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Prince Michael of Kent facts for kids

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Prince Michael
Photo of Prince Michael of Kent
Portrait by Allan Warren, 2014
Born (1942-07-04) 4 July 1942 (age 81)
Coppins, Iver, Buckinghamshire, England
Spouse
Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz
(m. 1978)
Issue
Full name
Michael George Charles Franklin
House Windsor
Father Prince George, Duke of Kent
Mother Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark
Signature Prince Michael's signature
Education
Military career
Service/branch British Army
Years of active service 1961–1981
Rank Major (active service)
Unit 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) The Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales's Own)
Battles/wars Cyprus dispute


Prince Michael of Kent, GCVO, KStJ, CD (Michael George Charles Franklin; born 4 July 1942) is a member of the British royal family, who is 52nd in the line of succession to the British throne as of May 2023. Queen Elizabeth II and Michael were first cousins through their fathers, King George VI, and Prince George, Duke of Kent. Michael's mother Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark was also a first cousin of the Queen's husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, making him both a second cousin and first cousin once removed to King Charles III.

Prince Michael would occasionally represent Queen Elizabeth II at some functions in Commonwealth realms outside the United Kingdom during her reign. Otherwise, he manages his own consultancy business and undertakes various commercial work around the world. He has also presented some television documentaries on the royal families of Europe.

Early life

Prince Michael was born on 4 July 1942, at Coppins, Iver, Buckinghamshire. He was the third child of Prince George, Duke of Kent, who was a son of King George V and Queen Mary and a younger brother of King George VI. At the time of his birth, Michael was seventh in the line of succession to the British throne. His mother was Princess Marina, a daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia.

At his baptism on 4 August 1942 in the Private Chapel of Windsor Castle, his godparents were his paternal uncle the King; Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (for whom her son-in-law Prince Bernhard stood proxy); the King Haakon VII of Norway (his great-uncle); US President Franklin D. Roosevelt (for whom the Duke of Kent stood proxy); Frederica of Hanover, Hereditary Princess of Greece (who was not present), the wife of Paul of Greece, his first cousin-once-removed; the Duke of Gloucester (his paternal uncle, who was absent); the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven (his paternal first cousin twice-removed); and Lady Patricia Ramsay (his paternal first cousin twice-removed). Because of the war, newspaper reports did not identify the location of the baptism and said instead that it took place at "a private chapel in the country".

Seven weeks after Michael's birth, his father was killed in a plane crash near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland, on 25 August 1942.

At the age of five, Prince Michael was a page boy at the wedding of his cousins Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten.

Education and military service

He was educated at Sunningdale School and Eton College and is fluent in French as well as having a "working knowledge" of German and Italian, he was the first member of the royal family to learn Russian, of which he is a qualified interpreter.

Michael entered the Mons Officer Cadet School, in January 1961, from where he was commissioned into the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own). He later served in The Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales's Own) after the amalgamation between the 11th Hussars and the 10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales's Own) in 1969. He saw service in Germany, Hong Kong, and Cyprus, where his squadron formed part of a United Nations peacekeeping force in 1971. Subsequent tours of duty, during a military career that spanned twenty years, included a number of appointments on the Defence Intelligence Staff. He retired from the Army with the rank of Major in 1981.

In 1994, Michael was made Honorary Commodore (later Honorary Rear Admiral and then Vice Admiral) of the Royal Naval Reserve, and in 2002, he was made Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Benson (promoted to Honorary Air Marshal in 2012). From 2009 to 2012, he was Regimental Colonel of the Honourable Artillery Company and on 31 January 2012 became its Royal Honorary Colonel. He is also Colonel-in-Chief of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment in Canada.

Activities and patronages

Michael of Kent
Michael in 2008

As the third child of George V's fourth son, it was not expected that Prince Michael, as the only second son in the extended royal family, would undertake many engagements on behalf of the royal family. He has performed official duties in the Commonwealth realms other than the United Kingdom and has represented the Queen abroad.

He has, however, never received a parliamentary annuity or an allowance from the British Privy Purse, unlike both his elder brother, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and his sister, Princess Alexandra, who both carry out official royal duties. The Prince was given the use of a grace and favour apartment at Kensington Palace upon his marriage in 1978.

Michael represented the Queen at state funerals in India, Cyprus and Swaziland and, with his wife, Princess Michael of Kent, represented the Queen at the independence celebrations in Belize, and at the coronation of King Mswati III of Swaziland.

