|Prince and Princess Michael of Kent|
In 2013, while the rest of the nation were festively rejoicing the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent had their own reason to call that year a milestone in their lives--they celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. In a family plagued by divorce and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent's marriage is a deviation, although that didn't come without any controversy. Given their high profile lifestyle, busy schedule and constant separation from one another due to commitments, not to mention the many tales of alleged extra-marital affairs, it is still refreshing to learn that the Prince and Princess still find their marriage strong and sturdy. Scandal and intrigue is nothing new to the Kents.
After all, their marriage almost rocked the Royal Family, to the magnitude that could have matched the Edward-Wallis Affair, or the Margaret-Townsend fling, had Prince Michael been a closer heir to the Throne. But there's no need for that. While the Prince lost his rights to inherit the throne because he married the divorced, former Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz, the woman he truly loves, it was quick and easy for his cousin Queen Elizabeth II, to grant royal dispensation to the marriage. And so they wed in Vienna.
Prince Michael of Kent was born July 4, 1942. He is the younger son and third child of Prince George, Duke of Kent, fourth son and fifth child of King George V and Queen Mary, and of Princess Marina, youngest daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Grand Duchess Helen of Russia.
Prince Michael was only seven months old when his father died of plane crash in Scotland. His older brother, Prince Edward, succeeded to his father’s title as Duke of Kent. As the younger son, Prince Michael was not expected to carry out official duties, and so, he enjoyed relative obscurity as a member of the Royal Family. His marriage in 1978 to Marie-Christine Troubridge (born Baroness von Reibnitz) changed all that.
Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz was born January 15, 1945. His father was Baron Gunther von Reibnitz, a German, while her mother was Countess Marianne Szapary, a Hungarian noblewoman. The future Princess Michael was married to English banker Thomas Troubridge in 1971, but their marriage ended up in separation two years later. They were finally divorced in 1976.
Shortly afterwards, she met Prince Michael and the two fell in love with each another. Royal biographer Sarah Bradford, in Elizabeth: A Biography of Her Majesty The Queen (2002) mentioned that the Queen was far from overjoyed of her cousin’s marital prospects. Instead, “she would have preferred a less exotic bride.”
Her Majesty was persuaded into it by Lord Mountbatten, the royal matchmaker, who felt paternal obligation towards Michael and was charmed by Marie-Christine. Elizabeth had little room to act; rejection of a bride of a minor member of the family on the grounds that she was divorced and of the wrong religion would understandably have led to a good deal of criticism, and so, after the approval of the Privy Council, she gave her formal agreement. The wedding took place in Vienna in 1978, the birthplace of the bride’s mother. The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 barred members of the Royal Family from getting married on civil ceremonies in England.
At the last moment, the Pope, who had granted an annulment of Marie-Christine’s first marriage, refused a dispensation for a church wedding, almost certainly because the children of the first marriage were to be brought up as Protestants in order to preserve their rights of succession to the Throne.
The Vatican eventually relented and the couple were given formal blessings in July 1983 in a ceremony at Westminster Cathedral. Their marriage was gifted by two children, Lord Frederick, born 1979, and Lady Gabriella, born 1983. The Queen gave them a grace-and-favor apartment at Kensington Palace, while they maintained their country home at Nether Lypiatt, a 17th century mansion in Gloucestershire, which they eventually sold.
As junior male representative of the Kent family, Prince Michael is not required to carry out official engagements. The couple does not also receive any public funds and their activities are not recorded at the Court Circular. But there were a handful of events when the couple where requested to stand in on behalf of the Crown. In 1981, the couple represented the Queen at the independence celebrations for Belize and in 1982, Princess Michael represented Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on certain engagements.
Prince and Princess Michael remain actively involved in various interests. Prince Michael is running his own consultancy firm, Cantium Services, while Princess Michael busies herself in writing books and doing lecture works, not to mention that they continue attending state and royal events. On top of that, they do also have their own charities to support and causes to espouse, making them as busy as other working members of the Royal Family.
The couple’s marriage is never far from perfect. There were times when their marital bliss was rocked by scandals and intrigued of infidelity, but at the end of the day, couple remains together and through the years their marriage continues to be a royal match to last a lifetime.