Friday, May 17, 2019

A Royal Bride: Lady Gabriella Windsor

 It was on April 23, 1981, at the Lindo Wing, St. Mary's Paddington where HRH Princess Michael of Kent gave birth to her second child, a daughter.   The infant was born five hours after the 36-year-old Princess was driven to the hospital from her Kensington Palace.

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 "Mother and child are doing very well and we are all up in the clouds about it." stated the official Kensington Palace announcement.  Prince Michael of Kent was present for the birth.

The couple's first child, Lord Frederick Windsor, was born on April 6, 1979, also at the Lindo Wing.

The names were announced several days after the birth:  Gabriella Marina Alexandra Ophelia.  The second and third names were in honor of the baby's paternal grandmother,  HRH  Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, a princess of Greece and Denmark by birth, and her paternal aunt, HRH Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy.  Ophelia was chosen as Gabriella was born on William Shakespeare's birthday.

The new baby title was  Lady Gabriella Windsor.  This was due to George V's 1917 Letters Patent regarding styles and titles for members of the royal family.  Ella, as the family called her, was a great-grandchild of the sovereign in the male line.  This meant that she would be styled as the daughter of a duke.   Her older brother has the style of a younger son of a duke, as Prince Michael does not have a peerage for his son to inherit -- thus no courtesy title, such an earldom, for his eldest son.

Gabriella was baptized at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, on June 8.  Her godparents were the King of the Hellenes, the Prince of Windisch-Graetz, Miss Marina Ogilvy (daughter of Princess Alexandra), the Marchioness of Douro (now the Duchess of Wellington), and Lady Elizabeth Shakerley.

The Prince of Windisch-Graetz is married to Archduchess Sophie of Austria, whose mother, Helen, born Countess Helen of Toerring-Jettenbach, is Prince Michael's first cousin.

Lady Ella and her brother grew up at the family's London residence at Kensington Palace and at Nether Lypiatt, in Gloucestershire, largely out of the public eye, apart from appearing on the balcony at Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour and other events.

The first years of her education were spent at Queen's Gate School, near Kensington Palace.

On July 30, 1988,  Ella, then only 7-years-old, was one of the bridal attendants at the wedding of her first cousin, James Ogilvy, to Julia Rawlinson.

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When Lady Ella was 10, she broke her leg during a school skiing trip to  Davos.  Princess Michael was unable to fly to Switzerland as she was recuperating at Nether Lypiatt after breaking her nose in a fall during the Beaufort Hunt.   It was left to Prince Michael who flew to Switzerland to be with his daughter, who was described as "brave."

A hit-and-run skier crashed into Lady Ella on December 30, 1991, while she was skiing with her school friends.  He was caught a few days later.

She underwent an operation, which was described as a "great success."

Speaking in her private hospital room on January 2, 1992, Lady Gabriella said: "I'm very happy this morning.  I have lots of friends visiting me and my daddy is coming to visit me later today. I understand it is the femur that is broken.  I know I have three or four pins in the bone."

As she was talking, she noticed a sledge outside her hospital window.  "Oh look, there is a sledge outside being pulled by a horse.  Wouldn't it be fun if we could go on the sledge?"

She was released from the hospital in Davos 11 days after her surgery.    Her doctor offered a challenge, telling her to get well enough so she could walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid at her cousin, Lady Helen's wedding.

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Accompanied by several nurses, Lady Ella was flown by private jet to RAF Northolt in West London, where she was met by her 12-year-old brother, Lord Frederick.  They were driven back to Kensington Palace.

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Lady Ella recovered in time to take her place as one of Lady Helen's bridesmaids on July 18 at St. George's Chapel.

The young Lady Ella would soon become a rebel.   In September 1993, she became a pupil at the exclusive Downe House boarding school near Newbury in Berkshire.  A year later, she was suspended for a week from school as she and two girlfriends were caught with nearly 20 cigarette packets.  Lady Ella, then only 13 years old, was described by The Sun, as a "regular smoker."  She and her friend admitted to breaking school rules.

The headmistress, Susan Cameron, telephoned Prince and Princess Michael of Kent at their home.  "They are obviously perturbed their daughter has been naughty but are very supportive  that she should be punished."

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She added: "Ella is a very lively girl and most girls of her age think it is fun to break a few rules now and then.  I suspended her as I consider it serious if pupils leave without permission because they are in our care and we are responsible for them."

