Saturday, February 29, 2020

James Ogilvy celebrates his 14th birthday (sort of)

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 James Ogilvy, the first of two children of Princess Alexandra and the late Hon. Sir Angus Ogilvy, was born on February 29, 1964.  The Sunday Times headline for his birth said it all:  "A 9lb 6 oz Leap Year son for Alexandra."

Princess Alexandra gave birth at her home, Thatched House Lodge in Richmond Park, Surrey.   After visiting her that evening, her doctors said that the Princess had a restful afternoon and mother and son "are very well."

James Ogilvy was the first of four royal babies born in the spring of 1964.  Queen Elizabeth's fourth child, Prince Edward, was born on March 10.  Alexandra's sister-in-law, the Duchess of Kent, gave birth to her second child, Lady Helen, on April 28.  Three days later, on May 2,  Princess Margaret's second child, Lady Sarah, was born.

Alexandra's mother, Princess Marina, who lived in Kensington Palace, arrived at Thatched House Lodge at breakfast.    After Alexandra gave birth,  her husband, the Hon. Angus Ogilvy presented her with a bouquet of flowers before going into another room to inform members of both families.  The first member of the family to be told was the Queen, followed by a call to the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret at Royal Lodge.  Cables were sent to Angus' parents, the Earl and Countess of Airlie, who were en route from Capetown to England, and to the Princess' two brothers, the Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent, both of whom were stationed with the military in Germany.

The new father also called for champagne.  He and the doctors and household staff members celebrated with a toast to the newborn.

James Ogilvy was born 13th in line to the throne.  Following the birth of Lady Sarah, he was in 17th  place.   He takes his rank from his father, the younger son of the Earl of Airlie.   Angus had turned down the offer of an earldom from the Queen at the time of his marriage.

Prayers of Thanksgiving were offered for the Princess and her son in many churches.  Angus Ogilvy attended a service at Westminster Abbey, where he and Princess Alexandra were married on April 28, 1963.

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The baptism took place in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace on May 11, 1964.  The Archbishop of Canterbury officiated and was assisted by Maurice Foxell, Sub-dean of Her Majesty's chapels and Domestic Chaplain to The Queen.

The two-month-old baby, who was dressed in the Honiton Lace christening gown first worn in 1840 by Princess Victoria, eldest child of Queen Victoria, was given the names James Robert Bruce.

His sponsors were the Queen, the Duchess of Kent (Princess Marina stood proxy), Prince Michael of Kent (the Duke of Gloucester stood proxy), the Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Menzies (the Earl of Airlie stood proxy), Lord Ogilvy, the Hon. Peregrine Fairfax and Hon. Lady Rowley.

James and his three 1964 cousins were all confirmed on April 5, 1978, at St. George's Chapel. The Rite of Confirmation was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was assisted by the Dean of Windsor.

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The first years of James' education where he joined Prince Edward and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones.  He and Prince Edward, who remain, close friends, then attended Gibb's pre-preparatory school in Kensington and Heatherdown Preparatory school.  James then attended Eton and St. Andrew's University in Scotland, where he received a Master of Art in the History of Art.  He also has an MBA in 1991 from Cranfield.

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Before attending St. Andrew's,  James joined the Scots Guards, serving in Malaysia where he was found "digging trenches."  This was a short service commission as James wanted to leave his options open for a military career.  His father and his uncle, the Earl of Airlie, had been captains in the regiment.  He also spent time in Hong Kong with his then-girlfriend, Henrietta Newman, whose father was the director of an engineering firm.

James left Eton a year early as he wanted to study in London for a "crammer" course to improve his A-Levels.

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It was at St. Andrews where James met his future wife, Julia Rawlinson, the eldest of three daughters.  Julia's father was the vice-chairman of Morgan Grenfell.

The couple dated for five years before announcing their engagement on February 2, 1988.   Their marriage took place at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Saffron Walden in the presence of the Queen, Prince Edward, the Princess of Wales, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, Viscount Linley, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, the Duke and Duchess of Kent,  Lady Helen Taylor, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, Lord Frederick Windsor, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Marina Ogilvy.

