Katharine, Duchess of Kent

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HRH The Duchess of Kent at the Wimbledon championships

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent (Katharine Lucy Mary Windsor, née Worsley), styled HRH The Duchess of Kent (born February 22, 1933), is a member of the British Royal Family, the wife of HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, a grandson of King George V and cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Duchess of Kent is best known for her conversion to Roman Catholicism, the first senior royal to do so since the passing of the Act of Settlement 1701. She has also gained attention for preferring to be known in her private life as Katharine Kent, and in 2002, she voluntarily gave up the style of Royal Highness, though she continues to be styled as such in the Court Circular. She also has expressed a preference for being known formally as Katharine, Duchess of Kent, a style usually reserved for divorced peeresses.

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.

Contents

Early life

Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley was born in 1933 at Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire, and was the only daughter of Sir William Arthrington Worsley, 4th Bt., and his wife, Joyce Morgan, daughter of Sir John Brunner, the founder of Brunner Mond, which later became ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries).

She was educated at Queen Margaret's School near York and at Runton Hill School in Norfolk. At school she was introduced to music, and was taught to play the piano, organ and violin, which she still plays today. She later worked for some time in a children's home in York and taught at a kindergarten in London, before going on to Oxford to study music.

Marriage

On June 8, 1961, she married HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, the eldest son of HRH Prince George, Duke of Kent and HRH Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, at York Minster. After her marriage she was styled HRH The Duchess of Kent.

TRH 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, which she has spoken about publicly.

Catholicism

The Duchess of Kent was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1994. 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!"

Although the Act of Settlement 1701 means a member of the Royal Family marrying a Roman Catholic relinquishes their right of succession to the British throne, the Act does not include marriage to an Anglican who subsequently converts to Roman Catholicism. 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, has also converted to Catholicism.

Later years

The Duchess of Kent decided to relinquish her royal style in 2002 and reduce the amount of royal duties she carries out. She became the second person in the royal family to do so, the first being Princess Patricia of Connaught, who (for wish of having a closer title to that of her fiancé, The Hon. Sir Alexander Ramsay) relinquished her title, and adopting the style Lady Patricia Windsor, shortly afterwards Ramsay. Since then she has been informally known as Katharine Kent. Her formal style remains HRH The Duchess of Kent however, and this is how she is styled in the Court Circular. However, when she made a formal appearance to hand out awards at the BBC's Young Musician of the Year competition in 2002, she asked the organizers to introduce her as "Katharine, Duchess of Kent."

In line with her less formal role, the Duchess took a position as a music teacher in Wansbeck Primary School in Hull.

The Duchess has been dogged by press reports that she and her husband have lived apart for many years and that they intend to divorce; however, the divorce reports have not been substantiated. Reports by the BBC have stated that the Duchess suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, while the Mail on Sunday reported that she suffers from depression. As she told the BBC in 2004, when asked to comment on rumors about her being depressed, "Aren't we all? We all get slightly low periods in our lives, don't we?" In 1998, she told an interviewer about her lack of confidence. "I can still be very shy walking into a room full of strangers," she said. "I know how to do it, but I have never gained confidence. It is one of the reasons I am always trying to boost other people's self-esteem – because I know what it's like not to have it."

Styles and titles

  • Miss Katharine Worsley (1933-1961)
  • Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent (1961-)
  • Informally,
    • Katharine, Duchess of Kent (2002-present)
    • Katharine Kent (1990s-present)

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

Honorary military appointments

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