Princess Michael of Kent

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Marie Christine
Princess Michael of Kent
Princess Michael of Kent (Armistice Day 2008).jpg
Princess Michael of Kent on Armistice Day, 2008.
Spouse Thomas Troubridge
(m. 1971–78)

Prince Michael of Kent
(m. 1978)

Issue
Lord Frederick Windsor
Lady Gabriella Windsor
Full name
Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida[1]
House House of Windsor (by marriage)
Father Baron Günther Hubertus von Reibnitz
Mother Countess Maria Anna Szapáry von Muraszombath
Born (1945-01-15) 15 January 1945 (age 69)
Carlsbad, Sudetenland,
Greater Germanic Reich
Occupation Author
Religion Roman Catholicism

Princess Michael of Kent (Baroness Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida; née von Reibnitz; born 15 January 1945) member of the British Royal Family with German and Hungarian roots. She is married to Prince Michael of Kent, who is a grandson of King George V.

Princess Michael is an interior designer and author, having published several books on the royal families of Europe. She also undertakes lecture tours, and supports her husband in his public work. The Kents do not officially carry out royal duties, although they have on occasion represented Queen Elizabeth II at functions abroad.

Early life[edit]

Princess Michael of Kent was born on 15 January 1945, in Karlsbad, in the then-German-populated Sudetenland, now known as Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, near the family estates of her Austrian maternal grandmother, Princess Hedwig von Windisch-Graetz, just prior to the defeat and the end of Nazi Germany and of World War II in Europe, and the following expulsion of the German population later that year. Princess Michael is the only daughter of Baron Günther Hubertus von Reibnitz (of German descent) and his Hungarian wife, Countess Maria Anna Carolina Franziska Walpurga Bernadette Szapáry von Muraszombath, Széchysziget und Szapár, a daughter of Count Friedrich Szapáry von Muraszombath, Széchysziget und Szapár, an Austro-Hungarian diplomat, who served as an ambassador in Saint Petersburg at the outbreak of World War I. The Princess's father also had a daughter named Margarita, born on 18 January 1924, from his first marriage to Margherita, Countess von Seherr-Thoß. She dated Anthony Dalzell in her earlier years.

Through her mother, the Princess is a descendant of Diane de Poitiers,[2] mistress of Henry II of France,[3] and Catherine de' Medici,[4] Queen of France (his wife),[5] and also of painter Peter Paul Rubens.[6] Her father was a Nazi party member who had held the rank of Sturmbannführer or Major in the SS during the Second World War.[7] He moved to Maforga, Mozambique, after divorcing. Marie Christine, her mother, and her brother, Baron Friedrich (Fred) von Reibnitz (now living in Canberra), moved to Australia, where her mother ran a beauty salon. Friedrich became an Australian Government official.

Marriages[edit]

1999 portrait by Allan Warren.

Her first husband was the English banker Thomas Troubridge, the younger brother of Sir Peter Troubridge, 6th Baronet. They met during a boar hunt in Germany. They were married on 14 September 1971, at Chelsea Old Church, London. The couple separated in 1973, were divorced in 1977, and the marriage was formally annulled by the Roman Catholic Church in May 1978 for undisclosed reasons.

One month after the annulment, on 30 June 1978, in a civil ceremony in Vienna, Austria, she married Prince Michael of Kent, the son of Prince George, Duke of Kent (1902–1942) and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark (1906–1968). Prince Michael is a first cousin of the current British monarch, Elizabeth II. Upon marriage, she assumed the style and title of HRH Princess Michael of Kent, the female equivalent to her husband's title; because she was not born a princess, she is not entitled to be styled Princess Marie Christine. After receiving Pope John Paul II's permission, the couple later married in a Roman Catholic ceremony on 29 June 1983, at the Archbishop's House, London.

Since the Act of Settlement 1701 prohibits anyone who has married a Roman Catholic from succeeding to the throne, Prince Michael of Kent (at the time, 15th in the line of succession) lost his succession right upon his marriage to Marie Christine. However, their children are in communion with the Church of England and retain their rights of succession.

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have two children:

  • Lord Frederick Windsor, born 6 April 1979. On 12 September 2009, he married Sophie Winkleman and they have one child:
    • Maud Elizabeth Daphne Marina Windsor; born on 15 August 2013 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre in the American state of California.
  • Lady Gabriella Windsor, born 23 April 1981 at St Mary's Hospital in London, England.

Career[edit]

Royal duties[edit]

Princess Michael on 25 June 2003.

Prince Michael has never received a parliamentary annuity or an allowance from the Privy Purse. Nevertheless, Prince and Princess Michael represented the Queen at the independence celebrations in Belize and at the coronation of King Mswati III of Swaziland. Prince Michael also supports a large number of different charities and organisations, and Princess Michael supports him in this work.[citation needed]

The couple have had the use of a five-bedroom, five-reception grace and favour apartment at Kensington Palace. The Queen had paid the rent for the apartment at a market rate of £120,000 annually from her own private funds with the couple paying the nominal amount of £70 per week. The rent goes to the Grant-in-aid, provided by the Government for the maintenance of the Occupied Royal Palaces. The rent is based on the current rate for commercially rented properties at Kensington Palace, and is recorded in the overall figures for commercial rents in the Grant-in-aid annual report. This rent payment by the Queen is "in recognition of the Royal engagements and work for various charities which Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have undertaken at their own expense, and without any public funding," according to a statement released by the British Monarchy Media Centre.[8] In 2008, it was announced Prince and Princess Michael would be required to begin paying rent of £120,000 a year.[9][10] Members of Parliament on the palace's committee had demanded the change after the Kents' rent had come to light.[9] The Kents have lived in the apartment since 1979, paying only their utility bills prior to 2002.[9]

Interest in Catholicism[edit]

Princess Michael of Kent attended several events during the historic Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010. She was present at the Mass at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, 18 September, where she was seated in the first row among other dignitaries, including Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor, the Duke of Norfolk and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. After the Mass, they met the Pope.[11][12] On Sunday, on the last day of the visit, 19 September, she attended the open-air Mass of beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Cofton Park, Birmingham. Princess Michael was personally involved in the Beatification process[13] and attended several other celebrations related to the Beatification before and after the Mass in Cofton Park, including a commemorative concert of the Dream of Gerontius at Town Hall Birmingham on 18 September. She also attended a civic dinner with invited dignitaries and bishops in Birmingham, before attending the Mass and meeting the Pope.[14] Previously, in November 2008, the Princess attended the translation of remains of Cardinal Newman at his Birmingham Oratory, along with other guests of honour, including Francis Campbell, the British Ambassador to the Holy See; the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and Lady Mayoress; Sir Ivor Roberts, the President of Trinity College and former British Ambassador to Italy; and Sir Derek Morris, the Provost of Oriel College, Oxford. After the translation Mass, Princess Michael was shown round Cardinal Newman's Room and Chapel and visited Newman's library.[13] Except for Earl and Countess of St Andrews and Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor, who are members of the extended Royal Family, Princess Michael was the only member of the British Royal Family who took part in the Papal visit of 2010, except the state welcome by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the first visit in Edinburgh. Another Catholic member of the Royal Family, Katharine, Duchess of Kent, did not attend.

Princess Michael of Kent represented her first cousin-in law, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the launching ceremony of the Green Pilgrimage Network in Assisi, Italy, on 1 November 2011. It was organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), which was founded by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1995, in association with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), once presided by the Duke. The Princess read a speech on behalf of the Duke of Edinburgh and led the opening procession.[15]

Author[edit]

The Princess is the author of three non-fiction books, Crowned in a Far Country: Eight Royal Brides (Weidenfeld), and Cupid and the King – Five Royal Paramours (Harper Collins) and in 2004 released The Serpent and The Moon, a true story of love and betrayal in a royal family, and one novel, released in 2013, The Queen Of Four Kingdoms.

