In connection with the imminent wedding of Princess Eugenie’s and Jack Brooksbank, we take a look at other princesses who have married commoners.
Princess Alexandra is the daughter of Prince George, Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark and thus a cousin of The Queen. She met her future husband Angus Ogilvy – a British businessman-during a ball at Luton Hoo in 1955. Not much is known about their dating years but on 19 November 1962, Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy.
Ogilvy was the second son of David Ogilvy, the 12th Earl of Airlie and Lady Alexandra Coke and his family had many close ties to the British Royal Family. Indeed, his grandmother Mabell Ogilvy, Countess of Airlie, was a Lady-In-Waiting to Queen Mary, his father was a Lord-In-Waiting to King George VI and a Lord Chamberlain to The Queen Mother. After his wedding to Princess Alexandra, the connection between his family and the British Royal Family continued as his elder brother David was a Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth II from 1984 to 1997 and David’s wife Virginia has been a Lady-In-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth since 1973 and has accompanied her on many trips.
Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy married in a grand service at Westminster Abbey on 24 April 1963 and was attended by members of the British Royal Family as well as many foreign royals. Some of those were King Olav V of Norway, Queen Frederica of Greece, Queen Victoria-Eugenie of Spain, Queen Helen of Romania, Queen Louise of Sweden, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, the then-Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark and Princess Olga of Yugoslavia, her godmother. The service was broadcasted worldwide and is said to have been watched by around 200 million people.
On the day of her wedding, the bride left Kensington Palace for Westminster Abbey in a Rolls Royce accompanied by her older brother the Duke of Kent. It’s him who gave Princess Alexandra away at the altar because their father had died in 1942 while on active duty with the Royal Air Force.
Princess Alexandra chose British designer John Cavanagh to create her wedding gown just like her sister-in-law the Duchess of Kent two years before. She continued with the sentimental choices in her wedding gown by asking the designer to use a piece of Valenciennes lace from her late grandmother Princess Nicholas of Greece.
Despite her request to have a simple gown, she asked John Cavanagh to copy the pattern of the veil of Lady Patricia Ramsey (formerly Princess Patricia of Connaught who also married a commoner) on the wedding gown. She chose to wear the City of London fringe tiara which is the tiara her mother Princess Marina wore on her own wedding day.
Princess Alexandra had six young bridesmaids in addition to her Chief Bridesmaid, the then 13-years-old Princess Anne. The Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey conducted the service. After the service, the newlywed couple departed Westminster Abbey for their wedding breakfast at St James’ Palace in the Glass Coach.
Upon the wedding, Queen Elizabeth offered an earldom to Angus Ogilvy but he refused. He also refused to have an apartment in one of the royal palaces. After their wedding, Princess Alexandra became Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Mrs Angus Ogilvy and their two children James (1964) and Marina (1966) carry no titles. While Princess Alexandra was still a working member of the royal family, Angus Ogilvy decided to continue his career as a businessman after the wedding, but he was involved in several scandals during the 1970s, so he decided to end his career and focus on charity work instead.
He accompanied Princess Alexandra on several engagements and abroad trips as well as traditional family events such as Ascot, the Garter Service, and Jubilee celebrations. For his commitment to charity work and his support of the monarchy, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1988 and became The Honourable Sir Angus Ogilvy and Princess Alexandra became Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy. Sir Ogilvy was also made a Privy Counsellor by The Queen in 1997.
The Right Honourable Sir Angus Ogilvy was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2000 and retired from public engagements although he did take part in several family events until 2004. He died on 26 December 2004 in London. His funeral took place on 5 January 2005 at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, and he was laid to rest at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore House in Windsor. To this day, Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy is still a very active working member of the royal family.