|Princess Michael of Kent|
|Born||Baroness Marie-Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz|
15 January 1945
Karlsbad, Greater German Reich
(now Czech Republic)
|House||Windsor (by marriage)|
|Father||Baron Günther von Reibnitz|
|Mother||Countess Maria Szapáry von Muraszombath|
|Royal family of|
the United Kingdom and the
other Commonwealth realms
Princess Michael of Kent  (born Baroness Marie-Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz, 15 January 1945) is a member of the British royal family who is of German, Austrian, Czech and Hungarian descent. She is married to Prince Michael of Kent, who is a grandson of King George V. Princess Michael of Kent was an interior designer before becoming an author; she has written several books on European royalty.
Early life and ancestry
Princess Michael was born Baroness Marie-Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz, on 15 January 1945, in Karlsbad, a town then in German-populated Sudetenland, now known as Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. She was born at the family estates of her Austrian maternal grandmother, Princess Hedwig von Windisch-Graetz (1878–1918), shortly before the defeat of Nazi Germany and end of World War II in Europe. The expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia followed later that year.
By birth she is a member of the Reibnitz family, uradel Silesian nobility who can trace their noble ancestry from 1288. The ancestral seat of the family was Reibnitz Castle. On her father's side, Princess Michael is a descendant of the Burggrafen von Dohna, Herrand III von Trauttmansdorff and Nostitz family, who are also ancestors of Queen Elizabeth II.
She is the younger daughter of Baron Günther Hubertus von Reibnitz (1894–1983) by his second wife, Countess Maria Anna Carolina Franziska Walburga Bernadette Szapáry von Muraszombath, Széchysziget und Szapár (1911–1988), who was the daughter of Count Friedrich Szapáry von Muraszombath, Széchysziget und Szapár, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Saint Petersburg at the outbreak of World War I.
Princess Michael's father was a Nazi Party member and served as a cavalry officer in the Waffen-SS during World War II. In response to the advances of the Red Army near the end of the war, the family abandoned their estates and moved to Bavaria, which was part of the American-occupied zone of Germany. Her parents divorced in 1946 and, along with her mother and elder brother Baron Friedrich von Reibnitz (born 1942), Princess Michael moved to Australia, where she was educated at Convent of the Sacred Heart, Rose Bay (now Kincoppal-Rose Bay). In the early 1960s, she lived with her father on his farm in Mozambique. She then went from Vienna to London to study History of Fine and Decorative Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Her first husband was the English banker Thomas Troubridge (1939–2015), younger brother of Sir Peter Troubridge, 6th Baronet. They met at a boar hunt in Germany and were married on 14 September 1971 at Chelsea Old Church, London. The couple separated in 1973 and were civilly divorced in 1977. The marriage was ecclesiastically annulled by Pope Paul VI in May 1978.
One month after the annulment, on 30 June 1978, at a civil ceremony in Vienna, Austria, she married Prince Michael of Kent, the son of Prince George, Duke of Kent, and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. Prince Michael is a grandson of King George V. Marie-Christine has named Lord Mountbatten as their matchmaker.
Michael presented Marie-Christine with a two-stone sapphire-and-diamond ring made from stones that belonged to his mother, Princess Marina. For the ball held after the wedding, she wore the City of London diamond fringe tiara and a cream dress from Bellville Sassoon. Upon their marriage, she was accorded the style and title of Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent, the female equivalent to her husband's title. After receiving Pope John Paul II's permission, the couple later received a blessing of their marriage in a Roman Catholic ceremony on 29 June 1983 at Archbishop's House, London.
Since the Act of Settlement 1701 prohibited anyone who married a Roman Catholic from succeeding to the throne, Prince Michael of Kent (at that time, 15th in the line of succession) lost his succession rights upon marrying Marie-Christine. Prince Michael was reinstated to the line of succession to the British throne on 26 March 2015 with the passing of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013. Their children are members of the Church of England and have retained their rights of succession since birth.
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have two children:
- Lord Frederick Windsor, born 6 April 1979 at St Mary's Hospital, London. He married Sophie Winkleman on 12 September 2009 and they have two daughters: Maud (born 15 August 2013) and Isabella (born 16 January 2016).
- Lady Gabriella Kingston, born 23 April 1981 at St Mary's Hospital, London. She married Thomas Kingston on 18 May 2019.
Marie-Christine was linked romantically by the press to John Warner and tycoons Ward Hunt and Mikhail Kravchenko. She also had a friendship with John W. Galbreath and Peter de Savary, the latter of whom gifted her a £150,000 parcel of land on Antigua.
