This Saturday, Lady Gabriella Windsor — a member of the Kent branch of the British royal family — will marry her fiance, Thomas Kingston, in Windsor. To get ready for the big day, we’ve got a look today at all of the royal brides from the Kent family.
|Prince George, Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark on their wedding day, 1934 (Photo12 Archive/Alamy)|
The Kent branch of the Windsor family was officially founded in October 1934, when King George V granted his fourth son, Prince George, the title of Duke of Kent ahead of his upcoming royal wedding. The bride was also royal: Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, the daughter of Prince and Princess Nicholas of Greece. Marina’s mother, Elena, was a member of the Romanov clan; she was the only daughter of the famous Grand Duchess Vladimir. George and Marina were second cousins through their shared great-grandparents, King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark.
The glamorous couple married on November 29, 1934, in a pair of ceremonies: an Anglican wedding at Westminster Abbey, followed by a Greek Orthodox ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Marina honored her mother’s Russian imperial heritage by wearing the Vladimir Fringe Tiara with her veil and gown. (More on the tiara’s history here.) She also wore one of her wedding gifts, a spectacular 36-stone diamond collet necklace, a gift from her new father-in-law. Marina’s wedding gifts included numerous pieces of jewelry. She also received a similar diamond fringe tiara of her own as a wedding present: the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara. (Learn about that tiara here.)
George and Marina settled down at their Buckinghamshire country home, Coppins, which George inherited from his aunt, the late Princess Victoria. They had three children — Prince Edward, Princess Alexandra, and Prince Michael — before George’s untimely death in a military plane crash in Scotland in 1942. Their six-year-old son, Prince Edward, succeeded his father as Duke of Kent.
|Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Katharine Worsley on their wedding day, June 1961 (CENTRAL PRESS PHOTO LTD/AFP/Getty Images)|
Nearly three decades after his parents’ wedding, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, became the next member of the Kent family to marry. His engagement to Katharine Worsley, the daughter of a wealthy Yorkshire baronet, was announced in March 1961 by his mother via the press office at Kensington Palace. Through her private secretary, Marina noted that she was “naturally delighted” by the news of her elder son’s engagement.
Edward and Katharine married in a televised ceremony on June 8, 1961, at York Minster, in the first royal wedding held in the cathedral for more than six hundred years. Prince Michael of Kent was his brother’s best man, while Princess Anne served as a bridesmaid. (Another notable name among the bridesmaids: Jane Spencer, an elder sister of the future Diana, Princess of Wales, who was born three weeks after this wedding. Edward is Jane’s godfather.) Edward’s extensive royal heritage meant that, along with numerous members of the British royal family, the guest list included royals from Denmark, Germany, Greece, Norway, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, and Yugoslavia. Katharine wore a dress designed by John Cavanagh, and her veil was secured by a diamond bandeau from the collection of the late Queen Mary. (More on that tiara here!)
After their royal wedding, the Duke of Kent and the new Duchess of Kent moved into his childhood home, Coppins, while his mother (from then on called Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent) remained in her apartments at Kensington Palace. Edward and Katharine are still married today, with three surviving children: the Earl of St. Andrews, Lady Helen Taylor, and Lord Nicholas Windsor.
|The Hon. Angus Ogilvy and Princess Alexandra of Kent on their wedding day, April 1963 (PA Images/Alamy)|
Two years later, the Kent family gathered again for another royal wedding. This time, the bride was George and Marina’s only daughter, Princess Alexandra of Kent. Her engagement to the Hon. Angus Ogilvy, the second son of the 12th Earl of Airlie, was announced by the Kensington Palace press office in December 1962.
Alexandra and Angus were married at Westminster Abbey on April 24, 1963. The ceremony was shown on television, with an estimated audience of 200 million watching the broadcast. Alexandra’s elder brother, the Duke of Kent, stepped in to escort her down the aisle. Princess Anne again served as one of the bridesmaid; also included in the bridesmaid roster was Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria, one of Alexandra’s cousins. Alexandra’s royal connections brought a flood of royalty to England for the celebrations. One British paper noted that “half the Almanach de Gotha danced along with nearly 2,000 other guests … at the most splendid ball Windsor Castle had seen since the days of the young Queen Victoria,” while at the wedding ceremony itself “there must have been more royal blood flanking the nave than Westminster Abbey had seen for years.” Like her sister-in-law, Alexandra’s gown was made by John Cavanagh. She borrowed the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara from her mother, Princess Marina, to secure her veil. (More on the tiara here!)
While the wedding reinforced Alexandra’s impressive royal heritage, Angus declined the offer of an earldom from the Queen (who had reportedly been encouraged to make the offer by Princess Marina). They raised two children, James and Marina Ogilvy, at Thatched House Lodge in Richmond Park. Angus passed away in 2004, but Alexandra is still a working member of the royal family today.
|Prince Michael of Kent and Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz after their civil wedding ceremony, June 1978 (PA Images/Alamy)|
George and Marina’s youngest son, Prince Michael of Kent, surprised the establishment in May 1978, when he announced that he had given up his place in the line of succession to marry Austrian-born Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz, a Roman Catholic divorcee. Papers reported that the two had been romantically involved for two years, following an initial meeting at the home of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. At the time, Prince Michael was 16th in line to the throne. At a press conference announcing their engagement, he told reporters, “It doesn’t make any difference to me. I am so far away from it.” The engagement came just as the divorce of the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, was being finalized.
