Princess Michael of Kent

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Marie Christine
Princess Michael of Kent
Marie Christine, Princess Michael of Kent aged 54
1999 photograph by Allan Warren
BornMarie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz
(1945-01-15) 15 January 1945 (age 76)
Karlsbad, Germany (now Czech Republic)
Spouses
Thomas Troubridge
(m. 1971; div. 1977)
(m. 1978)
Issue
HouseReibnitz (by birth)
Windsor (by marriage)
FatherBaron Günther von Reibnitz
MotherCountess Maria Szapáry von Muraszombath
ReligionRoman Catholicism
OccupationAuthor, interior designer

Princess Michael of Kent (born Baroness Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz, 15 January 1945[1]) is a member of the British royal family of German, Austrian, and Hungarian descent. She is married to Prince Michael of Kent, a grandson of George V. Princess Michael was an interior designer before becoming an author; she has written several books on European royalty. She carries out lecture tours and supports her husband in his public duties.

Early life and ancestry[edit]

Princess Michael was born Baroness Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz,[2] on 15 January 1945, in Karlsbad, a town then in German-populated Sudetenland, now known as Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. By birth she is a member of Reibnitz family, uradel Silesian nobility who can trace their noble ancestry from 1288. The ancestral seat of the family was Reibnitz Castle. On her father's side, Princess Michael is a descendant of the Burggrafen von Dohna, Herrand III von Trauttmansdorff and Nostitz family, who are also ancestors of Queen Elizabeth II.[3]

She is the younger daughter of Baron Günther Hubertus von Reibnitz (1894–1983) by his second wife, Countess Maria Anna Carolina Franziska Walburga Bernadette Szapáry von Muraszombath, Széchysziget und Szapár (1911–1988),[2] who was the daughter of Count Friedrich Szapáry von Muraszombath, Széchysziget und Szapár, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Saint Petersburg at the outbreak of World War I.[4] She was born at the family estates of her Austrian maternal grandmother, Princess Hedwig von Windisch-Graetz (1878–1918), shortly before the defeat of Nazi Germany and end of World War II in Europe. The expulsion of Germans resident in Czechoslovakia followed later that year.

Princess Michael's father was a Nazi party member, and an SS Cavalry officer during World War II.[5][6] Her parents divorced in 1946 and, along with her mother and elder brother Baron Friedrich (Fred) von Reibnitz (1942), Princess Michael moved to Australia, where she was educated at Convent of the Sacred Heart, Rose Bay (now Kincoppal-Rose Bay). She then went to London to study History of Fine and Decorative Art, at the Victoria and Albert Museum.[7]

Marriages[edit]

Her first husband was the English banker Thomas Troubridge (1939–2015), younger brother of Sir Peter Troubridge, 6th Baronet. They met at a boar hunt in Germany and were married on 14 September 1971 at Chelsea Old Church, London. The couple separated in 1973 and were civilly divorced in 1977 (the marriage was ecclesiastically annulled by Pope Paul VI in May 1978).[2]

One month after the annulment, on 30 June 1978, at 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 Queen Elizabeth II. Michael presented Marie Christine with a two-stone sapphire-and-diamond ring made from stones that belonged to his mother, Princess Marina.[8] For the ball held after the wedding, she wore the City of London diamond fringe tiara and a cream dress from Bellville Sassoon.[9][10] Upon their marriage, she was accorded the style and title of Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent, the female equivalent to her husband's title. After receiving Pope John Paul II's permission, the couple later received a blessing of their marriage in a Roman Catholic ceremony on 29 June 1983 at Archbishop's House, London.

Since the Act of Settlement 1701 prohibited anyone who married a Roman Catholic from succeeding to the throne, Prince Michael of Kent (at that time, 15th in the line of succession) lost his succession rights upon marrying Marie Christine.[11] Prince Michael was reinstated to the line of succession to the British throne on 26 March 2015 with the passing of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013. Their children are members of the Church of England and have retained their rights of succession since birth.

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have two children:[2]

Career[edit]

Before her marriage to Prince Michael, she worked as an interior decorator.[2] According to a report in The Observer's Pendennis column in September 2007, the Princess resumed decorating under her original company, Szapar Designs.[12] From 2007 to 2011, the Princess served as president of Partridge Fine Art, a gallery in London's New Bond Street until it went into administration having suffered substantial multi-year losses.[13] In 2008, the Princess was engaged as a consultant by Galerie Gmurzynska in Switzerland,[14] and later became their international ambassador.[7] She also served on the board of the Victoria and Albert Museum.[7] Marie Christine, whose husband has a strong interest in Russia, was reportedly taking Russian lessons as of May 2012.[15] The Princess also goes on lecture tours around the world and in countries such as the United States, Canada, Argentina, Greece, Austria, Switzerland and Russia where she talks about historical subjects at universities, museums and galleries to promote her books and endorse her charities.[2]

