Princess Michael of Kent facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsMarie-Christine
|Princess Michael of Kent
Photograph by Allan Warren, 1999
|Baroness Marie-Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz
15 January 1945
Karlsbad, Greater German Reich
(now Czech Republic)
|Windsor (by marriage)
|Baron Günther von Reibnitz
|Countess Maria Szapáry von Muraszombath
Princess Michael of Kent FLS (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 familySilesian 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., uradel
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.
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.
Princess Michael of Kent is a Roman Catholic, and attended several events during Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010.
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.
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. As Prince Michael was the only male line grandson of King George V not granted a royal peerage on marriage, 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
|Lady Gabriella Kingston
|23 April 1981
|18 May 2019
In Spanish: María Cristina de Reibnitz para niños
Princess Michael of Kent Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.