Before her marriage to Prince Michael, she worked as an interior designer. According to a report in The Observer's Pendennis column in September 2007, the Princess resumed decorating under her original company, Szapar Designs. In 1986, her first book Crowned in a Far Country: Portraits of Eight Royal Brides was published, after which she faced allegations of plagiarism and reached an out-of-court settlement with another author. Her second book Cupid and the King: Five Royal Paramours faced the same issues, which the Princess attributed to the researcher, who had allegedly submitted notes without due attribution. The book was to be published by Michael Joseph, but after the draft was submitted several months late, it was rejected and published by HarperCollins. From 2007 to 2011, the Princess served as president of Partridge Fine Art, a gallery in London's New Bond Street until it went into administration having suffered substantial multi-year losses. In 2008, the Princess was engaged as a consultant by Galerie Gmurzynska in Switzerland, and later became their international ambassador. She also served on the board of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and goes on lecture tours around the world where she talks about historical subjects at universities, museums and galleries to promote her books and endorse her charities. Marie-Christine, whose husband has a strong interest in Russia, was reportedly taking Russian lessons as of May 2012.
- Crowned in a Far Country: Portraits of Eight Royal Brides. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 1986. ISBN 0-297-79010-2.
- Cupid and the King: Five Royal Paramours. HarperCollins. 1991. ISBN 0-00-223911-6.
- The Serpent and The Moon: Two Rivals for the Love of a Renaissance King. Simon & Schuster. 2004. ISBN 0-7432-5104-0.
- The Queen of Four Kingdoms. Constable. 2013. ISBN 978-1472108456.
- Agnès Sorel: Mistress of Beauty. Constable. 2014. ISBN 978-1472119131.
- Quicksilver. Constable. 2015. ISBN 978-1472123060.
- A Cheetah's Tale. Bradt. 2017. ISBN 978-1784770693.
Royal and charitable activities
Prince and Princess Michael represented the Queen at the Belize independence celebrations and at the coronation of King Mswati III of Eswatini. Prince Michael also supports a large number of charities and organisations, and Princess Michael supports him in his work.
Since she was a teenager, Princess Michael has held a long and enduring passion for the conservation of cheetahs and she is international royal patron for the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. She is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, a learned society dedicated to natural history and taxonomy.
Prince Michael has never received a parliamentary annuity or an allowance from the Privy Purse. The couple have had the use of a five-bedroom, five-reception grace and favour apartment at Kensington Palace. Queen Elizabeth II had paid the rent for the apartment at a market rate of £120,000 annually from her own private funds with the couple paying the nominal amount of £70 per week. The rent goes to the Grant-in-aid, provided by the Government for the maintenance of the Occupied Royal Palaces. The rent is based on the current rate for commercially rented properties at Kensington Palace, and is recorded in the overall figures for commercial rents in the Grant-in-aid annual report. This rent payment by the Queen is "in recognition of the Royal engagements and work for various charities which Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have undertaken at their own expense, and without any public funding", according to a statement released by the British Monarchy Media Centre.
In 2008, it was announced that it had been agreed that Prince and Princess Michael would pay rent of £120,000 a year from their own funds from 2010. Members of Parliament on the public accounts committee had demanded the change after the Kents' rent had come to light. The Kents have lived in the apartment since 1979, paying only their utility bills prior to 2002.
She attended Mass in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, 18 September, where she was seated in the first row among other dignitaries, including Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor, the Duke of Norfolk and former Prime Minister Tony Blair; the Pope gave them an audience after Mass.
On the last day of the Pope's visit, 19 September, she attended the open-air Mass of beatification for Cardinal John Henry Newman at Cofton Park, Birmingham. Princess Michael was personally involved in the beatification process and attended several other celebrations relating to his beatification before and after the Cofton Park Mass, including a commemorative concert of the Dream of Gerontius at Birmingham Town Hall on 18 September.
She also attended a civic dinner with invited dignitaries and bishops in Birmingham, before attending the Mass and meeting the Pope. Previously, in November 2008, the Princess attended the translation of remains of Cardinal Newman at Birmingham Oratory along with other guests of honour, including Francis Campbell, HM Ambassador to the Holy See; the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and Lady Mayoress; Sir Ivor Roberts, President of Trinity College, Oxford, and formerly British Ambassador to Italy; and Sir Derek Morris, Provost of Oriel College, Oxford. After the Translation Mass, Princess Michael was shown round Cardinal Newman's Room and Chapel and visited Newman's library.
