Tabloid links UK princess to Russian tycoon | india | Hindustan Times
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Tabloid links UK princess to Russian tycoon

A whiff of scandal returned to the British monarchy on Sunday with claims that the 61-year-old wife of a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II is having a fling with a 40-year-old Russian furniture tycoon.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2006 04:52 IST

A whiff of scandal returned to the British monarchy on Sunday with claims that the 61-year-old wife of a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II is having a fling with a 40-year-old Russian furniture tycoon.

In a front-page splash, The News of the World newspaper said Princess Michael, who has been married to Prince Michael of Kent since 1978, had a romantic break with long-haired Mikhail Kravchenko in Venice, Italy.

To back up its claim, it published colour snapshots showing the blonde Czech-born princess holding hands with the dark stranger, affectionately tapping his cheek and sharing a seat in a gondola with him.

"The princess even selected clothes for her toyboy companion, one of Moscow's most eligible bachelors, and he openly gave her a tender kiss," the mass circulation tabloid said.

Simon Astaire, spokesman for the princess, moved quickly to insist that the pair were just friends who had met in Venice to discuss plans for new textile designs -- and to deny that Prince Michael had become a cuckold.

"The princess met Mikhail Kravchenko when she visited the interior design fair in Moscow late last year which in fact, her royal highness opened," Astaire said.

"A friendship developed through a mutual interest in design... They met in Venice recently to discuss forthcoming plans for new textile designs. Prince Michael knows and has known about this friendship."

There was, of course, no public reaction from Queen Elizabeth -- but if she wants to make enquiries, she could do so personally when Princess Michael joins her and other royals at a Sunday birthday church service at Windsor Castle.

The House of Windsor is regularly buffeted by scandals, though no longer to the degree it was in the 1990s when three of the queen's four children were divorced and the rebellious Princess Diana died in a Paris car crash.

Princess Michael, born Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, was a divorcee when she married Prince Michael, with whom she has had two children -- and she is no stranger to controversy.

She was once duped by a fake sheikh, then accused of making allegedly racist remarks in a New York restaurant. The popular press has taken to calling her "Princess Pushy".