Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Royal Profile: Princess Michael of Kent

Baroness Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz (aka Princess Michael of Kent) was born 15 January 1945, the daughter of Baron Günther Hubertus von Reibnitz (of German descent) and his Hungarian wife, Countess Maria Anna Carolina Franziska Walpurga Bernadette Szapáry von Muraszombath, Széchysziget und Szapár. She has a much older sister, Margarita, who was born almost 21 years to the day before her sister.

She has been married twice, firstly to English banker Thomas Troubridge, in the early 1970s. That marriage did not last. They were separated in 1973, and divorced by 1977, and the marriage was annulled by the Catholic church in 1978. A month after the annulment took place, she wed in a civil ceremony in Vienna, Austria to Prince Michael of Kent, who was the youngest son of Prince George, Duke of Kent. Upon marriage, she assumed the style and title of HRH Princess Michael of Kent, the female equivalent to her husband's title; because she was not born a princess, she is not entitled to be styled Princess Marie Christine. After receiving Pope John Paul II's permission, the couple later married in a Roman Catholic ceremony on 29 June 1983, at the Archbishop's House, London.

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have two children, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter:
  • Lord Frederick Windsor, born 6 April 1979; married, 12 September 2009, Sophie Winkleman
    • Miss Maud Elizabeth Daphne Mariana Windsor (2013) 
  • Lady Gabriella Windsor, born 23 April 1981 

She and her husband never received any money from the government to fund their public duties. Nevertheless, Prince and Princess Michael represented the Queen at the independence celebrations in Belize and at the coronation of King Mswati III of Swaziland. Her husband also supports a large number of different charities and organisations, and she supports him in this work. The Kent Family have had the use of a 5 bed, 5 reception room at Kensington Palace for many years. Prince Michael's cousin Queen Elizabeth, had been paying their £120,000 rent annually from her own private funds with the couple paying the nominal amount of £70 per week. However, in 2008, it was announced Prince and Princess Michael would be required to begin paying rent of £120,000 a year.

Princess Michael of Kent has attended several Catholic related events over the years, including Pope Benedict XVI’s state visit to the UK in 2010, where she was personally involved in the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman during the Pope’s visit.

Princess Michael's primary royal duty is to support her husband when he is called upon by his cousin to perform duties. However, on the occasion she represents the Firm on her own. She represented her 1st cousin in law, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh during the launching ceremony of the Green Pilgrimage Networkthat was organized by Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) in Italy in 2011.

Over the years she has led a variety of careers ranging from interior designer to author. The Princess is an accomplished author, having penned three books, Crowned in a Far Country: Eight Royal Brides, and Cupid and the King – Five Royal Paramours and The Serpent and The Moon.

Prior to her Royal Marriage, she was an interior decorator. In a report from The Observer’s Pendennis column in 2007, she began decorating again with her original company SZAPAR DESIGNS. She also served as President of Partridge Fine Art for a few years. In 2008, she became a consultant for the Swiss art gallery, Galerie Gmurzynska.

Like most royals, she has not led a life without controversies. She has made claims against her cousin in law, stating to an American fashion magazine that she had "more royal blood in her veins than any person to marry into the royal family since Prince Philip". She is also reported to have said she was "probably the first tall person to marry into the clan" (also true if males are discounted; Princess Michael stands about six feet (1.83 m) tall). The Queen reportedly has referred to her as "Our Val", a reference to the warrior-like Valkyries, and – sarcastically – as "a bit too grand for" the rest of the royal family. In 2004, she was in New York, NY USA, in a restaurant where she allegedly told a group of black diners to "get back to the colonies" when complaining about their noise. This was an accusation she denied, though it made headlines around the world. Her account of the story was that she remarked to one of her fellow dinner guests that she would be glad to go back to the colonies in order to escape her noisy neighbors. She later described her accusers as a "group of rappers". This was untrue; the group consisted of an investment banker, a music mogul, a reporter, a television fashion correspondent, and a lawyer. In 2005, she gave a series of interviews to promote her book, in one interview where she claimed that the British media were "excited" by Prince Harry's decision to wear a swastika for a fancy dress party because "of the ownership structure" of the British press. She claimed that the press would not have been so concerned had he worn a hammer and sickle, which "stands for Stalin and gulag and pogrom and devastation". In 2005, she was taken by News of the World after their reporter, Mazher Mahmood gained her confidence and claimed that she made numerous self-indulgent remarks, including referring to her 1st cousin 1x removed’s former wife as “bitter” and “nasty”. She also created a controversy when she heard of the research of Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth that seemed to indicate that rank among female baboons is hereditary, the Princess said, "I always knew that when people who aren’t like us claim that hereditary rank is not part of human nature, they must be wrong. Now you’ve given me evolutionary proof!"{Source}

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