Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester

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Duchess of Gloucester (more)
Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester.jpg
The Duchess in November 2013
Born Birgitte Eva Henriksen
(1946-06-20) 20 June 1946 (age 69)
Odense, Denmark
Spouse Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester (m. 1972)
Issue Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster
Lady Davina Lewis
Lady Rose Gilman
Full name
Birgitte Eva[1]
House Windsor (by marriage)
Father Asger Henriksen
Mother Vivian van Deurs
Religion Church of England

Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, GCVO (née Birgitte Eva Henriksen; formerly van Deurs; born on 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 the Queen.

Early life[edit]

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.[2] She took her mother's ancestral name van Deurs on 15 January 1966, when her parents separated. She moved to Cambridge, England and also worked at the Danish Embassy in London.[3]


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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]


The couple have three children:

  • Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster, born 24 October 1974. He married Claire Booth on 22 June 2002. The couple have two children: Xan Windsor, Lord Culloden (born 12 March 2007) and Lady Cosima Rose Alexandra Windsor (born 20 May 2010)
  • Lady Davina 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) and Tāne Mahuta Lewis (born 25 May 2012)
  • Lady Rose 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) and Rufus Gilman (born October/November 2012)

Official role[edit]

The Duchess of Gloucester has accompanied the Duke of Gloucester on his official visits overseas: her first visit was in 1973, when they represented the Queen at the 70th birthday celebrations of King Olav V of Norway.[7] 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.[7]

Birgitte has also travelled overseas in support of her own patronages and military units, including a visit to Iraq in December 2008.[7]

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 also the Royal Patron of the Bermuda Regiment. 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.

After the death of Diana, Princess of Wales,[8] Birgitte became President of the Royal Academy of Music.[9] She is also the patron of Prostate Cancer UK.[10] In March 2006, she opened the Prostate Centre.[11]

The Duchess lives in London at Kensington Palace, her official royal residence.

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 20 June 1946 – 15 January 1966:[2] 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 – present: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester


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


Commonwealth honours[edit]

Honorary military appointments[edit]

Australia Australia
  • Australia Colonel-in-Chief, of the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps
Bermuda Bermuda
Canada Canada
New Zealand New Zealand
  • New Zealand Colonel-in-Chief, of the Royal New Zealand Army Educational Corps
United Kingdom United Kingdom


Arms of Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester
Coat of Arms of Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester.svg
Coat of arms of Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester depicting her husband's armorial bearings marshalled with her paternal (Henriksen) arms on an escutcheon of pretence.
Coronet of a Grandchild of the Sovereign.
HRH The Duke of Gloucester's arms and in the centre an escutcheon of the Arms of Henriksen, viz, Azure a Blue Gull Vert in chief Or four Feathers Sable crossed in pairs.
The Royal Supporters differenced with the like coronet and label.
The Royal Victorian Order circlet.
Other elements
Insignia of GCVO appended.


Name Birth Marriage Issue
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
Rufus Gilman



  1. ^ As a titled royal, Birgitte holds no surname, but, when one is used, it is Windsor.
  2. ^ a b Name change is mentioned in parish register of Th. Kingo, Odense (Regional Archive, Odense)
  3. ^ "The Duchess of Gloucester – Early life and education". Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "British engagement rings". Order of Splendor. 
  5. ^ Wedding Wednesday: The Duchess of Gloucester’s Gown
  6. ^ "The Duchess of Gloucester – Marriage and family". Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "The Duchess of Gloucester – Public role". Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Special Report: Princess Diana, 1961–1997". Time. 18 September 1997. Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  9. ^ "About us - History". Royal Academy of Music. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  10. ^ "Prostate Research receives royal attention". PR Newswire. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "About The Prostate Centre". The Prostate Centre. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c "The Duchess of Gloucester: Honours". Royal Household. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 

External links[edit]

Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lady Sarah Chatto
HRH The Duchess of Gloucester
Succeeded by
The Duchess of Kent