One of the bridesmaids was James' first cousin, Lady Gabriella Windsor, the daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

The reception was held at Audley End, which went for the occasion by English Heritage.

At the time of the marriage, James was working as a trainee in the pension department at Barclays de Zoete Wedd.

The newlyweds settled into a house in Fulham.  Julia became the public relations manager at Garrard, the Crown Jewelers.  But after four years in London, they sold their home and moved to Coates House in Fife. They lived in Edinburgh during the week where James was hired by a shipping firm and Julia was appointed as managing director of Hamilton & Inches, a leading Edinburgh Jeweler.

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In an interview with Hello in December 1992,  Julia said "At the moment I am concentrating on my career, but I would like to have a family eventually.  We love being married and I don't want to change all that too fast. We like each other's company and we often take little trips away."

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James and Julia preferred the anonymity of Scotland to life in London.  "We love the country. We were always determined to return to Scotland as James has Scottish roots.  We don't have an estate, just a nice garden, and we walk and fish a lot.  We really don't miss London a lot," Julia said.

The couple's first child, Flora Alexandra, was born at Eastern General Hospital in Edinburgh, on December 15, 1994.

James, who called himself a "Scottish meanie," launched Luxury Briefings, a magazine aimed at the well-heeled, in the fall of 1996.   [James sold the magazine several years ago to FMS Global Media, which now runs the publication.]

Luxury Briefing contained no ads.  "This is a serious business-to-business publication for the people at the top of the industry," James told the Daily Telegraph's, Robert Hardman.

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In another interview with the Telegraph in October 1996, he spoke about his life on the royal fringe.  "When you are born into a situation it's not like being landed with a job. You slowly become acclimatized."

When he joined Edward and Lady Sarah for lessons at the palace, he said there was "no pecking order or sense of being special."    He added: "At that age, you do not understand that your situation is different.  We were always totally equal.  Edward was just a normal friend; he wasn't --- and isn't -- grand.  People imagine that our lives have been much more structured but within The Family, things are very relaxed."

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James knew from an early age that he would have to earn a living.  His father, the second son of the Earl of Airlie,  inherited very little and "struggled to make a living in business."  After Angus was declared negligent as a director of Lonrho, he had to resign from his 50 directorships.

"There was no luxury.  I was kept on a healthily short budget string.  I used to love making things so I would spend my pocket money on paper and paint.  I was always aware of the value of money."

Princess Alexandra was a full-time working royal, who carried out engagements for her patronages and charities in the United Kingdom and abroad.

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"It was no different from any other child being told mummy has to go work.  Some weeks she would work non-stop, but she would make an effort to keep weekends and holidays free."

James's younger sister, Marina, caused controversy in the family when she got pregnant before her marriage to Paul Mowett.  She also publicly accused her mother "of being cold and putting duty before the needs of her children."

Unlike his sister, James would not criticize his parents. "My mother's sense of duty was purely the result of being born into an unusual situation, something you don't have much chance to question.  She feels strongly that it was the role she was given in life.  She comes here and runs off with Flora, our daughter, to the beach. There's a time and place for dignity."

A second child, Alexander Charles, was born on November 12, 1996, at Eastern General Hospital.

Luxury Briefing was produced in James' office, an L-Shaped space in the back of his home.  The magazine was according to CEO Leonard Lauder an "indispensable publication for anyone interested in the prestige and travel markets."

"Working at home and getting to see so much of the children at this stage of their lives is a wonderful thing.  I love it, and my advice to anyone who can do it -- do it," he said in a Town & Country cover story in August 1997.   He had given up his job in Edinburgh to run Luxury Briefing. 

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He was asked if they were living a life of luxury.  "If you define it in terms of gold taps and marble baths, then probably not.  But if it's a luxury to have created a wonderful bit of space for our children and ourselves and to have a bit of time to enjoy it, then yes. If you asked me two years ago to describe my dream life, I honestly believe I'm living it now."

