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Katharine, Duchess of Kent

Duchess of Kent (more)
The Duchess at the Trooping the Colour, June 2013
Born (1933-02-22) 22 February 1933
Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire
Spouse Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
(m. 1961)
Issue George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews
Lady Helen Taylor
Lord Nicholas Windsor
Full name
Katharine Lucy Mary[1]
House House of Windsor (by marriage)
Father Sir William Worsley, 4th Bt.
Mother Joyce Morgan Brunner
Religion Roman Catholic
(prev. Church of England)

Katharine, Duchess of Kent Queen Mary, and first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Duchess of Kent gained attention for her conversion to Catholicism in 1994, the first senior Royal to convert publicly since the passing of the Act of Settlement 1701. The Duchess of Kent is strongly associated with the world of music, and has performed as a member of several choirs. She is also well known as the presenter of trophies at the annual Wimbledon lawn tennis championships — a role she inherited from her mother-in-law, Princess Marina, and has since relinquished. As a known football fan, she also has attended — and presented the trophy - at more FA Cup finals than any other member of the Royal Family.

She prefers to be known in her private life as "Katharine Kent", and has also expressed a preference for being known as "Katharine, Duchess of Kent". However, her formal title remains "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent".


  • Early life 1
  • Marriage 2
  • Children 3
  • Catholicism 4
  • Recent years 5
  • Charity work 6
  • Titles, styles, honours and arms 7
    • Titles and styles 7.1
    • Honours 7.2
      • Honorary military appointments 7.2.1
      • Organisations named after the Duchess 7.2.2
    • Arms 7.3
  • Issue 8
  • Ancestry 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life

Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley was born at Sir John Brunner, 2nd Baronet and granddaughter of Sir John Brunner, 1st Baronet, the founder of Brunner Mond, which later became ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries). She is a descendant of Oliver Cromwell.[2] Worsley was christened at All Saints' Church, Hovingham on 2 April 1933. Her godparents were: Sir Felix Brunner, 3rd Baronet (her maternal uncle); Major Sir Digby Lawson, 2nd Baronet; Mrs Arthur Colegate (her paternal aunt); and Mrs Ronald Fife.[3]

She was educated at violin, which she still plays today. She later worked for some time in a children's home in York and worked at a nursery school in London. She failed to gain admission to the Royal Academy of Music but followed her brothers to Oxford, where they were at the University, to study at Miss Hubler's Finishing School, 22 Merton Street, devoting much of her time to music.


On 8 June 1961, she married Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, at York Minster.

Guests included actors Noël Coward and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as well as members of the British and Spanish royal families.[4]

The bride's gown was designed by John Cavanagh, and she wore a diamond bandeau tiara lent by her mother-in-law.[5]

She had three pages:

  • William Worsley
  • Edward Beckett (now Lord Grimthorpe)
  • Simon Hay, son of royal lady-in-waiting Lady Margaret Seymour[6]

and eight bridesmaids:

After her marriage she was styled Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent.


The Duke and Duchess of Kent have three children:

The couple also had a stillborn child in 1977, a loss that caused the Duchess to fall into a state of severe depression, about which she has spoken publicly.


The Duchess of Kent was received into the Catholic Church in 1994.[10] This was a personal decision, and she received the approval of The Queen. As she explained in an interview on BBC, "I do love guidelines and the Catholic Church offers you guidelines. I have always wanted that in my life. I like to know what's expected of me. I like being told: You shall go to church on Sunday and if you don't you're in for it!"[11] Basil Hume, then Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and thus spiritual leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, warned the Church against triumphalism over the Duchess's conversion.

Although the Act of Settlement 1701 means a member of the Royal Family marrying a Catholic relinquishes their right of succession to the British throne, the Act does not include marriage to an Anglican who subsequently becomes a Catholic. Therefore, the Duke of Kent did not lose his place in the line of succession to the British throne.

Since then her younger son, Lord Nicholas Windsor, her grandson, Edward Windsor, Lord Downpatrick, and her granddaughter Lady Marina Charlotte Windsor have also become Catholics. Her older son, the Earl of St. Andrews, father of Lord Downpatrick, married a Catholic and thus had been excluded from the succession until the Succession to the Crown Act revoked that exclusion in 2015. The Dukedom of Kent is not subject to the Act of Settlement, so St Andrews' son and heir, Lord Downpatrick, is in line to become the first Roman Catholic Duke or Earl of Kent since the Reformation.

Recent years

Reports by the BBC stated that the Duchess suffered from coeliac disease and Epstein-Barr virus, whose symptoms resemble those of ME or chronic fatigue syndrome, while the Mail on Sunday reported that she suffered from depression. By 1999 she had apparently completely recovered from chronic ill-health, and when asked by the Daily Mail what had suddenly changed, she answered, without elaboration, that she had been suffering unknowingly from coeliac disease.[12] She stepped down from her role as head of the M.E. Society in the UK after this new diagnosis, and has since energetically worked with various charities and schools. When asked by the Daily Mail in 1999 about her long history of illness, her reply was simply that "none of us goes through life unscathed".[11]

In 1999, the Duchess of Kent was refused permission to seat the 12-year-old son of a friend in the Royal Box at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Alternative seating outside the box was offered. She later received what The Daily Telegraph reported in a front-page story was a "curt letter" from club chairman John Curry, reminding her that children, other than members of the royal family, were not permitted in the Royal Box. She, in turn, threatened a boycott of the Royal Box.[13]

The Duchess of Kent decided in 2002 not to use personally the style 'Her Royal Highness' and to reduce her royal duties. Since then she has been informally known as Katharine Kent, although her formal style (e.g. in the

In keeping with her withdrawal from full royal duties, the Duchess took a position as a music teacher in Wansbeck Primary School in Kingston upon Hull for thirteen years. In 2005 the Duchess spoke in an interview on BBC Radio 3 of her liking of rap music and of the singer/songwriter Dido, whose song "Thank You" she chose as one of her favourite pieces of music.[14][15] She is patron of national charity, Making Music,[16] the National Federation of Music Societies, an umbrella organisation for amateur and voluntary music groups.