Books[edit]

  • Crowned in a Far Country: Portraits of Eight Royal Brides. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 1986. ISBN 0-297-79010-2.
  • Cupid and the King. Harper Collins. 1991. ISBN 0-00-223911-6.
  • The Serpent and The Moon: Two Rivals for the Love of a Renaissance King. Simon & Schuster. 2004. ISBN 0-7432-5104-0.
  • The Queen Of Four Kingdoms. Constable. 2013. ISBN 978-1472108456.
  • Agnès Sorel: Mistress of Beauty. Constable. 2014. ISBN 978-1472119131.
  • Quicksilver. Constable. 2015. ISBN 978-1472123060.
  • A Cheetah's Tale. Bradt. 2017. ISBN 978-1784770693.

Royal and charitable activities[edit]

Princess Michael of Kent (Armistice Day 2008)

Prince and Princess Michael represented the Queen at the Belize independence celebrations and at the coronation of King Mswati III of Swaziland. Prince Michael also supports a large number of charities and organisations, and Princess Michael supports him in his work.[16]

Since she was a teenager, Princess Michael has held a long and enduring passion for the conservation of cheetahs and she is international royal patron for the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia.[17][18]

Finances[edit]

Prince Michael has never received a parliamentary annuity or an allowance from the Privy Purse. 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.[19]

In 2008, it was announced that it had been agreed that Prince and Princess Michael would pay rent of £120,000 a year from their own funds from 2010.[20][21] Members of Parliament on the palace's committee had demanded the change after the Kents' rent had come to light.[20] The Kents have lived in the apartment since 1979, paying only their utility bills prior to 2002.[20]

Catholicism[edit]

Princess Michael of Kent in June 2003

Princess Michael of Kent is a Roman Catholic, and attended several events during Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010. She attended Mass in 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 Prime Minister Tony Blair; the Pope gave them an audience after Mass.[22][23] On the last day of the Pope's visit, 19 September, she attended the open-air Mass of beatification for Cardinal John Henry Newman at Cofton Park, Birmingham. Princess Michael was personally involved in the beatification process[24] and attended several other celebrations relating to his beatification before and after the Cofton Park Mass, including a commemorative concert of the Dream of Gerontius at Birmingham City Hall on 18 September. She also attended a civic dinner with invited dignitaries and bishops in Birmingham, before attending the Mass and meeting the Pope.[25] Previously, in November 2008, the Princess attended the translation of remains of Cardinal Newman at Birmingham Oratory along with other guests of honour, including Francis Campbell, HM Ambassador to the Holy See; the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and Lady Mayoress; Sir Ivor Roberts, President of Trinity College, Oxford and formerly British Ambassador to Italy; and Sir Derek Morris, 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.[24]

Princess Michael of Kent represented 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), founded by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1995, in association with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), of which Prince Philip was formerly President. The Princess spoke on behalf of the Duke of Edinburgh and led the opening procession.[26]

Allegations of racism[edit]

The Princess has a controversial history of statements and actions that have been widely viewed as racist.[27]

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".[3] After being told about Princess Michael's lineage, the Queen reportedly joked that she was "a bit too grand for us".[28]

In 2004, she was accused of racially insulting black diners at a restaurant in New York. A spokesperson acknowledged that the Princess had been angry at the group, who were seated on a table near her, but denied that she had told them to "go back to the colonies".[29]

In February 2005, she gave a series of interviews to promote her book, in one of which she said that Britons should be more concerned about the bloodlines of their children,[30] 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 British press' "ownership structure". She claimed that "there wouldn't have been so much fuss made" had he worn the hammer and sickle.[31]

In September 2015, the Princess was in the news for stating publicly that animals do not have rights because they do not pay taxes, have bank accounts or vote.[32]

In December 2017, the Princess was criticised for wearing a blackamoor brooch with a stylised figure of an African man to a Christmas banquet at Buckingham Palace. Meghan Markle, later the Duchess of Sussex, a mixed-race American woman of African and European descent, and at the time the fiancée of Prince Harry, was present at the dinner.[6] A spokesperson for the Princess later said that she "is very sorry and distressed that it has caused offence".[33]

In April 2018, her daughter's former partner alleged that the Princess had owned a pair of black sheep that she named after Venus and Serena Williams.[34]

Health[edit]

In May 2021, it was reported that Princess Michael was suffering from blood clots after being diagnosed with COVID-19 six months earlier.[35] She is known to have suffered from lung issues in her childhood.[35]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

Royal monogram

Since her second marriage, Marie Christine has been styled as Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent.[36]

Honours[edit]

National
Foreign
House
Other

Arms[edit]

Coat of arms of Princess Michael of Kent
Coat of Arms of Marie Christine von Reibnitz, Princess Michael of Kent.svg
Notes
Arms of Princess Michael of Kent, depicting her husband's arms impaled with her patrilineal von Reibnitz coat of arms.
Coronet
Coronet of a Grandchild of the British Sovereign
Escutcheon
Prince Michael of Kent's arms impaled with her paternal arms, viz: Argent, two bars Gules
Supporters
The Royal Supporters differenced with a like Coronet and Label.