Before her marriage to Prince Michael, she was an interior decorator. According to a report in The Observer's Pendennis column in September 2007, the Princess began decorating again under her original company, SZAPAR DESIGNS.[16] From 2007-2011 the Princess was President of Partridge Fine Art, a gallery in London's New Bond Street until it went into administration following substantial multi-year losses.[17] In 2008 the Princess began work as a consultant with the Swiss art gallery Galerie Gmurzynska.[18]

Controversies[edit]

The media claim she once declared to an American fashion magazine that she had "more royal blood in her veins than any person to marry into the royal family since Prince Philip".[19] She is also reported to have said she was "probably the first tall person to marry into the clan" (also true if males are discounted; Princess Michael stands about six feet (1.83 m) tall). The Queen reportedly has referred to her as "Our Val", a reference to the warrior-like Valkyries, and – sarcastically – as "a bit too grand for" the rest of the royal family.[20]

In May 2004 she was in the news when a group of black diners in a New York restaurant alleged that the Princess had told them to "get back to the colonies" when complaining about their noise – an accusation she denied, though it made headlines around the world. Her account of the story was that she remarked to one of her fellow dinner guests that she would be glad to go back to the colonies in order to escape her noisy neighbours. She later described her accusers as a "group of rappers".[21] This was untrue; the group consisted of an investment banker, a music executive, a reporter, a television fashion correspondent, and a lawyer.[21]

In February 2005 she gave a series of interviews to promote her book, in one of which she claimed that Britons should be more concerned about the bloodlines of their children, and claimed that the British media were "excited" by Prince Harry's decision to wear a swastika for a fancy dress party because "of the ownership structure" of the British press. She claimed that the press would not have been so concerned had he worn a hammer and sickle, which "stands for Stalin and gulag and pogrom and devastation".

In September 2005, she appeared in the news again, after the News of the World reporter Mazher Mahmood apparently gained her confidence and claimed that she made a number of intemperate remarks, including calling Diana, Princess of Wales, "bitter" and "nasty".[22]

On hearing that the research of Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth seems to indicate that rank among female baboons is hereditary, the Princess said, "I always knew that when people who aren’t like us claim that hereditary rank is not part of human nature, they must be wrong. Now you’ve given me evolutionary proof!"[23]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 15 January 1945 – 14 September 1971: Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz
  • 14 September 1971 – 30 June 1978: Marie Christine, Mrs Thomas Troubridge
  • 30 June 1978 –: Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent

In full: Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent

Although Princess Michael of Kent is styled as a Princess, she is not a princess by blood, but only through marriage. According to Letters Patent issued by King George V, the style of a British Princess belongs to daughters and male-line grand daughters of the Sovereign. As Princess Michael married into the British Royal Family she only holds the title, style and rank as a courtesy to her husband Prince Michael of Kent. If her husband held a dukedom, she would then again adopt the feminine style of his title and rank and would become a Duchess. One such example is The Duchess of Gloucester. Upon marrying Prince Richard of Gloucester who at the time did not hold a dukedom, she became Her Royal Highness Princess Richard of Gloucester, similarly to Princess Michael of Kent. However, on 10 June 1974, two years after their marriage, Prince Richard inherited his father's dukedom, becoming the Duke of Gloucester. Therefore, his wife automatically assumed the feminine form of his title and rank, becoming The Duchess of Gloucester.

Honours[edit]

See also List of honours of the British Royal Family by country

Foreign honours

Arms[edit]

Issue[edit]

Name Birth Marriage Issue
Lord Frederick Windsor 6 April 1979 12 September 2009 Sophie Winkleman Maud Windsor
Lady Gabriella Windsor 23 April 1981

Ancestry[edit]

The Princess is of mixed German, Austrian, Czech and Hungarian aristocratic ancestry. Her ancestors originated from more than 40 countries.

She is a direct descendant of the "Vampire Princess" Eleonore von Schwarzenberg whose sister Princess Maria Ludowika von Thurn und Taxis is a direct ancestor of British Royal family.

Princess Michael is related to Queen Elizabeth II and her own husband Prince Michael through both of her parents.

From her mother's side she and Queen Elizabeth II are both descended from Prince Ferdinand August von Lobkowicz, who died in 18th century, and from her father's side she and Queen Elizabeth II are both descended from the ancient family of Burggrafen von Dohna and Nostitz family.[19]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ As a titled royal, Princess Michael seldom uses a surname, but, when one is used, it is Windsor.
  2. ^ Thru Diane's youngest daughter thru her earlier marriage Louise de Brézé (1518–1577), later thru her marriage marquesse de Mayenne and later duchesse d'Aumale. The Serpent and The Moon: two rivals for the love of a Renaissance king.
  3. ^ And to add further, great16-granddaughter of Agnès Sorel; Diane's husband is Agnès' grandson thru her daughter Charlotte, Fille de France. Cupid and the King.
  4. ^ Thru her 2nd child and eldest daughter Elisabeth, Fille de France, later to be Philip II of Spain's 3rd wife. The Serpent and The Moon: two rivals for the love of a Renaissance king.
  5. ^ Thru both ladies, their common descendant is Luigi Vittorio de Savoie (1721–1778: HRH's mother's maternal great5-grandfather), Prince de Carignano. Son of Vittoria Francesca di Savoia (1690–1766; great5-granddaughter of Diane) & Vittorio Amadeo de Savoie (1690–1741; great3-grandson of Catherine), Prince de Carignano. The Serpent and The Moon: two rivals for the love of a Renaissance king.
  6. ^ "GeneAll.net – Maria Christine, Freiin von Reibnitz". 
  7. ^ "SS Officer the Father Of a British Princess – New York Times". The New York Times. 16 April 1985. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  8. ^ "Corrections to inaccurate media stories about the Royal Family". 
  9. ^ a b c Cockcroft, Lucy (6 October 2008). "Prince and Princess Michael of Kent to pay £120,000 rent for Kensington Palace flat". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 4 June 2009. 
  10. ^ "Comment on Queen's grace-and-favour apartments". The Mirror. 14 June 2002. Retrieved 4 June 2009. 
  11. ^ "Papal Visit 2010: Westminster Cathedral homily – Twitter Feed". 
  12. ^ "Papal visit: Pope expresses his 'deep sorrow' for abuse". BBC News. 18 September 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "Translation of remains of Cardinal Newman at his Birmingham Oratory". 
  14. ^ "Pope has just met Princess Michael of Kent, Lord & Lady Nicholas Windsor, the Duke of Norfolk, and dignitaries.". 
  15. ^ "PRESS RELEASE: Green Pilgrimage Network launches with joy, hope, faith and practical plans". ARC. 8 November 2011. 
  16. ^ Interior Design
  17. ^ Allen, Vanessa. "Princess Pushy faces the push as antique dealer employer falls victim to credit crunch". Daily Mail (London). 
  18. ^ Art
  19. ^ a b van de Pas, Leo (2005). Sinners and Saints: A Biographical Introduction to the Ancestors of HRH Princess Michael of Kent. ISBN 0-646-45007-7.
  20. ^ "Faces of the week". BBC News. 28 May 2004. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  21. ^ a b Hamilton, Alan; Wapshott, Nicholas (27 May 2004). "You need to go back to the colonies". The Times (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  22. ^ "The fake sheikh and his greatest hits". The Independent (London). 6 September 2005. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  23. ^ Wade, Nicholas (9 October 2007). "How Baboons Think (Yes, Think)". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Duchess of Kent
Ladies
HRH Princess Michael of Kent
Succeeded by
Princess Alexandra, The Hon Lady Ogilvy