Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester
Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester GCVO GCStJ (Birgitte Eva; formerly van Deurs; born Henriksen, 20 June 1946), is the wife of Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who is a grandson of King George V and Queen Mary, and first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. Together with her husband, Birgitte undertakes royal duties on behalf of her cousin-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II.
Birgitte was born Birgitte Eva Henriksen, in Odense, Denmark, the younger daughter of Asger Preben Knud Wissing Henriksen, a lawyer, and his wife, Vivian van Deurs. She took her mother's ancestral name, van Deurs, when her parents separated. She moved to Cambridge, England and also worked at the Danish Embassy in London.
In February 1972, Birgitte became engaged to Prince Richard of Gloucester, the younger son of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. The groom designed her coral and silver engagement ring. Their marriage took place on 8 July 1972 at St Andrew's Church, Barnwell, Northamptonshire. The bride's wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell. At that time, she was styled Her Royal Highness Princess Richard of Gloucester. Six weeks after their wedding, Prince Richard's elder brother, Prince William, was killed in a flying accident. Prince Richard unexpectedly became heir apparent to the dukedom and upon his father's death in 1974, the couple became the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
The couple have three children:
- Earl of Ulster (Alexander Patrick Gregers Richard Windsor), born 24 October 1974. He married Claire Booth on 22 June 2002. The couple have two children:
- Lord Culloden (Xan Richard Anders Windsor), born 12 March 2007
- Lady Cosima Rose Alexandra Windsor, born 20 May 2010
- The Lady Davina Elizabeth Alice Benedikte Lewis, born 19 November 1977. She married Gary Lewis on 31 July 2004. The couple have two children:
- Senna Kowhai Lewis, born 22 June 2010
- Tāne Mahuta Lewis, born 25 May 2012
- The Lady Rose Victoria Birgitte Louise Gilman, born 1 March 1980. She married George Gilman on 19 July 2008. The couple have two children:
- Lyla Beatrix Christabel Gilman, born 30 May 2010
- Rufus Gilman, born October/November 2012
They are second cousins of Prince Charles and his brothers and sister, and their children are third cousins, but since none of them is a royal highness, they have no obligation to carry out official duties.
The Duchess of Gloucester is patron of a large number of organisations, many of which have medical, educational or welfare connections. She attends meetings, such as the Governing Body of the Royal Academy of Music and the Council of the Lawn Tennis Association. She will periodically support The Queen at official engagements such as State Banquets, religious services, garden parties and receptions. She has also accompanied the Duke of Gloucester on his official visits overseas: her first such visit was in 1973, when they represented the Queen at the 70th birthday celebrations of King Olav V of Norway. Other joint visits have included Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tonga, Tunisia and the United States.
She and her husband represented the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the state funeral of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV of Tonga on 19 September 2006. They also represented the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the coronation of King George Tupou V of Tonga on 1 August 2008 in Nuku'alofa.
Birgitte is sponsor of two Royal Navy ships: HMS Gloucester and HMS Sandown. She is patron of Bliss, the special care baby charity, as well of St Paul's Cathedral School, St John's School, Leatherhead and Bridewell Royal Hospital (King Edward's School, Witley) and regularly attends functions at all three schools.
The Duchess lives in London at Kensington Palace, her official royal residence.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
- 20 June 1946 – 15 January 1966: Miss Birgitte Eva Henriksen
- 15 January 1966 – 8 June 1972: Miss Birgitte Eva van Deurs
- 8 June 1972 – 10 June 1974: Her Royal Highness Princess Richard of Gloucester
- 10 June 1974 –: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester
Birgitte's full style and titles are: Her Royal Highness Princess Richard, The Duchess of Gloucester, Countess of Ulster and Baroness Culloden, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem.
- 1973 Member of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II
- 1974 Dame of Justice of the Order of St. John
- 23 June 1989 Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO)
- 1975 Service Medal of the Order of St John
- 1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal
- 2002 Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
- 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
- 2008 Dame Grand Commander of the Order of the Crown of Tonga
Honorary military appointments
- Colonel-in-Chief, of the Bermuda Regiment
- Colonel-in-Chief, of the Royal Irish Rangers (until 1992)
- Colonel-in-Chief, of the Royal Army Dental Corps
- Deputy Colonel-in-Chief, of the Adjutant General's Corps
- Royal Colonel, of the 7th (V) Battalion The Rifles
|Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster||24 October 1974||22 June 2002||Claire Booth||Xan Windsor, Lord Culloden
Lady Cosima Windsor
|Lady Davina Lewis||19 November 1977||31 July 2004||Gary Lewis||Senna Lewis
Tāne Mahuta Lewis
|Lady Rose Gilman||1 March 1980||19 July 2008||George Gilman||Lyla Gilman
|Ancestors of Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester|
- As a titled royal, Birgitte holds no surname, but, when one is used, it is Windsor.
- "British engagement rings". Order of Splendor.
- Wedding Wednesday: The Duchess of Gloucester’s Gown http://orderofsplendor.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/wedding-wednesday-duchess-of.html
- "The Duchess of Gloucester – Public role". royal.gov.uk. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
- "Special Report: Princess Diana, 1961–1997". Time. 18 September 1997. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
- Name change is mentioned in parish register of Th. Kingo, Odense (Regional Archive, Odense)
- "The Duchess of Gloucester: Honours". Royal Household. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
|Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom|
Lady Sarah Chatto
HRH The Duchess of Gloucester
The Duchess of Kent