Charity work

The Duchess of Kent is a Trustee of the National Foundation for Youth Music (London), former President and Board Member of the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester), and an ambassador for Aldeburgh Productions in Suffolk.[17] The Duchess of Kent has travelled the world for UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Fund) and VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas), highlighting specific areas of deprivation.[17] In 1999 she visited Cambodia, Macedonia and Nepal.[17] She has been President of NCH Action For Children and President and Board Member of Macmillan Cancer Relief.[17] She chaired the London Committee of the Manchester Christie (Cancer) Hospital Appeal for £25m.[17] The Duchess is Patron of the RUC Benevolent Fund in Northern Ireland.[17]

She has been Visitor to the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, Patron of Queensland Conservatorium, Brisbane, Australia, the Yehudi Menuhin School (UK), the Ulster Conservatoire of Music and the Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.[17] The Duchess of Kent holds the Honorary Freedom of four of the ancient City companies: the Worshipful Companies of Clothworkers, Dyers, Glaziers, and the Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers.[17]

In 2004, the Duchess of Kent together with Nicholas Robinson (Headmaster, King's College School, Cambridge) launched Future Talent, a children's music charity dedicated to finding, funding and nurturing exceptionally talented young musicians in the UK.[18] Through tailor-made partnerships with primary schools, Future Talent is bringing music into the lives of all children, spotting talent, equipping talented children with instruments and tuition and, in exceptional cases, providing master tuition to enable them to make music their future.[17]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 22 February 1933 – 8 June 1961: Miss Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley
  • 8 June 1961 – present: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent

Her full title is Her Royal Highness Princess Edward, Duchess of Kent, Countess of Saint Andrews and Baroness Downpatrick, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.


See also List of honours of the British Royal Family by country


Honorary military appointments

United Kingdom

and formerly

Organisations named after the Duchess


Arms of Katharine, Duchess of Kent
Coat of Arms of Katharine, Duchess of Kent, depicting her husband's arms impaled with those of her father.
Coronet of a Grandchild of the Sovereign
HRH The Duke of Kent's arms impaled with those of her father.
The Royal Supporters differenced with the like coronet and label.
The Royal Victorian Order circlet.
Other elements
Insignia of GCVO appended


Name Birth Marriage Issue
George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews 26 June 1962 9 January 1988 Sylvana Tomaselli Edward Windsor, Lord Downpatrick
Lady Marina Charlotte Windsor
Lady Amelia Windsor
Lady Helen Taylor 28 April 1964 18 July 1992 Timothy Taylor Columbus Taylor
Cassius Taylor
Eloise Taylor
Estella Taylor
Lord Nicholas Windsor 25 July 1970 4 November 2006 Paola Doimi de Lupis de Frankopan Albert Windsor
Leopold Windsor
Louis Windsor


Katharine is a descendant of Oliver Cromwell (25 April 1599 – 3 September 1658), 1st Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland (1653–1658), by his last daughter Frances Cromwell (1638–1720), through the Russells, the Franklands and the Worsleys.[19]

See also


  1. ^ As a titled royal, Katharine holds no surname, however she chooses to use her husband's territorial designation, Kent
  2. ^ Le Petit Gotha
  3. ^ Yvonne's Royalty Home Page — Royal Christenings
  4. ^ British Pathe newsreel 'Wedding at York'
  5. ^ The Duchess of Kent's gown
  6. ^ Simon Hay page at
  7. ^ Sandra Butter at Lundy, Darryl. "p. 11275 § 112750". The Peerage. 
  8. ^ Joanna Fitzroy page at Lundy, Darryl. "p. 1324 § 13233". The Peerage. 
  9. ^ Willa Worsley page at Lundy, Darryl. "p. 5273 § 52723". The Peerage. 
  10. ^ BBC News - Duchess of Kent joins the Catholic Church
  11. ^ a b "Royal Family: Katharine, Duchess of Kent turns 80". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "Quiet Royal pipes up (section title)". The Daily Mail. 10 October 2008. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  13. ^ "UKWimbledon chief says sorry to duchess". The BBC online. 22 September 1999. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  14. ^ "Private Passions,Katherine, Duchess of Kent". BBC radio 3. 25 August 2005. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  15. ^ "Duchess's secret life as teacher".  
  • ^ Making Music
  • ^ a b c d e f g h i "The Duchess of Kent - Public role". Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  • ^ "Local musicians get royal approval". The BBC. 28 October 2005. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  • ^ "Ancestry of Katharine Worsley". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  • ^
  • External links

    • Future Talent Charity Website
    • - The Duke and Duchess of Kent
    Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
    Preceded by
    The Duchess of Gloucester
    HRH The Duchess of Kent
    Succeeded by
    Princess Michael of Kent
    Academic offices
    Preceded by
    Mary, Princess Royal
    Chancellor of the University of Leeds
    Succeeded by
    Melvyn Bragg
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