Issue[edit]

Name Birth Marriage Issue
Lord Frederick Windsor 6 April 1979 12 September 2009 Sophie Winkleman Maud Windsor
Isabella Windsor
Lady Gabriella Kingston 23 April 1981 18 May 2019 Thomas Kingston

Ancestry[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Princess Michael of Kent". Hello Magazine. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Langley, William (15 December 2013). "Princess Michael of Kent: life beneath the tiara". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Graydon A. Tunstall, Jr, 'Austria-Hungary', in Richard F. Hamilton & Holger H. Herwig (eds.), The Origins of World War I, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 119.
  5. ^ "SS Officer the Father Of a British Princess". The New York Times. 16 April 1985. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  6. ^ a b Greenfield, Patrick (22 December 2017). "Princess Michael of Kent apologises for wearing 'racist jewellery'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "HRH Princess Michael of Kent". Atlantic Speaker Bureau. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  8. ^ Chang, Mahalia (27 November 2017). "A Very Thorough History Of British Royal Engagement Rings". Harper's Bazaar Australia. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  9. ^ "The 22 Most Gorgeous Royal Wedding Tiara Moments of All Time (slide 13)". Harper's Bazaar Singapore. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  10. ^ "The most iconic Royal wedding dresses". Marie Claire UK. 27 April 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  11. ^ Picknett, Lynn, Prince, Clive, Prior, Stephen & Brydon, Robert, War of the Windsors: A Century of Unconstitutional Monarchy (2002), p. 271. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-631-3.
  12. ^ "Interior Design". princessmichael.org.uk.
  13. ^ Walker, Tim (21 July 2009). "Princess Michael of Kent risks being another statistic of the recession". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Art". princessmichael.org.uk.
  15. ^ Walker, Tim (21 May 2012). "Princess Michael of Kent talks her way into new Russian front". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Prince and Princess Michael of Kent - Activities". Royal Household. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  17. ^ "A Cheetah's Tale". www.princessmichael.org.uk. Princess Michael of Kent's official website. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  18. ^ "Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent Joins Fight to Save Wild Cheetahs as Cheetah Conservation Fund's First Royal Patron". Cheetah Conservation Fund. 4 June 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  19. ^ "Corrections to inaccurate media stories about the Royal Family". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  20. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 30 January 2011.
  21. ^ "Comment on Queen's grace-and-favour apartments". The Mirror. 14 June 2002.
  22. ^ "Papal Visit 2010: Westminster Cathedral homily – Twitter Feed". Catholic Herald. 18 September 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Papal visit: Pope expresses his 'deep sorrow' for abuse". BBC News. 18 September 2010.
  24. ^ a b "Translation of remains of Cardinal Newman at his Birmingham Oratory". The Catholic Church in England and Wales. Archived from the original on 21 September 2010.
  25. ^ "Pope has just met Princess Michael of Kent, Lord & Lady Nicholas Windsor, the Duke of Norfolk, and dignitaries".
  26. ^ "PRESS RELEASE: Green Pilgrimage Network launches with joy, hope, faith and practical plans". ARC. 8 November 2011.
  27. ^ Hubbard, Lauren (30 July 2019). "Who Is Princess Michael of Kent". Town & Country. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  28. ^ "Faces of the week". BBC News. 28 May 2004. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  29. ^ Usbourne, David (27 May 2004). "Princess accused of making racist remark in New York restaurant". The Independent.
  30. ^ Harding, Luke (17 February 2005). "Princess Michael defends breeding, Botox - and Harry". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  31. ^ "The fake sheikh and his greatest hits". The Independent. London. 6 September 2005. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  32. ^ Furness, Hannah (29 September 2015). "Princess Michael of Kent says animals do not have 'rights' because they cannot pay taxes". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  33. ^ "Princess Michael of Kent sorry for wearing 'racist' brooch". BBC. 23 December 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  34. ^ Fowler, Danielle (29 April 2018). "A royal ex has made further allegations of racism against Princess Michael of Kent". Harper's Bazaar.
  35. ^ a b Proctor, Charlie (16 May 2021). "Princess Michael of Kent unwell with blood clots six months on from contracting Covid-19". Royal Central. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  36. ^ "About Prince and Princess Michael of Kent". royal.uk. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  37. ^ "Image: Michael.jpg, (2197 × 1463 px)". royalinsight.net. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  38. ^ "Charities & Organisations - Religion". Princess Michael's official website. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  39. ^ a b "The Princess". Princess Michael's website. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  40. ^ "Members of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George". Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George.

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