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| Duchess of Kent (more)
|Spouse||Prince Edward, Duke of Kent|
| George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews|
Lady Helen Taylor
Lord Nicholas Windsor
|Katharine Lucy Mary|
|House||House of Windsor|
|Father||Sir William Worsley, 4th Bt.|
|Mother||Joyce Morgan Brunner|
|Born|| 22 February 1933 |
Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire
United Kingdom and the
other Commonwealth realms
Katharine, Duchess of Kent (Katharine Lucy Mary; née Worsley, born 22 February 1933), is a member of the British Royal Family, the wife of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, a grandson of King George V of the United Kingdom and Mary of Teck, and first cousin of Elizabeth II.
The Duchess of Kent gained attention for her conversion to Catholicism in 1994, the first senior Royal to convert publicly since the passing of the Act of Settlement 1701. The Duchess of Kent is strongly associated with the world of music, and has performed as a member of several choirs. She is also well-known as the presenter of trophies at the annual Wimbledon lawn tennis championships – a role she inherited from her mother-in-law, Princess Marina, and has since relinquished.
The Duchess's warm and informal manner has won her many admirers. She prefers to be known in her private life as Katharine Kent, and has also expressed a preference for being known as Katharine, Duchess of Kent. However, her formal title remains Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent.
Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley was born at Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire, and was the only daughter of Sir William Arthington Worsley, 4th Bt., and his wife, Joyce Morgan Brunner, daughter of Sir John Brunner, 2nd Baronet and granddaughter of Sir John Brunner, 1st Baronet, the founder of Brunner Mond, which later became ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries). She is a descendant of Oliver Cromwell. Worsley was christened at All Saints' Church, Hovingham on 2 April 1933. Her godparents were: Sir Felix Brunner, 3rd Baronet (her maternal uncle); Major Sir Digby Lawson, 2nd Baronet; Mrs Arthur Colegate (her paternal aunt); and Mrs Ronald Fife.
She was educated at Queen Margaret's School near York and at Runton Hill School in Norfolk. At school she was introduced to music, and was taught to play the piano, organ and violin, which she still plays today. She later worked for some time in a children's home in York and worked at a nursery school in London. She failed to gain admission to the Royal Academy of Music but followed her brothers to Oxford, where they were at the University, to study at Miss Hubler's Finishing School, 22 Merton Street, devoting much of her time to music.
On 8 June 1961, she married Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, the eldest son of Prince George, Duke of Kent, and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, at York Minster. After her marriage she was styled Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent.
The Duke and Duchess of Kent have three children:
- George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews (born 26 June 1962);
- Lady Helen Taylor (born 28 April 1964);
- Lord Nicholas Windsor (born 25 July 1970).
The couple also had a stillborn child in 1977, a loss that caused the Duchess to fall into a state of severe depression, about which she has spoken publicly.
The Duchess of Kent was received into the Catholic Church in 1994. This was a personal decision, and she received the approval of The Queen. As she explained in an interview on BBC, "I do love guidelines and the Catholic Church offers you guidelines. I have always wanted that in my life. I like to know what's expected of me. I like being told: You shall go to church on Sunday and if you don't you're in for it!" Basil Hume, then Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and thus spiritual leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, warned the Church against triumphalism over the Duchess's conversion.
Although the Act of Settlement 1701 means a member of the Royal Family marrying a Catholic relinquishes their right of succession to the British throne, the Act does not include marriage to an Anglican who subsequently becomes a Catholic. Therefore, the Duke of Kent did not lose his place in the line of succession to the British throne.
Since then her younger son, Lord Nicholas Windsor, her grandson, Edward Windsor, Lord Downpatrick, and her granddaughter Lady Marina-Charlotte Windsor have also become Catholics. Her older son, the Earl of St. Andrews, father of Lord Downpatrick, is married to a Catholic and thus has been excluded from the succession.
The issue of children at the All England Club arose in 1999, when the Duchess of Kent, whose husband the Duke of Kent had been president of the club for 30 years, was refused permission to bring the 12-year-old son of a friend into the Royal Box at Wimbledon, and then received what The Daily Telegraph reported in a front-page story was a "curt letter" from club chairman John Curry, informing her that children were unwelcome in the Royal Box. She, in turn, threatened a boycott of the Royal Box.
The Duchess of Kent decided not to use personally the style 'Her Royal Highness' in 2002 and to reduce her royal duties. Since then she has been informally known as Katharine Kent, although her formal style (e.g. in the Court Circular) remains HRH The Duchess of Kent. By way of example, when she made a formal appearance to confer awards at the BBC's Young Musician of the Year competition in 2002, she asked the organisers to introduce her as "Katharine, Duchess of Kent."
In keeping with her withdrawal from full royal duties, the Duchess took a position as a music teacher in Wansbeck Primary School in Kingston upon Hull. In 2005 the Duchess spoke in an interview on BBC Radio 3 of her liking of rap music and of the singer/songwriter Dido, whose song "Thank You" she chose as one of her favourite pieces of music. She is patron of national charity, Making Music, the National Federation of Music Societies, an umbrella organisation for amateur and voluntary music groups.
Reports by the BBC have stated that the Duchess suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, while the Mail on Sunday reported that she suffers from depression. By 1999 she had apparently completely recovered from chronic ill-health, and when asked by the Daily Mail what had suddenly changed, she answered, without elaboration, that she had been suffering unknowingly from coeliac disease. She stepped down from her role as head of the M.E. Society in the UK after this new diagnosis, and has since energetically worked with various charities and schools. When asked by the Daily Mail in 1999 about her long history of illness, her reply was simply that "none of us goes through life unscathed".
In 2004, the Duchess of Kent together with Nicholas Robinson (Headmaster, King's College School, Cambridge) launched Future Talent, a children's music charity dedicated to finding, funding and nurturing exceptionally talented young musicians in the UK.
Titles, styles and honorsEdit
Titles and stylesEdit
- 22 February 1933 – 8 June 1961: Miss Katharine Worsley
- 8 June 1961 – Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent
The Duchess' current full style is Her Royal Highness Princess Edward George Nicholas Paul Patrick, Duchess of Kent, Countess of St. Andrews, Baroness Downpatrick, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.
- GCVO: Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, 9 June 1977
- Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II
Honorary military appointmentsEdit
- Honorary Major-General, British Army
- Deputy Colonel-in-Chief, of Adjutant General's Corps
- Deputy Colonel-in-Chief, of Royal Dragoon Guards
- Deputy Colonel-in-Chief, of Royal Logistic Corps
Organisations named after the DuchessEdit
- The Duchess of Kent Children's Hospital at Sandy Bay, Hong Kong (1970)
- Hospital Duchess of Kent, Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia
- The Duchess of Kent Wing at St.Peters Hospital at Chertsey