Princess Michael of Kent represented the Duke of Edinburgh at the launching ceremony of the Green Pilgrimage Network in Assisi, Italy, on 1 November 2011. It was organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), founded by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1995, in association with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), of which Prince Philip was formerly President. The Princess spoke on behalf of the Duke of Edinburgh and led the opening procession.
Views and controversies
The media claim she once declared to an American fashion magazine that she had "more royal blood in her veins than any person to marry into the royal family since Prince Philip". After being told about Princess Michael's lineage by Lord Mountbatten, Queen Elizabeth II reportedly joked that she was "a bit too grand for us".
In 2004, she was accused of racially insulting black diners at a restaurant in New York. A spokesperson acknowledged that the Princess had been angry at the group, who were seated on a table near her, but denied that she had told them to "go back to the colonies". In an interview with a newspaper she reflected on her encounter with "a group of rappers", which in fact included the TV reporter A. J. Calloway as well as a banker, a lawyer, and a music mogul.
In February 2005, she gave a series of interviews to promote her book, in one of which she said that Britons should be more concerned about the bloodlines of their children, and claimed that the British media were "excited" by Prince Harry's decision to wear a swastika for a fancy dress party because of the British press' "ownership structure". She claimed that "nobody would have got excited" had he worn the hammer and sickle.
In September 2005, she talked to Mazher Mahmood, a News of the World journalist posing as a fake sheikh and potential buyer for Nether Lypiatt Manor, Princess Michael and her husband's country home at the time. The Princess shared her opinions on Diana, Princess of Wales describing her as a "bitter" and "nasty" woman. She went on to say that Charles, Prince of Wales was "jealous" of his former wife's popularity, and that he had effectively married a "womb". She also added that the Prince's Duchy Originals jams were not homemade: "He's got factories. It's just got his name on it."
On hearing that research by Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth seemed to indicate that rank among female baboons is hereditary, the Princess is reported to have said: "I always knew that when people who aren't like us claim that hereditary rank is not part of human nature, they must be wrong. Now you've given me evolutionary proof!"
In January 2014, the Princess was interviewed by Conrad Black. She described the older generation of the royal family as "boring for most people". Princess Michael also said that she was "very fond of" Diana, Princess of Wales, but also stated that she had "little education", and both she and Sarah, Duchess of York, were abandoned by their mothers at a young age, which made it hard for them to deal with their status as royal figures.
In September 2015, the Princess was in the news for stating publicly that animals do not have rights because they do not pay taxes, have bank accounts or vote.
In December 2017, the Princess was criticised for wearing a blackamoor brooch with a stylised figure of an African man to a Christmas banquet at Buckingham Palace. Meghan Markle, later the Duchess of Sussex, a mixed-race American woman of African and European descent, and at the time the fiancée of Prince Harry, was present at the dinner. A spokesperson for the Princess later said that she "is very sorry and distressed that it has caused offence".
In 1985, Marie-Christine was hospitalised for one week to undergo treatments for "nervous exhaustion". In May 2021, it was reported that Princess Michael was suffering from blood clots after being diagnosed with COVID-19 six months earlier. She is known to have suffered from lung issues in her childhood.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
Since her marriage to Prince Michael, Marie-Christine has been styled as Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent. It just so happens that Prince Michael is the only male line grandson of King George V who is not a royal peer, hence the feminine style of Prince Michael of Kent was adopted.
- : Dame Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (September 2010)
- : Dame of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy
- House of Habsburg: Dame of the Order of the Starry Cross
- House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (Castroan branch): Dame Grand Cross of Justice of the Two-Sicilian Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George (GCJCO)
- Honorary Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners
- Honorary Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Weavers
- Honorary Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths
- Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (FLS)
|Lord Frederick Windsor||6 April 1979||12 September 2009||Sophie Winkleman||Maud Windsor|
|Lady Gabriella Kingston||23 April 1981||18 May 2019||Thomas Kingston|
|Ancestors of Princess Michael of Kent|
- "Address Book". Linnean Society. Burlington House, London: Linnean Society. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
- "Princess Michael of Kent". Hello Magazine. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
- Langley, William (15 December 2013). "Princess Michael of Kent: life beneath the tiara". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- van de Pas, Leo (2005). Sinners and Saints: A Biographical Introduction to the Ancestors of HRH Princess Michael of Kent. ISBN 0-646-45007-7.
- Graydon A. Tunstall, Jr, 'Austria-Hungary', in Richard F. Hamilton & Holger H. Herwig (eds.), The Origins of World War I, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 119.
