Katharine, The Duchess of Kent

The Duchess of Kent
The Duchess of Kent
British Royal Family

The Duchess of Kent, (Katharine Lucy Mary Windsor, 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 and cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Duchess of Kent gained attention for her conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1994, the first senior royal 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.

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 in 2002, she voluntarily gave up the style of Royal Highness, though she continues to be styled as such in the Court Circular. She also has expressed a preference for being known formally as Katharine, Duchess of Kent, a style usually reserved for divorced peeresses.

Early life

Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley was born at Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire, and was the only daughter of Sir William Arthrington Worsley, 4th Bt., and his wife, Joyce Morgan, daughter of Sir John Brunner, the founder of Brunner Mond, which later became ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries).

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 taught at a kindergarten in London, before going on to Oxford to study 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:

The couple also had a stillborn child in 1977, a loss that caused the Duchess to fall into a state of severe depression, which she has spoken about publicly.

Roman Catholicism

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!"

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, and her grandson, Baron Downpatrick, have also become Catholics.

Later years

Styles of
The Duchess of Kent
Reference style Her Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Ma'am

The Duchess of Kent decided to relinquish her royal style in 2002 and reduce the amount of royal duties she carries out. She became the second person in the royal family to do so, the first being Princess Patricia of Connaught, who (for wish of having a closer title to that of her husband, The Hon. Sir Alexander Ramsay) relinquished her princely title and the style Her Royal Highness, and adopted the style Lady Patricia Ramsay, upon marriage. Since then she has been informally known as Katharine Kent. Her formal style remains HRH The Duchess of Kent however, and this is how she is styled in the Court Circular. However, when she made a formal appearance to hand out awards at the BBC's Young Musician of the Year competition in 2002, she asked the organizers to introduce her as "Katharine, Duchess of Kent."

In line with her less formal role, 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 Armstrong, whose record, Thank You, she chose as one of her favourite pieces of music.

The Duchess has been dogged by press reports that she and her husband have lived apart for many years and that they intend to divorce; however, the divorce reports have not been substantiated. 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.

As she told the BBC in 2004, when asked to comment on rumors about her being depressed, "Aren't we all? We all get slightly low periods in our lives, don't we?" In 1998, she told an interviewer about her lack of confidence. "I can still be very shy walking into a room full of strangers," she said. "I know how to do it, but I have never gained confidence. It is one of the reasons I am always trying to boost other people's self-esteem – because I know what it's like not to have it."

Titles and honours

Shorthand titles

  • Miss Katharine Worsley (22 February 19338 June 1961)
  • Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent (8 June 19619 June 1977)
  • Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent, GCVO (9 June 1977 —)
  • Informally,
    • Katharine, Duchess of Kent (2002 - present)
    • Katharine Kent (1990s-present)


Honorary military appointments

Preceded by:
Birgitte, The Duchess of Gloucester
Order of precedence in England and Wales Succeeded by:
Princess Michael of Kent
Preceded by:
Mary, Princess Royal
Chancellor of the University of Leeds
1965 – 1998
Succeeded by:
Melvyn Bragg

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