The New York Botanical Gardens.
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