- "SS Officer the Father Of a British Princess". The New York Times. 16 April 1985. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Greenfield, Patrick (22 December 2017). "Princess Michael of Kent apologises for wearing 'racist jewellery'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
- Garman, Emma (9 January 2013). "The Miraculous Exploits Of Princess Michael Of Kent". The Awl. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
- "HRH Princess Michael of Kent". Atlantic Speaker Bureau. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
- "A Cheetah's Tale". HRH Princess Michael of Kent. Retrieved 10 December 2022.
- Adams, Tim (15 October 2005). "An audience with Princess Michael". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 December 2022.
- Chang, Mahalia (27 November 2017). "A Very Thorough History Of British Royal Engagement Rings". Harper's Bazaar Australia. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
- "The 22 Most Gorgeous Royal Wedding Tiara Moments of All Time (slide 13)". Harper's Bazaar Singapore. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
- "The most iconic Royal wedding dresses". Marie Claire UK. 27 April 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
- Picknett, Lynn, Prince, Clive, Prior, Stephen & Brydon, Robert, War of the Windsors: A Century of Unconstitutional Monarchy (2002), p. 271. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-631-3.
- "2D Scandal Taints British Princess". Chicago Tribune. 8 July 1985. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
- "Interior Design". princessmichael.org.uk.
- Walker, Tim (21 July 2009). "Princess Michael of Kent risks being another statistic of the recession". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- "Art". princessmichael.org.uk.
- Walker, Tim (21 May 2012). "Princess Michael of Kent talks her way into new Russian front". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- "Prince and Princess Michael of Kent - Activities". Royal Household. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
- "A Cheetah's Tale". www.princessmichael.org.uk. Princess Michael of Kent's official website. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
- "Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent Joins Fight to Save Wild Cheetahs as Cheetah Conservation Fund's First Royal Patron". Cheetah Conservation Fund. 4 June 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
- "Corrections to inaccurate media stories about the Royal Family". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
- Cockcroft, Lucy (6 October 2008). "Prince and Princess Michael of Kent to pay £120,000 rent for Kensington Palace flat". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 30 January 2011.
- "Comment on Queen's grace-and-favour apartments". The Mirror. 14 June 2002.
- "Papal Visit 2010: Westminster Cathedral homily – Twitter Feed". Catholic Herald. 18 September 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- "Papal visit: Pope expresses his 'deep sorrow' for abuse". BBC News. 18 September 2010.
- "Translation of remains of Cardinal Newman at his Birmingham Oratory". The Catholic Church in England and Wales. Archived from the original on 21 September 2010.
- "Pope has just met Princess Michael of Kent, Lord & Lady Nicholas Windsor, the Duke of Norfolk, and dignitaries". Catholic Herald – via Twitter.
- "PRESS RELEASE: Green Pilgrimage Network launches with joy, hope, faith and practical plans". ARC. 8 November 2011. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- Hubbard, Lauren (30 July 2019). "Who Is Princess Michael of Kent". Town & Country. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
- "Faces of the week". BBC News. 28 May 2004. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Usbourne, David (27 May 2004). "Princess accused of making racist remark in New York restaurant". The Independent.
- Harding, Luke (17 February 2005). "Princess Michael defends breeding, Botox - and Harry". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- "The fake sheikh and his greatest hits". The Independent. 6 September 2005. Retrieved 10 December 2022.
- Wade, Nicholas (9 October 2007). "How Baboons Think (Yes, Think)". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Dampler, Phil (26 January 2014). "Princess Michael of Kent says old Royals are 'boring' and Princess Diana was 'uneducated'". Daily Express. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- Furness, Hannah (29 September 2015). "Princess Michael of Kent says animals do not have 'rights' because they cannot pay taxes". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
- "Princess Michael of Kent sorry for wearing 'racist' brooch". BBC. 23 December 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
- Fowler, Danielle (29 April 2018). "A royal ex has made further allegations of racism against Princess Michael of Kent". Harper's Bazaar.
- Proctor, Charlie (16 May 2021). "Princess Michael of Kent unwell with blood clots six months on from contracting Covid-19". Royal Central. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
- "About Prince and Princess Michael of Kent". royal.uk. 29 October 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
- "Image: Michael.jpg, (2197 × 1463 px)". royalinsight.net. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "Charities & Organisations - Religion". Princess Michael's official website. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- "The Princess". Princess Michael's website. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- "Members of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George". Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George. 28 January 2013.