Ella was said to be "terrified" about her parents' reaction.  Emma Fellowes, who was Princess Michael's lady-in-waiting, told reporters that the Prince and Princess would be talking to their daughter about the "perils of smoking."
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"Yes of course. Her parents are like any others.  They love their daughter very much and they are cross that she has broken the rules."

By sixteen, Lady Ella had become a stunner.  In just over two years, according to a Hello profile, the young woman had "undergone a recent transformation from daredevil to dazzler,"  and caught the attention of photographers who noticed her on the Buckingham Palace balcony for the Trooping the Colour.

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Two years later, on the occasion of her 18th birthday, new photos were released.

Princess Michael described her daughter as "determined but has the sweetest nature."  Prince Michael added: "I've not been tougher on her because of who she is and I've not been more lenient either.  I just think over-indulged, spoilt children are insufferable and I won't have mine behaving like that.  Good manners are for everybody."

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At the time,  Ella was preparing for her A levels in English, French, and Spanish at Downe House.  She planned to spend her gap year "trying to improve her Spanish" spending time in Madrid and then traveling around Argentina.

"I intend to develop my Spanish from the British schoolroom variety to fluency. I love the culture, the people, and the language."

It was also announced that she would attend Brown University in Rhode Island.  Ella believed that an American university would offer more opportunities.

She enjoyed the theater and arts at Downe School, and was said to have "matured into a thoughtful young lady."

Her 18th birthday photos were taken by noted photographer, Sir Geoffrey Shakerley, who was married to Lady Elizabeth Anson, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, the noted party planner, and one of Ella's godmothers.

Ella was also described as the Royals' "best-kept secret."  Only 18, but tall and slender, the young woman caught attention when she and her mother attended the wedding of Princess Irina of Hesse to Count Alexander von Glauchau-Schönburg.  The bride was a great-niece of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as well as a cousin Princess Michael as their mothers,  were both were members of the Hungarian noble family, Szapary. 

Unlike other 18-year-old girls embarking on an entrance into society, Ella, according to a profile by Valentine Low in the Evening Standard, was already one of London's It Girls -- "from her figure-hugging dress to her absurd hairpiece --not forgetting the glass of champagne permanently stapled to her hand."

Ella was was also the subject of a Tatler cover story.  She said she would attend Brown University in August 2000.  "I chose an American university because the system is so much broader than Britain's.  I won't have to decide what I'm going to study until I get there."

She had already been to the US, to Disneyland when she was 11, but also "swamp touring in Louisiana," and visiting Florida and the Bahamas.  She looked forward to seeing New York City for the first time, only two hours from Brown.
"I've heard it is amazing."

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Ella told Tatler that she did not know what she planned to do when she started university, although "one ambition was to learn Russian.  My father speaks it fluently."

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In October 1999, she arrived in Madrid to spend three months at Sotheby's, where she would be able to perfect her Spanish.   Largely due to her good looks and her connections, the Spanish media drooled with the possibility that the 18-year-old young woman would so be seen with the Prince of Asturias, the 31-year-old heir to the Spanish throne.    During her time in Madrid,  Lady Gabriella was often seen at social events, thus adding to the speculation of a possible romance.     In July,  Ella and Felipe were guests at the wedding of their mutual cousin,  Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark.

The Spanish media would soon need to move onto another attractive young as Ella spent only three months in Madrid before traveling to Argentina.   In the summer of 2000, she was back home in England, when the Daily Mail's Richard Kay broke the story that Ella was having a romance with a German aristocrat, Count "Iglaz" zu Toerring-Jettenbach, who according to Kay, was in Madrid to perfect his Spanish.  He was described as being in his early 20s.     They were allegedly introduced at a party attended by the Prince of Asturias.

A "family friend" told Kay that  Ella and Iglaz's  families were old friends so it was hardly surprising that the two hit it off."    They were said to be "inseparable."

I remember when this story was published I could not stop laughing because Kay could barely get a fact right.   Count Ignaz (not Iglaz) and Ella did not have a romance.  He was 34 years old and the son and heir of Hans Veit, Count of Toerring-Jettenbach.   The two families are close because Hans Veit and  Prince Michael are first cousins.  Their mothers were sisters.

Count Ignaz's family in Munich and Prince and Princess Michael in London had no comment on a romance that never was.

In August 2000, Ella headed to Brown University for four years.  A year later, on the occasion of her 21st birthday, new photos taken by John Swannell for Vogue, established Lady Ella as a charming and beautiful young woman.   Her 21st birthday party took place only hours after attending the Queen Mother's lying-in-state at Westminster Abbey.

