A look at King Charles' family ties to the North East, where the name of his ancestors is all around

As the nation continues to mourn the loss of the Queen and the new King begins his reign, we take a look at the Royal Family’s roots in the North East.

At the time of the royal wedding in 2011, much was made of Sunderland’s connection to the new King’s daughter-in-law, whose whose great-grandfather, Thomas Harrison, was the son of a miner from Hetton.

As the then Kate Middleton walked through Westminster Abbey to marry Prince William, her distant cousins in Wearside were full of pride as they joined millions of others watching the ceremony at home.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But the new King’s family ties to the North East run centuries deeper.

King Charles III, then Prince of Wales, visiting Durham in February 2018.

His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, the wife of King George VI, was from the Bowes-Lyon family.

The Bowes were one of the most ancient families of County Durham, with their ancestral home at Streatlam Castle, near Barnard Castle – where the Bowes Museum, founded by John Bowes, the son of the 10th Earl, was visited a number of times by the Queen Mother.

Through marriage, the family inherited the Gibside estate in 1722 – now a popular National Trust property on the border of Gateshead and County Durham – which included some of the area's richest coal seams, bringing immense wealth and spreading the Bowes’ influence across the region.

In 1932, the Pontop and Jarrow railway was re-named the Bowes Railway, in honour of the Bowes-Lyon family, who were major shareholders.

The Orangery at Gibside. Picture c/o Pixabay.

The railway, created by George Stephenson, carried coal from Mount Moor pit in Black Fell via Springwell to the River Tyne at Jarrow staithes, where it was loaded onto ships for transportation.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The stone is housed in the Church of St Mary the Less, the chapel of St John’s College, Durham University.

Picture from 2000 of Queen Elizabeth II (left) and the Queen Mother. Picture by Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He also unveiled a commemorative plaque in honour of Dame Elizabeth at Bowes House, her former family home, which is now part of St John’s College.

How the Bowes-Lyons became ancestors to the King

In 1767 Mary Eleanor Bowes, the family heiress married John Lyon, 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, of Glamis Castle, Angus, Scotland.

An Act of Parliament was arranged so the family could use the name Bowes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Jarrow Staithes, pictured in 2015, was the end point of the Bowes Railway.

Later generations changed to Lyon-Bowes, and then to Bowes-Lyon.

John Bowes, the 10th Earl, fell in love with a village girl, Mary Milner, who gave birth to John Bowes, of the museum fame, in 1811.

The couple eventually married the day before the 10th Earl’s death, and a court ruled the young John Bowes could inherit only the family estates in England as his father had not resided in Scotland.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Scottish estates and title passed to the 10th Earl’s brother, who became the 11th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and direct ancestor of Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, daughter of the 14th Earl and future wife of King George VI.

Elizabeth and Prince Albert, the Duke of York, as he was then, were married in 1920, and named their first child Elizabeth after her mother.

As second son, Albert was not expected to become King, but did so on the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, celebrating her 100th birthday in 4 August 2000. Picture c/o IAN WALDI/AFP via Getty Images.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

On her father’s death, Princess Elizabeth became Queen, her eldest son Charles destined to become King.

The Bowes-Lyon family continue to live in County Durham at the Holwick estate near Middleton-in-Teesdale.