Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Gloucesters - the unsung heros of the Royal Family

A plane crash in August 1972 changed the life of HRH Prince Richard of Gloucester. As the second and younger son of HRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince Richard expected to live a largely private life. As a younger son of a younger son of a monarch (George V), Prince Richard was not expected to take on royal duties as a career. No civil list allocations. Born in 1944, Prince Richard spent his early life in Australia with his parents and his older brother, Prince William, where the Duke of Gloucester of Governer General. At the time of his birth, Prince Richard was 5th in line to the British throne after Princess Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, The Duke of Gloucester and Prince William).
Prince Richard was baptised at the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on October 20, 1944. His godparents were Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone (granddaughter of Queen Victoria), the 2nd Marquess of Cambridge (nephew of Queen Mary), Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein (another granddaughter of Victoria), Lady Sybil Phipps (sister of the Duchess of Gloucester, who was born Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott), Queen Elizabeth (consort of George VI and Sir Harold Alexander. Lady May Abel Smith stood as proxy at the baptism for her mother, Princess Alice, who was in Canada with her husband, the Earl of Athlone, who was the Governor-General of Canada. Lady Alexander represented her husband, who was unable to attend the ceremony.

In 1963, he entered Madgalene College at Cambridge University, where he studied architecture. He completed three years of the five-year degree program, leaving Oxford in 1966. He did a year's practical experience before returning to Cambridge to complete the degree program. He received his degree in architecture in 1969, and then went to work for a London architecture firm.
But on August 28, 1972, Prince William of Gloucester was killed in a plane crash. Prince Richard of Gloucester now became the heir apparent to his father's ducal title. He resigned his position in the architectural firm and began to take on more royal duties and the management of the family estate, Barnwell Manor.
Two months before his death, Prince William was his brother's best man when Prince Richard married the Danish-born Birgitte van Deurs. In June 1974, the Duke of Gloucester died, and Richard succeeded to the titles. He and Birgitte, who live in a grace-and-favour apartment at Kensington Palace, carry out numerous royal engagements each year on behalf of the Queen. These include overseas and military engagements.
The couple's three children, Alexander, Earl of Ulster, and the Ladies Davina and Rose, do not carry out official engagements and live largely private lives.
The Gloucester line has been largely free from scandal and the prying eyes of the tabloid press. The couple have been happily married for 36 years, and have one grandchild - Xan (Lord Culloden), who is the son of Earl and Countess of Ulster. Lord Ulster, who is a commissioned officer in the King's Royal Hussars, served in Kosovo and was believed to be serving in Iraq at the same time his cousin, Prince Harry of Wales, was in Afghanistan. Lady Davina is married to a Maori, Gary Lewis, and Lady Rose will be married this coming weekend to George Gilman.
The Countess of Ulster is a pediatrician, and is known professionally as Dr. Booth (her maiden name).
For more information about this self-effacing couple, see their official biographies
TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester are certainly two of the most dedicated members of the Royal Family. They are the unsung heroes of the Royal Family,


cabri said...

Wonderful text Marlene!!!
I like the title "unsong heroes"... well choosen. And the Gloucester came a long way: just see the wedding photos - two little shy grey mouses - and now: an legeant and sophisticated lady and he a perfect gentleman. But no great public appeal. Not even one biography on them.
best regards

Marlene Koenig said...

thanks! and thank you, too, for reading my blog!

glamah16 said...

Thanks for this post. I was always fascinated in the history of this branch of the family. I first heard about Prince William after reading an auto biography of Elizabeth of Toro, and Africain princess.