Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester facts for kids

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Birgitte
Duchess of Gloucester (more)
Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester 2015.jpg
The Duchess in 2015
Born Birgitte Eva Henriksen
20 June 1946 (1946-06-20) (age 72)
Odense, Denmark
Spouse
Issue
  • Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster
  • Lady Davina Lewis
  • Lady Rose Gilman
House Windsor (by marriage)
Father Asger Henriksen
Mother Vivian van Deurs

Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, GCVO (born Birgitte Eva Henriksen, later van Deurs; 20 June 1946), is the wife of Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

Early life

Birgitte was born Birgitte Eva 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.

She took her mother's ancestral name van Deurs on 15 January 1966, when her parents separated. After studying for three years in Copenhagen, she moved back to England in 1971 to work at the Danish Embassy in London.

Marriage

Duke and Duchess of Glocstrer
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester

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. In February 1972, they became engaged. The groom designed her coral and silver engagement ring. They married on 8 July 1972 at St Andrew's Church, Barnwell, Northamptonshire. The bride's wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell. It had a "high collar, simple skirt and small train, and long sleeves all done in white Swiss organdie with a floral embossing." Instead of wearing a tiara, the bride wore stephanotis flowers on her hair which secured the veil.

Six weeks after their wedding, Prince Richard's elder brother, Prince William, 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.

The couple have three children: Alexander (born 1974), Davina (born 1977), and Rose (born 1980).

Activities

The Duchess of Gloucester, Brisbane, March 1979
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. 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.

Birgitte has also travelled overseas in support of her own patronages and military units, including a visit to Iraq in December 2008.

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. 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.

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; Bliss, the special care baby charity; and Music in Hospitals & Care. 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; St John's School, Leatherhead; Bridewell Royal Hospital (King Edward's School, Witley); the Royal Alexandra and Albert School; the Children's Society; Parkinson's UK; Hope for Youth Northern Ireland; Scottish Opera; and Lawn Tennis Association.

After the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Birgitte became President of the Royal Academy of Music. She is also the patron of Prostate Cancer UK, and in March 2006, she opened the Prostate Centre.

The Duke and Duchess live in London at Kensington Palace, their official royal residence.

Related Pages

Royal family on the balcony
The British royal family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace


Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.