Kate Middleton’s Mackem cousin will be getting her tassels in a twist when she returns to Sunderland for a burlesque show.
Katrina Darling, 25, from Fulwell, made headlines around the world when it was discovered that her grandma, Jane Darling, was sister to the Duchess of Cambridge’s great grandfather Thomas Harrison, making them second cousins.
The former Monkwearmouth School pupil was already an established burlesque artist with, incidentally, a God Save the Queen-themed routine, but the family connection saw her appear on the cover of Playboy and Loaded magazines, as well as appearing in high profile shows around the world.
Now she will return to the Sunderland-based burlesque troupe who helped launch her career for one night only to help them celebrate their seventh birthday.
Katrina, who is now based in London, says the Coquette Collective sparked her love of the art form.
She said: “My first ever burlesque show was two weeks after my 18th birthday in July 2008 on stage at The Borough.
“Prior to that I’d always messed about in bands and was involved in the music scene in Sunderland, which is really diverse. I saw the Coquettes perform and thought it was a fabulously different way to express yourself.”
Katrina will be performing a balloon-pop routine at North Shore on Saturday, alongside a host of other burlesque artists including compere Duke DeMilo; Carrie Ann, who is the only Dita Von Teese performer endorsed by Dita herself and Anna Morphic, winner of Drag Idol 2013.
Recalling the time she discovered her Royal link, Katrina said: “It was in the lead up to the Royal Wedding and national newspapers were looking into extended members of the Middleton family. I got a phone call from a reporter at the Daily Mail. At first I didn’t believe them as it was April 1 and I assumed it was an April Fool’s.
“They’d seen pictures of my God Save the Queen routine on the internet and I was hounded for days. I didn’t want to do anything, I was quite happy just doing my shows and photoshoots. I rang the press office at the Palace and they said it was true, and that I should handle it how I want.”
Pretty soon Hugh Hefner’s office came knocking with a Playboy offer and Katrina went on to appear on the cover of the famous American and Italian magazine.
“I’d always been a fan of pin up, which is why I chose to do Playboy,” said Katrina who also works in fashion branding and PR. “But there’s much more I’ve turned down, such as Celebrity Big Brother, Splash and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. I don’t want to eat kangaroo testicles.”
Founding Coquette member Duke DeMilo, aka Sean Coates, says it’s great to have Katrina back. Since the group’s first show in The Borough in Vine Place it now graces the much larger stage of North Shore.
Duke, who has performed at the World Burlesque Games and the Edinburgh Fringe, said: “Burlesque has changed so much since we first started. Back then we had to explain what burlesque was, now people’s eyes light up when they hear the term. People see it on shows like Britain’s Got Talent.
“Katrina made her debut with us more than six years ago and she’s since gone on to perform around the world, it’s fantastic to have her back.Carrie Ann is also brilliant, she’s performed for the likes of Mick Jagger and Matt Damon and performs in a giant 5ft Martini glass, which will look great on the North Shore stage.”
n The Coquette Collective Seventh Birthday Show takes place on Saturday at North Shore, St Peter’s. Tickets are £15 VIP, £8 on the door for regular seating or £5 for students. For details visit www.thecoquettecollective.co.uk.