Forget the Kardashians! EXCLUSIVE first look at ITV’s new series Keeping Up With The Aristocrats shows four of Britain’s noble families as they try to make ends meet
- An exclusive teaser clip shows today’s Aristocrats fretting about how to pay for the upkeep of the grand houses that have become magnificent albatrosses around their necks
- Princess Olga Romanoff, 71, who has a 13th century home in Kent, is among its stars and is a cousin of the Queen, related to Prince Philip and was once considered an eligible match for Prince Charles
- Also starring is the first member of the British monarch’s extended family openly in a same-sex relationship, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, who wed cabin attendant James Coyle back in 2018
- Completing the noble families are Lord Gerald Fitzalan-Howard, 59, whose father was the 17th Duke of Norfolk, and Alexandra Sitwell, 63 – who inherited Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire – and her husband Rick
- Keeping Up With The Aristocrats airs on Monday 17 January, 9pm, ITV
It was the end of an era for the Kardashians after 14 years and 20 seasons of drama.
Yet four upper-crust families in Britain are set to take over screens next week, as ITV follows their daily lives as they try to earn enough money to survive in a new three-part series called Keeping Up With The Aristocrats.
An exclusive teaser clip shows today’s Aristocrats fretting about how to pay for the upkeep of the grand houses that have become magnificent albatrosses around their necks.
‘I’m not your ordinary princess’: New ITV series Keeping Up With The Aristocrats follows four upper-crusts families in Britain – including Princess Olga Romanoff (pictured)
However, it also features the families having a good time with lavish parties, polo and plenty of booze. Princess Olga Romanoff, 71, who has a 13th century home in Kent, is among its stars.
She’s a bona fide member of the Russian aristocracy, whose great-uncle Tsar Nicholas II was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
Olga is also a cousin of the Queen, is related to Prince Philip and was once considered an eligible match for Prince Charles.
While Olga’s blood may be as blue as the Danube, she’s far more likely to be seen mucking out at her 13th-century home in Kent than quaffing champagne.
Family: She’s also a cousin of the Queen , is related to Prince Philip and was once considered an eligible match for Prince Charles
The House of Romanov
Princess Olga is a descendent of The House Of Romanov, which was the reigning imperial house of Russia from 1613 to 1917.
They achieved prominence after the Tsarina, Anastasia Romanova was married to the First Tsar of Russia, Ivan the Terrible.
Olga is the daughter of Prince Andrew Romanoff who was the eldest nephew of the murdered Tsar Nicholas II – the last emperor of Russia.
Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children were massacred in 1918, bringing a brutal end to the royal dynasty in Russia.
The Romanov’s were first associated with Provender House in 1890 and her grandmother, Sylvia McDougall, bought it in 1912 for her mother.
Born in London, Olga moved to Provender House when she was just a week old and was home-schooled there, before moving between the city, Scotland and Kent
She settled permanently following the death of her mother in 2000.
Olga has restored the 13th century mansion and opened it to tourists.
She also ventured into reality TV, appearing on Australian Princess to give advice. The premise to scour the country to find 12 young Australian women and give them the journey of their lives.
In 2017 she published a memoir, Princess Olga, A Wild and Barefoot Romanov.
Olga was once considered a possible bride for her third cousin and heir to the throne, Prince Charles.
Lord Ivar Mountbatten is a third cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II and a first cousin, once removed of the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Although he is not a member of the British royal family, he is the first member of the British monarch’s extended family openly in a same-sex relationship.
Queen Victoria was Lord Ivar’s great-great-great grandmother, and he is a descendant of Alexander Pushkin.
He was educated at the same institution attended by Prince Philip and Prince Charles – Gordonstoun School.
He separated from wife Penelope Anne Vere Thompson in September 2010 and divorced amicably in November 2011.
In 2015, he converted their former home, Bridwell Park, into an exclusive-use venue for weddings, corporate functions, and business events.
In September 2016, Mountbatten revealed that he was in a relationship with cabin attendant James Coyle.
