Behind the Royal door: The Duke and Duchess of Kent

22 May 2014 - 11:00am
Edited by Chloe Howard
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We move behind the Royal door Wren Cottage, where another of The Queen’s cousins lives: The Duke of Kent and his wife, The Duchess.

Edward George Nicholas Paul Patrick was born in 1935, the first born of Prince George, and Princess Marina, daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece; this makes The Duke first cousin to both The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh!


His siblings are Prince Michael of Kent, and Princess Alexandra, Lady Ogilvy, and he has held the Dukedom of Kent since his father died during a flying accident on active service in 1942, at the age of just 6; Prince George’s death was the first member of the Royal Family on active service for 500 years.

Edward attended Ludlow Prepatory School, the same that Prince Harry also attended, and then Eton, and Le Rosey, an international boarding school in Switzerland. After this he enrolled at Sandhurst, where he won the Sir James Moncrieff Grierson prize for foreign languages, qualifying as a French interpreter.

Katharine, was born in 1933, the youngest child and only daughter of Sir William Worsley, and grew up near York at the Worsley family home, which has been the family seat for centuries. She studied music at Oxford, having been a talented child learning the piano, violin and organ, which she continues to play today.

Prince Edward met Katharine while stationed near Richmond in 1956; the couple got engaged in 1961 and they married in York Minster, with Princess Anne one of Katharine’s bridesmaids. The couple live at Wren Cottage, Kensington Palace, and have three children: George, Earl of St Andrews, Lady Helen Taylor, Lord Nicholas Windsor, born in 1962, 1964 and 1970 respectively. None of their children, nor their eight grandchildren, carry out official duties.


In 1994, The Duchess sparked controversy by converting to Catholicism; she was the first senior Royal to do so in centuries. The Duke did not lose his place in the succession because the Act of Settlement 1701 does not mention anything about marrying a Protestant who then converts to Catholicism. Lord Nicholas Windsor, the couple’s youngest son, has been a Catholic since his mother converted, and so his children are also being raised in the faith.

In 2004, Katharine founded a charity called Future Talent, which aims to give every child an equal opportunity to excel in music. Many of her other patronages are music-based, such Queensland Conservatorium, but not all; The Duchess was on the board for Macmillan Cancer Relief. A children’s hospital was opened in Hong Kong in 1970, named after The Duchess of Kent. 

The Duke was President of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, with himself or his wife frequently handing out trophies; from he 1976 was Vice-Chairman of British Trade International, now UK Trade and Investment. Edward is also President of The Scout Association, and patron of the British Computer Association and Stroke Association, showing his wide range of patronages.

Due to their advancing age, the couple are not often seen; The Duke suffered a mild stroke last year which saw him hospitalised,  though he still undertakes regular engagements, visiting coast guards a few weeks ago. Katharine, however, is rarely seen in public now; for many Royal watchers, it was a surprise to see her at The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011. It is reported The Duchess has written to the Queen asking to retire from public duties; since 2002 Katharine has not used the title HRH, preferring to be called ‘Katharine Kent’. For a decade, she had been teaching music incognito at a school in Hull, known as Mrs Kent, and she professes a liking for rap music.

photo credit: CWGC via photopin cc

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