Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Duchess of Gloucester in her late sixties
The Duchess of Gloucester in 2015
BornBirgitte Eva van Deurs Henriksen
(1946-06-20) 20 June 1946 (age 76)
Odense, Denmark
(m. 1972)
HouseWindsor (by marriage)
FatherAsger Henriksen
MotherVivian van Deurs

Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, GCVO DStJ CD (born Birgitte Eva van Deurs Henriksen; 20 June 1946) is a Danish member of the British royal family. She is married to Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. They have three children.

Early life and education

Birgitte was born Birgitte Eva van Deurs Henriksen, in Odense, Denmark, the younger daughter of Asger Preben Wissing Henriksen, a lawyer, and his wife, Vivian van Deurs. She was educated in Odense and at finishing schools in Lausanne and Cambridge.[1] She took her mother's ancestral name van Deurs on 15 January 1966, after her parents' separation.[2][non-primary source needed] After completing a three-year course in Commercial and Economic Studies in Copenhagen, she moved back to the United Kingdom in 1971 to work as a secretary at the Royal Danish Embassy in London.[1]

Marriage and family

Birgitte first met Prince Richard of Gloucester, the younger son of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, in the late 1960s in Cambridge, while he attended university. In February 1972, their engagement was announced.[1] They married on 8 July 1972 at St Andrew's Church, Barnwell, Northamptonshire.[1] The bride's wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell. Instead of wearing a tiara, the bride wore stephanotis flowers on her hair which secured the veil.[3]

Six weeks after their wedding, Prince Richard's elder brother, Prince William of Gloucester, was killed in a flying accident. Prince Richard unexpectedly became heir apparent to the dukedom and upon his father's death in 1974, the couple became the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.[1]

The couple have three children: Alexander (born 1974), Davina (born 1977), and Rose (born 1980), They were born at St Mary's Hospital, London.[1] The Duke and Duchess officially reside at Kensington Palace.[4]


The Duchess in Brisbane
, 1979

The Duchess of Gloucester has accompanied the Duke of Gloucester on his official visits overseas: her first visit was in 1973, when they represented the Queen at the 70th birthday celebrations of King Olav V of Norway.[5] Other joint visits have included Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tonga, Tunisia and the United States.[5] Birgitte has also travelled overseas in support of her own patronages and military units, including a visit to Iraq in December 2008.[5]

She and her husband represented the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the state funeral of King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV of Tonga on 19 September 2006.[6] They also represented the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the coronation of King George Tupou V of Tonga on 1 August 2008 in Nukuʻalofa.[7]

Birgitte is sponsor of two Royal Navy ships: HMS Gloucester and HMS Sandown. She is also the Royal Patron of the Bermuda Regiment. She is patron of SeeAbility, a charity for people with learning disabilities and sight loss; The Lullaby Trust, a baby charity aiming to prevent unexpected deaths in infancy and promote infant health; and Music in Hospitals & Care.[8] She regularly attends functions at schools of which she is president or patron: St Paul's Cathedral School; the Friends of St Paul's Cathedral;[9] the Cathedral Music Trust;[10] St John's School, Leatherhead;[11] Bridewell Royal Hospital (King Edward's School, Witley); the Royal Alexandra and Albert School;[12] the Children's Society;[13] Parkinson's UK;[14] Hope for Youth Northern Ireland;[15] Scottish Opera;[16] Lawn Tennis Association;[17] the Royal School of Needlework;[18] Turn2us;[19] and Princess Helena College. After the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Birgitte became President of the Royal Academy of Music.[20] She is also the patron of Prostate Cancer UK,[21] and in March 2006, she opened the Prostate Centre.[22]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 8 July 1972 – 10 June 1974: Her Royal Highness Princess Richard of Gloucester
  • 10 June 1974 – present: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester



Honorary military appointments

Australia Australia
  • Australia Colonel-in-Chief, of the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps[1]
Bermuda Bermuda
Canada Canada
New Zealand New Zealand
  • New Zealand Colonel-in-Chief, of the Royal New Zealand Army Educational Corps[1]
United Kingdom United Kingdom


Coat of arms of the Duchess of Gloucester
Coat of Arms of Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester.svg
Coat of arms of Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, depicting her husband's armorial bearings surmounted by an escutcheon of pretence granted to her by Royal Warrant[30]
18 July 1973
Coronet of a Grandchild of the Sovereign.
The Duke of Gloucester's arms and in the centre an escutcheon of pretence Azure a lapwing proper, on a chief Or two pairs of ostrich feathers in saltire Sable[30]
The Royal Supporters differenced with the like coronet and label.
The Royal Victorian Order circlet.
Other elements
Insignia of GCVO appended.