Though the engagement came in a time of family turmoil, the Queen gave the couple her permission to marry. Even so, their religious differences posed problems. Marie Christine’s previous marriage had been annulled by the Catholic church (three weeks before her royal engagement was announced), but papers revealed that she was petitioning Pope Paul VI to allow her to marry Prince Michael in a Catholic ceremony but raise any future children as members of the Church of England. That dispensation was not granted. Ultimately, the couple’s wedding took place outside of both the church and the country. They married in a civil ceremony in Vienna’s town hall on June 30, 1978. Several members of the royal family, including Princess Anne and Lord Mountbatten, attended. Michael’s brother and sister, the Duke of Kent (with his daughter, Lady Helen) and Princess Alexandra (with her husband, Angus Ogilvy), were also among the royal guests.
|Prince Michael of Kent and Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz at their wedding ball, June 1978 (Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy)|
The civil ceremony was followed by a white-tie wedding reception at Schwarzenberg Palace in Vienna. The new Princess Michael of Kent wore her late mother-in-law’s Kent City of London Fringe Tiara for the ball. (More on the tiara’s history here.) Her earrings also came from Princess Marina’s collection; the diamond drops in the center of the earrings can be swapped out for sapphires.
After returning from their honeymoon, Prince and Princess Michael settled in a grace and favour apartment at Kensington Palace. There they raised two children, Lord Frederick Windsor and Lady Gabriella Windsor, both of whom were raised Anglican. In 1983, Pope John Paul II reversed the earlier papal decision regarding a dispensation for the couple’s marriage, and they subsequently had a private Catholic wedding ceremony in London. In 2015, Prince Michael’s place in the line of succession was restored, following the implementation of the new Succession to the Crown Act.
The first member of the next generation of the Kent family to marry was the Duke and Duchess of Kent’s elder son, George Windsor, the Earl of St. Andrews. Like his uncle, Prince Michael, George’s chosen bride was a Roman Catholic divorcee. Sylvana Tomaselli, an academic specializing in eighteenth-century political theory, was born in Canada. She was briefly married to a fellow academic, but had been divorced for six years before her engagement to Lord St. Andrews was announced in July 1987. They shared a home together in Cambridge, where he was studying for a post-graduate degree and she was working as a research fellow.
The couple received the Queen’s consent to marry, and on January 9, 1988, they wed quietly in a registry office in Scotland. Because he married a Catholic, Lord St. Andrews gave up his place in the line of succession; at the time of the wedding, he was 17th in line to the throne. The new Countess of St. Andrews wore a royal blue ensemble with a matching hat for the ceremony. Several members of the Kent family were in attendance, including the Duke and Duchess of Kent, Lady Helen Windsor and Lord Nicholas Windsor, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Princess Alexandra. A wedding luncheon followed at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh.
After their wedding, Lord St. Andrews embarked on a diplomatic career, while Lady St. Andrews continued work as an academic. The couple have three children: Lord Downpatrick, Lady Marina Windsor, and Lady Amelia Windsor.
|James Ogilvy and Julia Rawlinson on their wedding day, July 1988 (Rebecca Naden/PA Images/Alamy)|
A few months later, Princess Alexandra’s son became the next Kent family member to marry. In February 1988, the family announced the engagement of James Ogilvy to Julia Rawlinson. The couple met while studying art history at the University of St. Andrews.
The couple married on July 30, 1988, at St. Mary the Virgin in Saffron Walden, one of the largest parish churches in Essex. The Queen, who is one of James’s godparents, attended the ceremony, as did Princess Margaret, Princess Diana, and the Earl of Wessex. James’s cousin, Lady Gabriella Windsor, served as one of Julia’s bridesmaids.
James and Julia Ogilvy remain married today. They have two children, Flora and Alexander, and they can occasionally be spotted accompanying his mother to royal events.
|Paul Mowatt and Marina Ogilvy on their wedding day, February 1990 (Martin Keene/PA Images/Alamy)|
The next Kent family marriage garnered much more public attention. In October 1989, Princess Alexandra’s daughter, Marina Ogilvy, made a surprising public announcement to a British tabloid newspaper: she was expecting a baby with her boyfriend, Paul Mowatt, and she had written to the Queen for support after her parents had cut off her allowance. Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy released a statement through the palace in response, explaining that they were “concerned at the number of inaccuracies” in Marina’s statement, and stressing that Marina was “always welcome” at home. Marina argued that her parents wanted her either to terminate the pregnancy or to marry Paul right away, while the couple preferred to wait until after their child had been born to marry.