‘We used to speak to each other so much over the phone that it was a bit like being on Cilia Black’s Blind Date, talking to each other through the screen,’ Ivar regaled
On 22 September 2018 they were married in a private ceremony on Mountbatten’s estate of Bridwell Park – the first ever same-sex marriage in the extended Royal Family.
His former wife walked him down the aisle and ‘gave him away’ – a suggestion their three children Ella, Alexandra and Louise offered.
Pictured: Provender House, owned by Princess Olga Romanoff
‘I’m not your ordinary princess,’ she says. ‘At home you’ll find me shovelling s***, sadly, not eating caviar.’
‘Only children expect a princess in a tiara and a frilly dress,’ she says.
‘Adults might sometimes raise an eyebrow because I smell of horses and don’t wear make-up, but they’re too polite to say so.’
Olga’s pile is medieval Provender House near Faversham, which she inherited 21 years ago upon the death of her mother (her father, Nicholas II’s nephew, had escaped to England).
By then the money had run out and it was a ramshackle wreck. ‘It’s still falling down, £2.5 million later,’ says Olga dryly.
Grand: Others in the show include Alexandra Sitwell, 63, and her husband Rick. She inherited the 17th-century Grade I-listed Renishaw Hall (pictured) in Derbyshire
Work hard, play hard: Olga hopes the series will reveal the reality of life for today’s blue bloods
‘I had to sell some of our Russian heirlooms to fund it.’
Today she generates income by renting out a wing of the house via Airbnb and by giving £14-a-head tours to busloads of tourists.
Yet Olga grew up in the grandest of circles because decades ago money was no object for her parents, until tax problems and her mother’s spending habits saw it whittled away.
At 17 she was touted as a potential match for Prince Charles in high-society magazine Harpers.
‘They were trying to line up suitable foreign princesses for Charles,’ she says. ‘Most of us were the wrong religion – I’m Russian Orthodox.
Wow! Bridwell Park, Devon. Owned by Lord Ivar Mountbatten
Life’s a race: It also features the families having a good time with lavish parties, polo and plenty of booze
Party: To bring in money, Lord Gerald and his wife Lady Emma host weddings at Carlton Towers, which has 17 bedrooms for paying guests and six for the family
Renishaw Hall has been home to Alexandra Sitwell’s family for nearly 400 years.
Alexandra was brought up at Renishaw Hall from the age of seven, and inherited the estate in 2009. She is married to her husband Richard Hayward.
The couple have two adult children together. Alexandra loves the gardens and she credits her mother for continuing to expand and them.
Richard is a British businessman and was chairman of football club Wolverhampton Wanderers from 2003 to 2006.
Grade I listed Renishaw sits on 5,000 acres of land, with 10 acres of gardens.
‘I was brought up here from the age of seven onwards, it’s still very much a family home, I have lots of happy memories from living here,’ revealed Alexandra.
The house was built in 1625 by George Sitwell, with further wings, rooms and gardens added later.
George Sitwell began his financial empire by mining iron ore.
The Sitwell family generated their wealth in the 16th and 17th centuries from iron-making and landowning.
Renishaw was home to the literary Sitwell trio, siblings who established themselves as rivals to the Bloomsbury Set in the Twenties and Thirties.
Lord Gerald Fitzalan Howard
Gerald and Emma moved up to live at Carlton Towers in November 1990.
Their first baby, Arthur, was one month old and nobody had lived at Carlton Towers for 20 years.
Gerald is the youngest child of Miles Fitzalan-Howard, 17th Duke of Norfolk, and Anne Constable-Maxwell.
Miles inherited both the Beaumont and Howard of Glossop baronies, becoming the 12th Baron Beaumont.
Miles’ mother, Lady Beaumont owned Carlton for 76 years, a period which saw two world wars and great social change.
In the Second World War the house was used as an auxiliary military hospital but suffered little damage.
Carlton was carefully restored to its original condition afterwards, at a time when many other large Victorian houses were being demolished.
Emma moved to London when she was eighteen years old and began working for a recruitment company, eventually serving as an associate director.