Name Birth Marriage Issue
Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster 24 October 1974 22 June 2002 Claire Booth Xan Windsor, Lord Culloden
Lady Cosima Windsor
Lady Davina Windsor 19 November 1977 31 July 2004
Divorced 2018
Gary Lewis Senna Lewis
Tāne Lewis
Lady Rose Gilman 1 March 1980 19 July 2008 George Gilman Lyla Gilman
Rufus Gilman


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "The Duchess of Gloucester". The Royal Family. 13 November 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  2. ^ Name change is mentioned in parish register of Th. Kingo, Odense (Regional Archive, Odense)
  3. ^ "The 22 Most Gorgeous Royal Wedding Tiara Moments of All Time (slide 15)". Harper's Bazaar Singapore. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  4. ^ Hampson, Laura (8 December 2017). "Meet Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's new neighbours - the royals who live in Kensington Palace". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "The Duchess of Gloucester – Public role". Official website of the Royal Family. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  6. ^ "Tonga Mourns King's Death". CBS News. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  7. ^ "His Majesty King George Tupou V of Tonga". The Daily Telegraph. 18 March 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Meet MiHC Office Staff and Patrons across the UK". Music in Hospitals & Care. 27 July 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  9. ^ "A Royal Celebration of St Paul's Friends and Benefactors". St Paul's Cathedral. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  10. ^ "HRH The Duchess of Gloucester becomes Royal Patron for Cathedral Music Trust". Cathedral Music Trust. 24 January 2022. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  11. ^ "Royal Visit". St John's School, Leatherhead. 5 March 2014. Archived from the original on 26 May 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Our Royal Heritage". Royal Alexandra and Albert School. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  13. ^ "HRH The Duchess of Gloucester visits The Children's Society in Manchester". The Children's Society. 1 October 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  14. ^ "The Duchess of Gloucester, Patron". Parkinson's UK. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  15. ^ "HRH The Duchess of Gloucester attends 'Hope for Youth Northern Ireland' gala dinner at Belfast City Hall". GOV.UK. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  16. ^ "The Board of Scottish Opera". Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Lawn Tennis Association pays tribute to Her Majesty The Queen". Lawn Tennis Association. 20 December 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  18. ^ "Royal School of Needlework". Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  19. ^ "Thank you". Turn2us. Retrieved 22 July 2022.
  20. ^ "About us - Governing Body". Royal Academy of Music. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  21. ^ "Prostate Research receives royal attention". PR Newswire. 4 March 2003. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  22. ^ "About The Prostate Centre". The Prostate Centre. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  23. ^ a b "The Duchess of Gloucester: Honours". Royal Household. Archived from the original on 11 October 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  24. ^ "No. 46574". The London Gazette. 16 May 1975. p. 6404.
  25. ^ a b c d[bare URL image file]
  26. ^ "Royal orders presented at Palace". Matangi Tonga Online. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  27. ^ "TRH THE PRINCE OF WALES AND THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL AWARDED WITH THE MEXICAN ORDER OF THE AZTEC EAGLE". Official website of the Mexican Embassy in the United Kingdom. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  28. ^ "Colonel-In-Chief of the CFDS". National Defence and the Canadian Forces. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  29. ^ a b Ilse, Jess (30 June 2021). "What is a royal ship sponsor?". Royal Central. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  30. ^ a b Boutell, Charles; Brooke-Little, John Philip (1978). Boutell's Heraldry (8th (revised) ed.). Frederick Warne. p. 226. ISBN 9780723220961.

External links

Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Ladies
HRH The Duchess of Gloucester
Succeeded by