By January 1990, the family had reached some resolution to their conflict, helped along by a strategic intervention by the Queen. Princess Alexandra’s private secretary confirmed to the press that Marina and Paul would be marrying shortly at a local registry office. The wedding actually took place on February 2, 1990, at St. Andrew’s Church near the Ogilvy home in Surrey. Angus Ogilvy escorted his daughter down the aisle, but Marina chose to buck tradition by wearing a black dress with a red jacket and black hat for the ceremony. She also reportedly skipped the champagne reception that her parents had arranged after the wedding.
Paul and Marina’s baby, Zenouska Mowatt, was born in May 1990. She was followed three years later by a younger brother, Christian Mowatt. Paul and Marina announced their separation in 1996 and divorced the following year.
|Timothy Taylor and Lady Helen Windsor on their wedding day, July 1992 (John Stillwell/PA Images/Alamy)|
The next set of Kent nuptials was a bit more conventional. The Duke and Duchess of Kent announced the engagement of their daughter, Lady Helen Windsor, to Timothy Taylor in January 1992. The couple shared a love of art: she was the director of a London art gallery, and he was an art dealer. The couple requested the Queen’s permission to marry during the Christmas festivities of the previous month, and she reportedly replied that she was “delighted” to give them her blessing.
After one initial hiccup — the leaking of the couple’s wedding registry list to the Evening Standard — the proceedings went off without a hitch. The wedding, which took place on July 1992, was a traditional affair at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and most of the royal family were in attendance. Lady Helen wore an elaborate silk gown made by Catherine Walker, who took inspiration from the architecture of St. George’s in the design of the dress. Helen also wore a pearl and diamond fringe tiara loaned by her mother, the Duchess of Kent. (Many think this tiara is a remodeled version of the Duchess’s own wedding tiara.) The newspapers reported that the couple seemed extremely happy, as did their families. As rumors of marital unhappiness within the Windsors intensified, however, the press zeroed in on the absence of the Duchess of York and the distance between the Prince and Princess of Wales.
Tim and Lady Helen remain married today, with four children: Columbus, Cassius, Eloise, and Estella.
|Lord Nicholas Windsor with his wife, Paola, and their two eldest children, August 2011 (Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)|
When Lord Nicholas Windsor, the younger son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, became engaged in 2006, there was no question about his claim to the throne; he had already relinquished that position when he had converted to Catholicism in 2001. Following his engagement to Paola Doimi de Lupis (sometimes called Paola de Frankopan) in July 2006, he received the Queen’s consent for his marriage.
The couple wed in a civil ceremony in a London registry office on October 19, 2006. But the bigger, and to them, the more important, ceremony was their religious wedding at the Vatican on November 4, 2006. The wedding was the first marriage of a member of the British royal family to take place there since the Reformation. Paola wore a gown by Valentino, but chose to follow an ancient tradition by wearing no jewelry at all. The ceremony was attended by the groom’s parents, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, as well as his siblings, Lord St. Andrews and Lady Helen Taylor. The couple received the blessing of Pope Benedict XVI ahead of their nuptials. One friend of the couple told the press, “Their faith is central to their marriage. To have the ceremony in the Eternal City has meant so much to both of them.” Indeed, Lady Nicholas Windsor wrote an article about her wedding for Vogue in 2011. (You can read the piece, which includes wedding pictures, here.)
Since their marriage, the couple have welcomed three sons: Albert Windsor, Leopold Windsor, and Louis Windsor.
|Lord Frederick Windsor and Sophie Winkelman on their wedding day, September 2009 (John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images)|
The most recent Kent family wedding took place almost a decade ago. Lord Frederick Windsor, the son of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, became engaged to actress Sophie Winkleman on Valentine’s Day in 2009.
The couple’s marriage took place on September 12, 2009, in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. The bride wore a silk gown and a sparkling headpiece rather than a family tiara. The Queen, who was at Balmoral, did not attend; Princess Eugenie of York was one of the most senior royal guests. The Kent family was well represented, with the Duke and Duchess of Kent, Princess Alexandra, and Prince and Princess Michael all in attendance. Eloise Taylor (daughter of Lady Helen Taylor) serving as a bridesmaid and the groom’s sister, Lady Gabriella Windsor, doing one of the readings during the service. A champagne reception followed in the palace’s famous Great Hall.
Sophie has continued to work as an actress throughout her marriage, while Lord Frederick is a financial analyst. The couple have two daughters, Maud Windsor and Isabella Windsor.
|Lady Gabriella Windsor and her fiance, Thomas Kingston, May 2017 (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)|
On Saturday, Lady Gabriella Windsor will become the most recent member of the Kent family to marry. She is presently 52nd in line to the throne, and she has worked as a journalist and a brand director. Her engagement to Thomas Kingston was announced by Buckingham Palace in September 2018.
The wedding is scheduled to take place at St. George’s Chapel on May 18. The ceremony will be private, with a reception following at Frogmore House. The Queen is expected to attend.