Thursday, June 20, 2013

Royal Profile: Birgitte, The Duchess of Gloucester

Birgitte, The Duchess of Gloucester was born 20 June 1946, the younger daughter of Asger Preben Knud Wissing Henriksen, and his wife, Vivian van Deurs {Source}.

She spent most of her life in Denmark. She was educated in Denmark before attending finishing schools in Switzerland and England {Source}. While she was attending finishing school in Cambridge, she met Prince Richard of Gloucester, who was also studying in Cambridge at the time {Source}. After Cambridge, she returned to Denmark to take a three-year course in Commercial and Economic Studies {Source}. In 1971, she returned to England, this time to work as a secretary at the Royal Danish Embassy {Source}.

A year after she returned to England to work at the Danish embassy, her engagement to Prince Richard of Cloucester was announced in February 1972 {Source}. They were married five months later on 8 July 1972 {Source}. At that time, she gained the title Her Royal Highness Princess Richard of Gloucester.  When Prince Richard's brother Prince William died in 1972 without any descendants of his own, followed by his father in 1974, Prince Richard gained the title Duke of Gloucester, thus making Birgitte, The Duchess of Gloucester{Source}. Together, they have three children, three children-in-law,  and six grandchildren, who are:
  • Alexander Windsor,Earl of Ulster (1974) married to Claire Alexandra Windsor, Countess of Ulster
    • Xan Windsor, Lord Culloden (2007) 
    • Lady Cosima Windsor (2010) 
  • Lady Davina Lewis (1977) married to Gary Christie Lewis
    • Tāne Lewis (2012)
    • Senna Lewis (2010) 
  • Lady Rose Gilman (1980) married to George Gilman
    • Rufus Gilman (2012)
    • Lyla Gilman (2010)

Over the years, The Duchess of Gloucester has taken on many duties on behalf of The Duke of Gloucester's cousin{Source}. Along side her husband, she has taken overseas trips to{Source}:
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • China
  • Denmark
  • Gibraltar
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel, Japan
  • Luxembourg
  • Mexico
  • Nepal
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • The Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • The Soloman Islands
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Tonga
  • Tunisia
  • United States of America

The Duchess has also traveled overseas in support of her own Patronages and military units, including a visit to Iraq in December 2008{Source}.

Some of her patronages include:
The Duchess takes pride in her work with her charities. In her own words The Duchess has said{Source}:
"As members of the Royal Family and in our public life, The Duke and I have the huge privilege of continuously meeting people greatly committed to their work with charitable causes - many individuals being volunteers, doing all kinds of good works, giving of their time, talents and expertise. Some high-powered and greatly skilled, others willing to do the most mundane but essential tasks - all of them enjoying being part of a team supporting a noble cause. It is inspiring and immensely rewarding meeting these volunteers on my varying engagements in London and throughout the country. I meet volunteers in schools, often for children with special needs, medical research projects, hospices, homes for older and frail people, and also in community initiatives for sport, music and the conservation of the Arts. I see so many wonderful places, and it is the people involved who make them so.
Charity work in Great Britain is a tradition. I don’t think I have a friend who has not involved him or herself somehow or other. How far back this tradition goes, I am not sure- it is one of the major aspects which makes me very proud to be British.
There is another facet to voluntary work which I think is very important, and that is the sense of fulfilment and reward in the knowledge of the value of your contribution as a volunteer. In this country there is a firmly grounded tradition, and a freedom, to help one’s fellow men in many different forms, and I think we should be proud of that and grateful for it also."
Queen Elizabeth II must've been fairly fond of her new cousin-in-law as she bestowed awards on her rather quickly {Source}
  • The Duchess of Gloucester received the Family Order from The Queen (1973)
  • She was made a Dame of Justice of the Order of St John (1974)
  • She was created Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) (1989)

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