Michael supports a large number of charities and organisations. Some of his patronages and presidencies include: the Kennel Club, Children's Burns Trust, Maritime Volunteer Service, the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, Life Saving Society, Royal Automobile Club, National Eye Research Centre, Motor Sports Association, Brooklands Museum Trust, the Light Aircraft Association, and the London School of Business and Finance.

He announced his retirement from public life in June 2022 as he approached his 80th birthday.

Marriage

HRH Prince Michael of Kent 6 Allan Warren
Prince Michael, photographed by Allan Warren.

On 30 June 1978, Michael married, at a civil ceremony, at the City Hall (Wiener Rathaus) in Vienna, Austria, the German noblewoman Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz. After receiving Pope John Paul II's permission (a previous pontiff, Pope Paul VI, had barred them from having a Catholic wedding), the couple later received a blessing of their marriage in a Catholic ceremony on 29 June 1983 at Archbishop's House, London.

At the time of the marriage, Marie-Christine von Reibnitz was both a Roman Catholic and a divorcée. She had been married to the banker Thomas Troubridge; they separated in 1973, divorced in 1977, and had their marriage annulled by the Catholic Church a year later, two months before her marriage to Michael. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, Michael forfeited his place in the line of succession to the throne through his marriage to a Catholic. He was reinstated to the line of succession on 26 March 2015 with the coming into force of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, and is 51st in line to the throne as of September 2022.

Michael and Marie-Christine have two children, both brought up as members of the Church of England and therefore in the line of succession to the throne since birth:

Personal interests

Commercial

Prince Michael manages his own consultancy business, and undertakes business throughout the world. He is also a qualified interpreter of Russian.

Masonic

Prince Michael is an active Freemason. He is the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, and Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex.

Russia

Dmitry Medvedev and Michael of Kent
Prince Michael of Kent after his investiture by President Dmitry Medvedev with the Order of Friendship at the Kremlin in 2009. Michael returned the order in 2022.

Prince Michael speaks fluent Russian and has a strong interest in Russia, where he is a well-known figure (he is a former recipient of the Order of Friendship). Tsar Nicholas II was a first cousin of three of his grandparents: George V, Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia. When the bodies of the Tsar and some of his family were recovered in 1991, the remains were later identified by DNA using, among others, a sample from Michael for recognition. He attended the 1998 burial of the Tsar and his family in St Petersburg. He is an honorary member of the Romanov Family Association. He is also the second cousin of Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia, who is a claimant to the headship of the Imperial Family of Russia. They share the same great-grandfather, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich. Michael is the patron of organisations which have close ties with Russia, including the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce and the St Gregory's Foundation. In his capacity as patron of Children's Fire and Burns Trust, Prince Michael has led fundraising rallies in 1999 and 2003 in Russia to raise money for the charity. He also led another rally in 2005 and raised money for the Royal Marsden Hospital and Britain's Charities Aid Foundation Russia.

On 4 March 2022, Michael returned the Order of Friendship in the aftermath of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sport

Prince Michael was a part of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst rowing crew that won the Maiden Fours at Bedford in 1961. Prince Michael competed for Great Britain in the 1971 FIBT World Bobsleigh Championships but crashed and failed to finish the event. He was official non-travelling reserve for the 1972 Winter Olympics. He took part in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally in an Austin Maxi, but he and his crew failed to finish the event.

Media scrutiny

In 2002, both Michael and his wife were the subject of criticism over the rent paid on their accommodation at Kensington Palace following scrutiny by the House of Commons Public Accounts committee on the cost of royal palaces and whether they were value for money. The committee had called on the Queen to evict its residents and put the apartments on a more commercial footing. When it was claimed that the couple paid a rent of only £69 per week for the use of their apartments at Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace announced that "The Queen is paying the rent for Prince and Princess Michael of Kent's apartment at a commercial rate of £120,000 annually, from her own private funds. 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."

Prince Michael has been scrutinized for financial assistance given to him by exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky through offshore companies, with a reported total of £320,000 in payments over the period 2002–2008. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Berezovsky stated, "There is nothing underhand or improper about the financial assistance I have given Prince Michael. It is a matter between friends."

