Thursday, September 15, 2005

Royal Profile: Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester

The former Birgitte Eva van Deurs, was born in Odense, Denmark, on June 20, 1946. She is the younger daughter of the late Asger Preben Wissing Henriksen, and the late Vivian van Deurs. When her parents separated she took her maternal grandparents surname, Van Deurs.

She was brought up in Demark before attending Brillantmont School in Lausanne and subsequently the Bell School of Languages, Cambridge, where in 1965, she met Prince Richard of Gloucester (now Duke of Gloucester). The following year she returned to Copenhagen, where she took a three-year diploma course in commerical and economic studies. Immediately before her marriage she worked at the Royal Danish Embassy in London.

In February 1972 her engagement was annnounced and the marriage took place at St. Andrew's Church, Barnwell Northamptonshire on July 8, 1972. Prince Richard was pursuing a full-time career in architecture and the couple had intended on living in London when, six weeks after their wedding, Prince Richard's elder brother, Prince William, was killed in a flying accident. In 1974, on the death of Prince Richard's father, the couple became the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

The Duchess received the Royal family order from the Queen in 1973. She was made a Dame of Justice of the Order of St John in 1974 and she was created a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian order in 1989. She is Sponsor of two Royal Navy ships: HMS Gloucester and HMS Sandown. She holds freedoms to the cities of London and Gloucester and holds honorary appointments and rank in the Armed Services. She is associated as Patron or President of a large number of organizations, mainly ones with medical and artistic associations.

The Duchess of Gloucester has frequently accompanied her husband on official visits overseas. Her visit was in 1973, when the couple represented The Queen at the 70th birthday celebrations of King Olav of Norway. Other visits that they have undertaken together include the Middle East, Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Nepal, Australia, Spain, the United States, Japan, Gibraltar, New Zealand, Sweden, Luxembourg, Belgium, Portugal, Mexico, South Africa, Tunisia and China. She has also travelled to Germany and Cyprus in support of her own patronages.

The couple live in Kensington Palace and at Barnwell Manor, Northhamptonshire. They have three children, Alexander, Earl of Ulster, born 1974, Lady Davina Lewis (nee Windsor), born 1977, and Lady Rose Windsor, born 1980.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

No comments: