Behind the Royal door: Princess Alexandra

10 June 2014 - 09:00am
Edited by Martin
Spotted an Error?


This edition of ‘Behind the Royal door’ will round up the Kent siblings with Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy.


Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel was born on Christmas Day 1936. She is the second child and only daughter of the late Duke and Duchess of Kent, and was sixth-in-line to the throne upon birth, and is currently 46th (though Louis Windsor is almost certainly to be baptised into the Catholic Church, as his parents are Catholic, and thus will be excluded from the succession putting Alexandra 45th). One of her middle names ‘Christabel’ comes from the fact she was born on Christmas Day, like her aunt, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, who held this middle name. 

She was baptised at Buckingham Palace’s private Chapel. Similarly to her brothers, her godparents consisted mostly of European Royals including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, The Queen of Norway; Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, Princess Olga of Yugoslavia, The Princess Beatrice and The Earl of Athlone. During the war, Alexandra stayed with Queen Mary in Badminton

Princess Alexandra was the first British Princess to go to an ordinary school attending Heathfield School, a boarding institution in Ascot. Like Prince Michael of Kent, her brother, she had a role in the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten, fulfilling her role as a bridesmaid; she was also a bridesmaid to the Spanish Juan-Carlos’s wedding to Princess Sophia. Alexandra attended a finishing school in Paris, studying French and music, and spent some time training as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The Princess got engaged to the second son of the Earl of Airlie, Angus Ogilvy in November 1962, Angus being six years her senior. The couple were married in April 1963 in Westminster Abbey, and the ceremony was broadcast on TV. Angus declined the offer of an Earldom upon marriage but received a Knighthood in 1988, becoming Sir Angus Ogilvy, hence Alexandra’s title, Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy. 


Ogilvy attended Eton and Oxford, and had a career in the City, before pursuing work within charity, including Leeds Castle and NCH Action for Children. The couple’s two children were born in 1964 and 1966 – James Robert Bruce and then Marina Victoria Alexandra. Princess Alexandra has four grandchildren.

Angus and Alexandra lived together at Thatched House Lodge in Richmond where they raised their family; The Queen gave her cousin a grace-and-favour apartment at St James’s Palace to use too. Sir Angus died in 2004 after a few years of ill-health, leaving Alexandra a widow at the age of 68.

After completing her nursing training, Alexandra began to undertake engagements full-time, which focuses around welfare and medical issues, like Alzheimer’s Society, British Red Cross, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service and MIND, and champions causes for the blind as patron and president of numerous charities for the cause.

The Princess is President of Alexandra Rose Day, raising money for hospitals through the sale of roses, which was began in 1912, in which she followed in the footsteps of Queen Alexandra who started the cause earlier this year by planting a tree a century after her grandmother. Her interests include music, swimming, skiing and riding, and upon occasion, The Queen’s cousin has acted as Counsellor of State when The Queen’s is abroad.

As a full-time working Royal, Princess Alexandra holds a number of military appointments, including Royal Honorary Colonel, of The Royal Yeomanry, Colonel-in-Chief, The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) and Honorary Air Commodore, of RAF Cottesmore. 

She also holds Royal appointments: Member of the Royal Family Order of King George VI, Member of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Royal Knight of the Order of the Garter and Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Olga and Sophia from Greek Royal family, reserved only for women.

Understandably, Princess Alexandra carries out less engagements as she advances in age, making The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s work even more remarkable, but she often slips under the media-radar when she does work, as an older, and what one might call, a minor, Royal. 

Picture: pgxphotos

Spotted an Error?

  • Ricky

    The article says that Princess Alexandra is a “Royal Knight of the Order of the Garter.” I thought that ladies who are members of that order were known as “Ladies of the Garter,” and not “Knights.”

    I read this in another article on Royal Central, about the Queen leading the ceremony this year. Could someone clear this up for me?

    • Royal Central

      As a supernumerary member of the Order of the Garter, Princess Alexandra is a knight of the order rather than a lady – supernumerary membership does not take into account gender as there are only ‘Royal Knights Companion’.

      The Queen always leads the ceremony as Sovereign of the Order.

  • Tim

    You missed out Princess Alexandra’s duties abroad. She represented The Queen at a number of independence ceremonies, I seem to recall, and conducted a Royal Tour of Australia.

    In those early years of HM’s reign when She was a young mother with fewer other members around to enlist the services of, Princess Alexandra was an invaluable help. It’s a great shame we now seem to have all but forgotten her.

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