In May 2021 reports were published stating that Michael was "selling access" to Vladimir Putin's political representatives. Footage from a Zoom call was released of Michael, alongside Simon Isaacs, 4th Marquess of Reading, interacting with undercover reporters posing as business executives seeking to make contacts with the Kremlin. In the video, he assured the men that his close ties with the country would be of benefit, and that he could introduce them to high-ranking figures within the Russian government in exchange for money. The call took place the day after the European Union imposed sanctions on the Kremlin. Michael was being offered £143,000 for a proposal and £36,000 a month by the faux businessmen, which he expressed satisfaction with. The Marquess claimed that Michael was the Queen's "unofficial ambassador to Russia" and had direct access to Putin. He later stated that he had "overpromised", while the prince said that he had not had contact with Putin since 2003. In a 2019 interview, Michael stated that he visited Russia twice a year as part of his work for the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce.

Marina Litvinenko denounced the prince's actions, saying that it demonstrated that he didn't "care about human rights, democracy, about the people who are dying in Russia or what he did to your own citizens on UK soil". Conservative MP Bob Seely released a statement saying, in part: "We have sanctions against President Putin's regime for good reason. I'd love to know what Prince Michael thinks he is doing by making the UK's values and standards look optional."

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles

Royal Monogram of Prince Michael of Kent
Royal monogram

As a child of a younger son of a British sovereign, he is styled as a British prince with the prefix His Royal Highness and a territorial designation deriving from his father's dukedom: "His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent".

Unofficial

Nigeria Calabar, Nigeria
  • 2017 – present:
In Efik: Ada Idagha Ke Efik Eburutu
In English: A person of honour and high standing in the Efik Eburutu Kingdom

Honours

Foreign

  •  UN: United Nations Medal for UNFICYP (1971)
  •  Russia: Member of the Order of Friendship (4 November 2009 – 4 March 2022)
  •  Two Sicilies: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I (19 August 2017)
  •  Peru: Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun (2 November 1994)

Honorary military appointments

Canada
  • Canada Colonel-in-Chief, The Essex and Kent Scottish (14 November 2001 – present)
United Kingdom
  • United Kingdom Honorary Commodore, Royal Naval Reserve (1 April 1994 – 2004)
  • United Kingdom Honorary Commodore, Maritime Volunteer Service
  • United Kingdom Honorary Rear Admiral, Royal Naval Reserve (2004–2015)
  • United Kingdom Honorary Vice Admiral, Royal Naval Reserve (9 March 2015 – present)
  • United Kingdom Honorary Auxiliary Commodore, Royal Naval Auxiliary Service (1990)
  • United Kingdom Commodore-in-Chief, Maritime Reserves (2006–present)
  • United Kingdom Honorary Colonel, British Army (10 November 2010 – present)
  • United Kingdom Senior Colonel, The King's Royal Hussars
  • United Kingdom Regimental Colonel, Honourable Artillery Company (2009–2012)
  • United Kingdom Royal Honorary Colonel, Honourable Artillery Company (31 January 2012 – present). (member since 1981)
  • United Kingdom Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Benson (27 June 2002 – 2012)
  • United Kingdom Honorary Air Marshal of RAF Benson (1 March 2012 – present)

Fellowships

  • Grand Master of the Order of Mark Master Masons of England
  • Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation
  • Chartered Institute of Linguists
  • Royal Aeronautical Society
  • Society of Genealogists
  • Institute of Road Safety Officers
  • Institute of the Motor Industry

Honorary academic degrees and awards

Degrees and appointments

  • 1998: Plekhanov Economics Academy, Honorary Doctorate
  • 2003: Sinerghia Economics and Finance Institute, Honorary Professor
  • 2012: St Petersburg University of Humanities and Social Sciences, Honorary Doctorate

Awards

  • 2002: The International Man of the Year Award, Plekhanov Economics Academy
  • 2003: The "Glory of Russia", Plekhanov Economics Academy

Arms

Issue

Name Birth Marriage Issue
Lord Frederick Windsor 6 April 1979 12 September 2009 Sophie Winkleman Maud Windsor
Isabella Windsor
Lady Gabriella Kingston 23 April 1981 18 May 2019 Thomas Kingston

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Miguel de Kent para niños

  • List of British princes
Black History Month on Kiddle
African-American Astronauts:
Stephanie Wilson
Charles Bolden
Ronald McNair
Frederick D. Gregory
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