James caught the attention of the British press in November 1997, when he was bitten by a shark while swimming in Florida.  He and his family were "relaxing at a private club during a break on a business trip."   Although he had a "hole in his leg," the injury was not serious and he was expected to make a full recovery.

James and Julia served as mentors for Prince William when he was a student at St. Andrews. "Although William will want his own independence, the Ogilvys will be around to provide a bolthole and a safety net if and when the Prince needs it," said a source close to William.

James also provided support to his wife, when she decided in April 2003 to step down from Hamilton &  Inches to work with several of Scotland's poorest communities.   After spending time visiting "deprived Scottish council estates," Julia said: "It's a disgrace that in 2003 one in four children live in poverty."

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Julia joined Sarah Brown, wife of then Chancellor Gordon Brown, and designer Stella McCartney as patrons of Big Brothers and Big Sisters UK, a charity that provided adult mentors to disadvantaged young children." 

A year later, Julia launched Project Scotland, which helps assist young people to get involved in voluntary work.  She remained with the charity until 2011, although she remains the Honorary President.

James resigned as director of Luxury Briefing in March 2010.  The company was dissolved and sold to FMS Global Media and began a new career in Landscape Design and Photography.

It was the death of two children from Tay-Sachs disease, the children of twin brothers, who were friends of James and Julia that led Julia to question everything in her life.  She left her managing director position and went on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Bosnia.  She told Humans of HDS that she did not have a "particularly strong faith at that point, but when I was there, I did discover God in some form, and I found it a very moving and special experience."

Both James and Julia were raised in the Church of England, but Julia found it "quite dull."  After moving to Scotland, they joined the Church of Scotland.  "We did it for the community and because we wanted to bring up our children in the faith."    Julia became an Elder in the Church of Scotland.   The experience in Bosnia was life-changing as, after her return to Scotland,  Julia founded a new church in St. Andrews with several other people.  The church was named Cornerstone.  "You'd probably say I lean towards being Evangelical, but it's much more about a contemporary style of worship that's welcoming to people who are unchurched."

Julia Ogilvy has written several books on faith including Women in Waiting: Prejudice at the Heart of the Church.  She interviewed Professor Sarah Coakley, who was at the Harvard Divinity School for several years.  The professor recommended that Julia meet Professor Stephanie Paulsell, who convinced Julia to come to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to apply for a one-year special student program.  Julia was accepted.

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The family decided to come to America for a year.   Alexander was accepted at Brown University and Flora was graduating from Bristol University with a degree in art history.

Julia loved "HDS so much" that she decided to come back for the school's Master of Divinity program.  She received a Master's in Religion, Ethics, and Politics in 2018. She also has a Diploma in Clinical Pastoral Education.

James' father, the Hon. Sir Angus Ogilvy died on December 26, 2004.

James and Julia divide their time between their home in Scotland and Nantucket Island, where they have owned a summer home for more than 20 years.  James runs Ogilvy Landscape out of his home in Fife but has a client base on both sides of the Atlantic.  He did a landscaping course in 2014 at the Incbald School of Design. “I already had loads of practical experience, of course, but the course (which I did part-time and remotely) taught me techniques such as technical drawing,” he told Homes and Interiors Scotland.

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Flora is based in London. She is the founder of Artviste, where she focuses on "engaging those industries on the periphery of the art market such as finance, fashion, technology, and jewellery, she offers art consultancy, leads tours, and writes for various publications including Artnet and GQ."  She is engaged to marry Swedish-born Tim Vesterberg.

Alexander attended Merchiston, a private boys' school in Edinburgh, before heading to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he will graduate in May with a double major in computer science and economics.  His father's first cousin, Lady Gabriella Kingston, also graduated from Brown.

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James remains close to his royal relatives.  In 1990, the Duke of York asked him to be a godfather to the Duke's younger daughter, Princess Eugenie. If you liked this article I love a vanilla latte


Theatrebuff said...

Thanks for this article. It’s not often you read about these lesser known members of the Queen’s extended family. I hope you do more in the future.

Robbie said...

Yes I agree with the previous comment...a wonderful article....what a gifted family