Prince Michael of Kent

Prince Michael of Kent
Prince Michael of Kent

Prince Michael of Kent, GCVO (Michael George Charles Franklin Windsor)(born July 4, 1942) is a member of the British Royal Family, a grandson of King George V.

Prince Michael of Kent does not regularly carry out royal duties on behalf of his cousin, Queen Elizabeth II. Instead, he manages his own consultancy business, and undertakes various commercial work around the world. He has also presented some television documentaries on the royal families of Europe. He is named after the short-reigning last Tsar of Russia, Michael Alexandrovich, to whom he is related.

Early life

British Royal Family

Prince Michael of Kent was born on July 4, 1942, at Iver, Buckinghamshire. His father was The Prince George, Duke of Kent, the fourth eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary. His mother was The Duchess of Kent (née Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark), a daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia. As a grandchild of a British sovereign, he was styled as a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with the prefix His Royal Highness, thus styled His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent.

At his christening on 4 August 1942, one of his godparents was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, at that time the President of the United States of America, the others being King George II of Greece, King Haakon VII of Norway, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Lady Patricia Ramsay, The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, The Crown Princess of Greece and The Duke of Gloucester. His father, the Duke of Kent, was killed in an aeroplane crash near Caithness, Scotland on August 25, 1942, a few weeks after his christening.

Education and military service

Educated at Sunningdale School and Eton College, Prince Michael entered the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in January 1961 where he was commissioned into the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) in 1963. He saw service in Germany, Hong Kong and Cyprus, where his squadron formed part of the UN peacekeeping force in 1971. Subsequent tours of duty, during a military career that spanned twenty years, included a number of appointments on the Defence Intelligence Staff. He retired from the army with the rank of Major in 1981.

In 1994, Prince Michael was made Honorary Commodore of the Royal Naval Reserve and in 2002 he was made Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Benson. In addition, Prince Michael is President of SSAFA (Soldiers', Sailors' & Airmen's Families' Association) Forces Help and President of the Royal Patriotic Fund. He is also Colonel-in-Chief of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment in Canada.

Career

Royal duties

As the third child of King George V's fourth son, it was not expected that Prince Michael of Kent would undertake royal and official duties. Prince Michael has never received a parliamentary annuity or an allowance from the Privy Purse. Despite this, both his elder brother, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and his sister Princess Alexandra, carry out official royal duties and receive parliamentary annuities. As a member of the Royal Family however, the Prince does receive VIP treatment wherever he goes. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office arrange for the Prince to receive VIP welcomes whenever he travels abroad, and he has use of British Embassy staff when required. The Prince was also given a grace and favour apartment at Kensington Palace upon his marriage in 1978.

Nevertheless, Prince Michael of Kent has represented the Queen at state funerals in India, Cyprus and Swaziland and, with his wife, 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 of Kent also supports a large number of different charities and organisations. He is Commonwealth President of the Royal Life Saving Society.

His patronages include:

Commercial

Given that the Prince does not receive any income from his royal duties, he has the Queen's permission to earn a living from commercial enterprise. As such Prince Michael manages his own consultancy business, and undertakes business throughout the world. He is also a qualified interpreter of Russian.

Marriage

Styles of
Prince Michael of Kent
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir

On June 30, 1978, Prince Michael was married at a civil ceremony at the Rathaus, Vienna, Austria, to Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz (born on January 15, 1945), the only child of the now deceased Silesian nobleman Baron Gunther Hubertus von Reibnitz, and his also deceased Hungarian-born ex-wife, Maria Anna Carolina Franziska Walpurga Bernadette, Countess von Szapáry von Muraszombath, Széchysziget und Szapár.

The Kents' marriage was controversial because the Baroness was not only a Roman Catholic, but also a divorcée. She was previously married to banker Thomas Troubridge; they separated in 1973, divorced in 1977, and had their marriage annulled a year later, two months before her marriage to Prince Michael. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, which governs the laws of the succession to the British throne, Prince Michael forfeited his place in the line of succession through marriage to a Roman Catholic. [1]

However, his wife became and remains a Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is styled Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent (not Princess Marie-Christine since she is not a princess in her own right, but only by right of marriage). Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have two children, both of whom remain in line to the throne because they are not Roman Catholics (they have been raised as members of the Church of England):

Controversy

Arms of Prince Michael of Kent
Arms of Prince Michael of Kent

Both Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have received negative news stories in the media in the past. These have centred on accusations that the couple exploit their royal status for commercial gain. When it was revealed that the couple only pay a rent of £69 per week (although other sources state the figure as £76) for the use of their apartments at Kensington Palace, a committee of MPs demanded they be evicted. [2] Critics paid little attention to the fact that this arrangement reflects the royal duties which the couple undertake, without parliamentary annuity.

Titles and honours

Title

Honours

Honorary military appointments

  • Honourary Commodore, Royal Naval Reserve
  • Colonel-in-Chief, The Essex and Kent Scottish
  • Honourary Rear Admiral, Royal Naval Reserve

Notes and references

  1. ^ Picknett, Lynn, Prince, Clive, Prior, Stephen & Brydon, Robert (2002). War of the Windsors: A Century of Unconstitutional Monarchy, p. 271. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-631-3.
  2. ^ Picknett, Prince, Prior & Brydon, p. 311.

 

Preceded by:
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
Order of precedence in England and Wales
Gentlemen
Succeeded by:
Rowan Williams
Order of precedence in Scotland Succeeded by:
Lord-Lieutenant
Order of precedence in Northern Ireland Succeeded by:
Robin Eames

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