Princess Olga is the youngest child of Prince Andrew Alexandrovich of Russia, nephew of tsar Nicholas II – the last tsar who was executed together with his family by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Her mother, Nadine McDougall from the famous McDougall flour-milling family, was of Scottish and Scandinavian descent. She was Prince Andrew’s second wife.
Princess Olga was brought up at Provender House, a Grade II* listed historic house in Kent, in the English countryside. The princess had an idyllic childhood enjoying the outdoor life, riding her ponies and donkeys and playing with the farmyard animals on the land around the home.
At the age of seventeen she was sent to Winkfield Place finishing school near Windsor to learn about flower arranging, cookery, dressmaking and other skills deemed to be suitable for debutantes at the time. Princess Olga’s mother was keen to introduce her daughter to society to find her a suitable aristocratic husband. Her coming out ball took place in 1968, at The Dorchester Hotel in London.
Princess Olga married Thomas Mathew in 1975. They had four children. Nicholas, who was born in 1976, Francis in 1978 and Alexandra in 1981. The fourth child, Tom, died in 1987 at the very young age of 18 months of a rare heart defect. Princess Olga brought up the children in Scotland.
Saving Provender House
Parts of Provender house date back to the 13th century with later additions to the building throughout the centuries. Princess Olga’s father died in 1981 and her mother continued to live at Provender House until her last days in 2000. When Princess Olga moved back into the house, it was in an extreme derelict state. She managed to raise some funds for its restoration through English Heritage, as the building and estate were of significant historical value. She had to sell many of the valuable Romanov memorabilia – the fabled Romanov jewels were sold long before – to finance the upkeep of the house and the constant ongoing works.
Princess Olga is patron of a number of glittering balls helping to raise funds for charities. The Russian Summer Ball, and more recently The Russian Debutante Ball in London, are just two of the most prestigious social events that she supports with her patronage.