She met Gerald at a wedding in 1988 and the couple wed in 1990.
In order to fund reconstruction on the house and open it up to tourists, Emma had to sell off family property, including furniture, paintings, silverware, and family heirlooms, to raise over one million pounds.
‘I remember reading the article with horror, because my mother didn’t tell me it was coming out. She was trying to sell me.’
In 1968, Princess Anne delivered a sharp kick to Olga’s leg at the Queen’s annual Ghillies’ Ball at Balmoral.
‘We both liked the same young man and we were dancing an eightsome reel with him in the middle.
‘At one point you’re holding the hand of the woman on the other side, which happened to be Princess Anne, and I was slightly slow on the turn, so the royal foot came out and gave me an eff-off bruise on my shin.’ On purpose? ‘Probably,’ smiles Olga.
Also appearing in the series is Lord Ivar Mountbatten, 58, a cousin of both the Queen and Prince Philip who cleans the 100-plus windows of his mansion, 18th-century Bridwell Park in Devon, himself.
Stunning: Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire. Owned by Alexandra Sitwell
Lord Ivar Mountbatten (left), 58, who lives in 18th-century Bridwell Park in Devon, tries to earn a crust by organising a pop-up restaurant at the house
The divorced father-of-three made history four years ago when he became the first British royal to enter into a same-sex marriage, with airline steward James Coyle.
In the series, Lord Ivar and James try to earn a crust by organising a pop-up restaurant at the house in collaboration with French chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, charging guests £165 a head for an exclusive dinner.
Other toffs in the show include Alexandra Sitwell, 63, and her husband Rick. She inherited the 17th-century Grade I-listed Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire where her family has lived since 1625.
There’s also Lord Gerald Fitzalan-Howard, 59, whose father was the 17th Duke of Norfolk.
When Gerald’s elder brother Edward inherited Arundel Castle in Sussex, as well as 126-room Carlton Towers in North Yorkshire, he gave the latter to Gerald, who’s lived there since 1991. Who needs two stately mansions?
Expensive taste: The clip shows today’s aristos fretting about how to pay for the upkeep of the grand houses that have become magnificent albatrosses around their necks
Lord Gerald is also related to royalty – he’s a descendant of Anne Boleyn. The upside of having a stately home for Gerald is that he can practise playing his drum kit on the roof without annoying the neighbours (Carlton Towers sits in 1,000 acres).
But with a heating bill of £70,000 a year, he’s always dreaming up new ways of earning money.
‘I’m always full of ideas, some good and some completely rubbish,’ confesses Gerald, 59.
To bring in money, Lord Gerald and his wife Lady Emma host weddings at Carlton Towers, which has 17 bedrooms for paying guests and six for the family.
But Gerald is also teaching himself to smoke fish and meat in a shed he bought from Homebase (‘It’s such an eyesore!’ moans Emma), which he eventually hopes to serve to guests and he’s also planted a vineyard so the estate can produce its own sparkling wine.
Country estate: When Gerald’s elder brother Edward inherited Arundel Castle in Sussex he also gave it away to him
Pictured: Carlton Towers owned by Lord and Lady Gerald
‘The moment the vines start growing, we’re immersed in that,’ explains Emma, 60. ‘We’re pruning all day long. It’s back-breaking but it’s so rewarding.’
The wine and smoked meats businesses are still embryonic, but the Fitzalan-Howards hope they will bring much-needed extra income.
‘Having a stately home is a privilege,’ says Emma, ‘but it comes with a big emotional price tag.’
Olga Romanoff hopes the series will reveal the reality of life for today’s blue bloods.
‘Hopefully it’ll show people that we don’t sit on our backsides doing sweet FA,’ she says bluntly. ‘We actually get off them and try to make the place pay.’
Keeping Up With The Aristocrats, Monday 17 January, 9pm, ITV.
Champagne Supernova: There’s also Lord Gerald Fitzalan-Howard (pictured), 59, whose father was the 17th Duke of Norfolk
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