Ella was said to be "mortified" for upsetting the Queen.   She and her older brother are not particularly close to senior members of the Royal family.  Although Prince William and Prince Harry lived across the courtyard from Ella and her brother,  the cousins were never close, even though they are in the same age group.

In November 2002,  Lady Ella's article about traveling to Havana for a week was published in Tatler.  She said she started her journey "towards  Fidel's fiefdom reading books on him and Che Guevara, interspersed with less scholarly works on Havana's famous nightlife."

She also took time out from her studies, spending time as an editorial assistant at Vanity Fair.  "I love magazines, but as for a career, we'll just see how it goes," she told the Mail on Sunday.

An American university education proved to be the right decision for Gabriella, who spent nine years at boarding school.  She spoke to the Sunday Times in February 2002 about her choice.  "My friends were surprised at my decision to leave England. But my mother, Princess Michael of Kent, thought it the best way to develop my academic interests.  Being overseas, she thought, would also allow me more privately."

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She talked about having to drink in private for her first two years at Brown, an Ivy League university, as the drinking age is 21 in the United States.  She was a keen observer of the fraternities.  "Nowhere is the behavior more infantile than the fraternity houses. Populated by heaving hulks and fleshy sports jocks, their members see the weeks after a new intake of students as their prime hunting period."

Ella also noted that at Brown there "is a member of teaching staff for every seven students in my department at Brown," adding that "academically and socially, studying in the United States broadened my mind."

In June, Ella accompanied her parents and her brother to St. Petersburg to attend the White Nights ball.  She returned to Brown to take part in a summer literary seminar program.

With her proud parents watching from the audience, Lady Gabriella graduated from Brown in May 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Literature.

It was while she was at Brown that she met Aatish Taheer, a mixed-race Sikh Indian, who was a student at Amherst University in Massachusetts.  He was described as her first "serious" boyfriend.  It was at Amherst where Aatish worked part-time as a "sexual health educator." He dressed up as Captain Condom, instructing first-year students on how to use prophylactics.

Katie Nicholl wrote about the couple in the Mail on Sunday.  She said that Gabriella's parents, "both staunch Catholics," were "relaxed and happy" about their daughter's relationship. [It appears that Katie never corrected her article. Prince Michael has always been Anglican. ]

Ella was sad to be "madly in love" with Aatish, whose wealthy family lived in Bombay.  His mother, Tavleen Singh, is a noted Indian writer, a member of the "Sikh aristocracy," and his father Salman Taseer, owned several newspapers in Pakistan.

One of Gabriella's friends said "she and Aatish were very well suited.  Ella loves anyone with a sharp mind. By all accounts, Aatish is very intelligent and they have a lot in common. She is really happy and keeps saying she thinks she has met the one."

Another friend told the Telegraph that Ella's mother was "keen" on Aatish, but Prince Michael had urged his daughter to "cool off."

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By the fall of 2004, there were reports that the couple would marry and move to India.  Aatish was working for Time magazine in London but was determined to go back to India.  "I'm learning so much working on Time, which is great. But I will be heading back to India to pursue my career," he told the Telegraph.

In July 2005,  Hello magazine had an exclusive interview with Lady Gabriella and her boyfriend at Nether Lypiatt.   She said: "It is important in a relationship to take on certain challenges and travelling together is a huge challenge."

Religion was one of the topics discussed in the interview.

"If things were to develop further with Aatish and myself, religion would not be an issue.  Aatish does not practice any religion -- although he would be Muslim through his father.   I was brought up as a Protestant, but I feel similarly to Aatish."

She noted that she was not brought up to "grand or special.  I was brought up to recognize that we were privileged to be a part of this family and to be grateful for that."

"To live in a modern context, working among one's peers, but always conscious of the sense of obligation that lies at the heart of the family.  Prince William is clearly moving in that direction."

"Aatish and I are aware of how young we are and there is no rush.  There are still so many things we want to do."

By the time the interview took place, Nether Lypiatt was being offered for sale, as Prince and Princess Michael had serious debts to pay off

Although there were no marriage plans to report, Ella did say: "I have always imagined I would marry in cream lace, but I don't have a set image on how my wedding day should be."

In November 2005, the Michaels bought a £450,000 three bedrooms 2 bathroom apartment on Portobello Road for their daughter.

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The couple decided to see the world, traveling together, backpacking around the world as a gap year before settling down to a career.  The travel plans were announced in July 2005.  "We haven't decided the full itinerary yet, but it will definitely include Turkey and maybe Russia, and more remote regions of Russia.  We will be away for about a year.    I have always loved travelling, and writing about it is one of my ambitions."

