Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy is the Queen’s first cousin and a working member of the British Royal Family. She is patron or president of over 100 organisations which reflect her wide-ranging interests, from the arts to healthcare. She also supports The Queen in her duties as Head of State, attending ceremonial occasions alongside other members of the Royal Family.
Born of the union between Prince George, Duke of Kent (the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary) and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel took her first breath at her parents’ family home, No. 3 Belgrave Square in London on 25 December 1936. The Princess was named after her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra and was sixth in line to the throne at the time of her birth, behind her cousins Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, her uncle the Duke of Gloucester, her father the Duke of Kent, and her elder brother Prince Edward of Kent. Princess Alexandra’s birth was the last to have the tradition of having the Home Secretary present to verify the birth of potential heirs to the throne. She was born two weeks after the abdication of her uncle, King Edward VIII.
The Princess was baptised in the Private Chapel of Buckingham Palace on 9 February 1937. Her godparents were her paternal uncle and aunt, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth; her grand-aunt Queen Maud of Norway; her maternal grandmother, Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark; her maternal aunt, Princess Olga of Yugoslavia; her paternal great-grand-aunt, the Princess Beatrice (the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria); her paternal grand-uncle, the Earl of Athlone; and her maternal uncle by marriage, Count Karl Theodor of Toerring-Jettenbach.
Her Royal Highness spent her childhood at her family’s country estate, Coppins in Buckinghamshire before moving to Badminton House with her paternal grandmother Queen Mary upon the onset of the Second World War. On 25 August 1942, Princess Alexandra’s father, the Duke of Kent was killed in an aeroplane crash near Caithness, Scotland, while serving in the Royal Air Force. Her Royal Highness attended Heathfield, an exclusive boarding school near Ascot, thus having the distinction of being the first British Princess to attend a boarding school. She later studied in Paris and was also trained at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
In her youth, the Princess served as a bridesmaid at many weddings, including the 1946 wedding of Captain Lord Brabourne and Lady Patricia Mountbatten. The following year, she served as a bridesmaid at the wedding of her paternal first cousin, the (then) Princess Elizabeth to her maternal first cousin once removed, The Duke of Edinburgh, on 20 November 1947 at Westminster Abbey. She was also a bridesmaid at the 1962 wedding of Infante Juan Carlos of Spain and her second cousin, Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark, who met at the wedding of her elder brother, the Duke of Kent in 1960.
On 24 April 1963, Princess Alexandra married the Hon. Angus James Bruce Ogilvy, the second son of the 12th Earl of Airlie and Lady Alexandra Coke, at Westminster Abbey. The wedding ceremony was attended by the Royal Family and was broadcast worldwide on television, watched by an estimated 200 million people. The bride wore a John Cavanagh wedding gown of Valenciennes lace, with a matching veil and a twenty-one-foot train. The Princess’ veil was anchored with the City of London diamond fringe tiara, previously worn by the bride’s mother, Princess Marina, on her wedding day. In 1988 the Hon. Angus Ogilvy was knighted, assuming the title of the Honourable Lord Ogilvy, a titled shared with his wife. Upon his marriage to Princess Alexandra, Angus Ogilvy declined The Queen’s offer to be created an earl upon marriage, so the couple’s children carry no titles.
Princess Alexandra and Sir Angus had two children, James and Marina, and four grandchildren. Their eldest child, James Robert Bruce Ogilvy was born 29 February 1964 in Thatched House Lodge in Surrey. He was shortly followed by his sister, Marina Victoria Alexandra Ogilvy who was born on 31 July 1966, also in Thatched House Lodge in Surrey.
Described as “one of the most popular members of the Royal Family,” Princess Alexandra has carried out an extensive list of engagements on behalf of The Queen since the late 1950s. Undertaking roughly 120 engagements each year, Princess Alexandra is one of the most active members of the Royal Family. Her Royal Highness is the patron of numerous organisations, such as the Florence Nightingale Foundation (which provides scholarships for nurses, midwives and health visitors to study), St Christopher’s Hospice, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service, MIND and the Mental Health Foundation. The Princess has been the patron of the Alzheimer’s Society since 1990 and has hosted The People Awards at St James’s Palace which helps to recognise the contribution of the people who work at and volunteer for Alzheimer’s Society.
Her Royal Highness (known for her work with the blind) is the patron of Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and Action for Blind People as well as being President of Sightsavers. She is the patron of the Chopin Society, the English National Opera, and the London Philharmonic Choir as well as many other organisations seeking to preserve historic locations and artefacts. Princess Alexandra also has links with a number of academic institutions and was Chancellor of the University of Lancaster from 1964-2004 and is currently an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow; of the Royal College of Anaesthetists; the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Physicians.
As well as taking part in engagements within the United Kingdom, Princess Alexandra has also represented The Queen abroad many times, undertaking overseas tours and visits to Canada, Italy, Oman, Hungary, Norway, Japan, Thailand, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and Australia. Her Royal Highness represented The Queen when Nigeria gained its independence on 1 October 1960 and opened the country’s first parliament on 3 October.
As of January 2016, Princess Alexandra is 50th in the line of succession.