In this piece, we take a brief look at The Duke and The Duchess of Kent.
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. He has held the Dukedom of Kent since his father died in 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 to die whilst in active service for 500 years.
Edward attended Ludlow Preparatory School, the same school Prince Harry attended. He then went on to Eton, and Le Rosey, an international boarding school in Switzerland. Later, he went on to 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 is President of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Edward is also President of The Scout Association, and patron of the British Computer Association and Stroke Association, showing his wide range of patronages.
The Duke suffered a mild stroke last year which saw him hospitalised though he still undertakes regular engagements. Most recently days before his 80th birthday, he undertook a two-day visit to six Welsh Lifeboat stations and the Holyhead Coastguard Coordination Centre.
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 had 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. Although she has given up teaching in recent years, she has continued to focus on her Future Talent Foundation. She also makes public appearances at formal royal occasions.
During a news programme in Hull, she noted: “I like melding into the background more than anything else and I think teaching is something I enjoy doing. You’re passing on a passion and that is what I think I’m good at.”
Photo Credits: Chatham House via Flickr and By Carfax2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons