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| Princess Michael of Kent (more)
|Spouse|| Prince Michael of Kent (since 1978)|
Thomas Troubridge (1971–1978)
| Lord Frederick Windsor|
Lady Gabriella Windsor
|Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida|
|House||House of Windsor|
|Father||Baron Günther Hubertus von Reibnitz|
|Mother||Countess Maria Anna Szapáry von Muraszombath|
|Born|| 15 January 1945 |
Greater German Reich
United Kingdom and the
other Commonwealth realms
Princess Michael of Kent (born Baroness Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz; 15 January 1945) is an Austrian-Hungarian member of the British Royal Family. She is married to Prince Michael of Kent, who is a grandson of King George V.
Princess Michael is an author, and has 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.
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 Frigyes Szapáry, 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.
Through her mother, the Princess is a descendant of Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II of France, and Catherine de' Medici, Queen of France (his wife), and also of painter Peter Paul Rubens. Her father was a Nazi party member who had held the rank of Sturmbannführer or Major in the SS during the Second World War. 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.
The princess is the author of three 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. She also writes a society column for www.bestselections.com, an on-line shopping website.
- (1986). Crowned in a Far Country: Portraits of Eight Royal Brides
- (1991). Cupid and the King
- (2004). The Serpent and The Moon: Two Rivals for the Love of a Renaissance King.
Before her marriage to Prince Michael, she was an interior decorator. According to a report in The Observer's Pendennis column in September 2007, she has taken up this career again due to looming financial pressures. Since early 2007 the Princess has been President of Partridge Fine Art, a gallery in London's New Bond Street.
First marriage and divorceEdit
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 does not hold the title Princess Marie-Christine. After receiving the Pope'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 retain their rights of succession because they are in communion with the Church of England.
TRH Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have two children:
Prince Michael has never received a parliamentary annuity or an allowance from the Privy Purse. Even so, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent 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 organizations, and Princess Michael supports him in this work.
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 organized 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.
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. In 2008, it was announced Prince and Princess Michael would be required to begin paying rent of £120,000 a year. Members of Parliament on the palace's committee had demanded the change after the Kents' rent had come to light. The Kents have lived in the apartment since 1979, only paying their utility bills prior to 2002.
Interest in CatholicismEdit
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. 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 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.
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; Sir Derek Morris, the Provost of Oriel College, Oxford, and the former British Ambassador to Italy. After the translation Mass, Princess Michael was shown round Cardinal Newman's Room and Chapel and visited Newman's library. 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.
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". 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.
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". This was untrue; the group consisted of an investment banker, a music mogul, a reporter, a television fashion correspondent, and a lawyer.
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 Worl 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".
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!"
Titles, styles, honors, and armsEdit
- 15 January 1945 – 14 September 1971: Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz
- 14 September 1971 – 30 June 1978: Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz, Mrs Thomas Troubridge
- 30 June 1978 –: Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent
In full: Her Royal Highness Baroness Marie-Christine Anne Agnes Hedwig Ida, Princess Michael of Kent
It is worth noting that although Princess Michael of Kent is styled as a princess, she is not a princess in her own right. According to Letters Patent issued by King George V, the style of British Princess may only be given to the daughter of a sovereign, the daughter of the Prince of Wales and the female children fathered from male line relating to the Monarch (For example, Princess Beatrice of York is styled as such due to her father being a prince and a male line relation from Elizabeth II). As Princess Michael married into the British Royal Family and is not a direct relation to the Queen or any other member, she only holds the title and rank of her husband, Prince Michael of Kent through marriage. If her husband were to be given a dukedom, she would then again take on his title and rank, therefore becoming a Duchess. An example of this is The Duchess of Gloucester. Upon marrying HRH Prince Richard of Gloucester in 1972, he did not at the time hold a dukedom, therefore his wife did not gain that style and was known as "Her Royal Highness Princess Richard of Gloucester". On 10 June 1974, two years after their marriage, Prince Richard inherited his father's dukedom, becoming The Duke of Gloucester. Automatically, his wife assumed the feminine form of his title and rank, becoming The Duchess of Gloucester.