A year later, in October 2008, Ella's three-year relationship with Aatish was over,  He had returned to India, but was unable to persuade Ella to join him.

Princess Michael's spokesman said: "I can confirm that Gabriella and Aatish are no longer together, but the love and respect they share for each other has not diminished.":

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Ella was a big fan of the US designer Ralph Lauren.  In May 2007, Ralph flew her to Moscow to attend the "lavish dinner" at the US embassy, celebrating the opening of his first store in Russia's capital.

"I'm a big fan. I like the clothes for their classic simplicity and understated style.  It's been great to meet Mr. Lauren and his family here in Moscow -- it's my first trip to the city.."

In 2008, it was announced that Ella would join Hola, conducting interviews for the weekly celebrity magazine. 

"She was offered the job because she is a working journalist," Princess Michael's spokesman told the press. She also traveled to Argentina to spend time there working on different projects including teaching English to underprivileged children

In the spring of 2011, Lady Ella decided to embark on a new educational opportunity, as she was accepted into Linacre College at Oxford.  She studied Social Anthropology and received a master's of Philosophy in 2012.

In May of 2016, Hello interviewed Lady Gabriella in her London flat, which is filled with mementos from her many travels.

"I feel very much a Londoner, but also a traveller.  I really enjoy meeting new people, being in new palaces, and learning from new cultures.  I love the sense of perspective that travelling gives you, to be reminded of different worlds."

Ella, who is 5'10, with blond hair, fair features, and green eyes, very much the "quintessential English rose."

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The Hello interview was timed to promote her new collaboration with the magazine.  It was announced that she would have a monthly column, Ella Meets where she would be interviewing actors, dancers, singers, and other articles.

"I'm very much looking forward to it.  I always enjoy meeting and learning from people I haven't met before, especially in areas of art and culture, and love writing and interview process."

The Hello assignment followed Ella's work on the magazine's Spanish edition, Hola.

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She is devoted to her two nieces, Maud and Isabella, the daughters of her brother, Lord Frederick, and his wife, the actress Sophie Winkleman.   The two little girls are "absolutely adorable.  I love being around them and I cannot think of anything that puts me in a better mood."   Ella is also very close to her brother and sister-in-law and considers Sophie a true sister.

Ella told Hello that she hoped one day to have children of her own.  "I'm very happy to be with someone special.  I'm very lucky."

She also talked about how she was "quite mischievous" at Downe House, due to her suspension for smuggling cigarettes.  "That was unfortunate," she said. "My parents weren't very impressed."

The Queen is a special favorite.  Ella said she admires the Queen's "huge strength of character and wisdom, as well as great warmth. We are very lucky to have her as an example to learn from. She's wonderful."

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The "someone special" is Thomas Henry Robin Kingston, who was born June 22, 1978, at Evesham, son of William Martin Kingston and his wife, Jill Mary (nee Bache).    The couple has dated for several years.  Tom proposed to Ella during a visit to Sark, a Channel Island, in August 2018.  The official announcement was made on September 19.  They will marry tomorrow, May 18, at St. George's Chapel, at Windsor Castle.  The reception will take place at Frogmore House.

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 Ella is a Board Member of the Playing for Change Foundation.  She works full time as the  Arts and Travel Director for Branding Latin America.

She is 52nd in line to the British throne.

Thomas Kingston works in finance and is the director of Devenport Capital.  He has a degree in economic history from Bristol University.    After College, he joined the Foreign Office's Diplomatic Missions Unit.  He was posted to Baghdad, Iraq, for three years, where he was a member of a team that negotiated the release of hostages.  He left the Unit in 2006 and returned to the United Kingdom to work in finance.

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Unknown said...

Excellent article Marlene, but April the 23rd is the anniversay of Skakespeare s death not his birthday.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Don’t mess with an English major. Shakespeare’s birthday is celebrated on April 23

JohnF said...

Ella also attended the state banquet at Buckingham Palace for the King & Queen of Spain on July 12th 2017.

BlueSaphire70 said...

Oh, my! Lady Gabriella and Prince Louis share a birthday. How cool is that! Thank you for a very interesting article.

Allan said...

I guess the two of you are correct in that William Shakespeare's death was also on 23 April. The exact date of his birth is not recorded but assumed to be on 23 April.

The Blessed Virgin said...

Happy ending for Lady Gabriella. Well deserved. Fortunately she didn't marry her previous boyfriend, who ended up turning on her and got married to a guy in the USA. How odd things turn out in life. I do hope she has a blissful and productive marriage.