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Steadfast Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy

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Princess Alexandra of Kent in 1961.

Princess Alexandra of Kent in 1961.

H.R.H. Princess Alexandra of Kent

Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra of Kent was the 2nd child born to George, Duke of Kent and his wife and duchess Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. Her paternal grandparents were King George V and Queen Mary.

Alexandra was born at 3 Belgrave Square in London on the 25th December 1936, and she was given the names Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel. Alexandra was chosen in honour of her great grandmother Queen Alexandra, King Edward VII’s wife. Helen (Elena), Elizabeth and Olga were royal relations, and Christabel was a reference to her Christmastime arrival.

Alexandra’s was the last royal birth to be attended by the Home Secretary, a practice that ensured the baby was truly royal and not an imposter.

Alexandra's parents George and Marina, Duke and Duchess of Kent. George was the 4th son of King George V and Queen Mary.

Alexandra's parents George and Marina, Duke and Duchess of Kent. George was the 4th son of King George V and Queen Mary.

6th in Line to the British Throne

Alexandra’s arrival was just a couple of weeks after her uncle “David” or King Edward VIII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson. Her christening was held the following February in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace, and the newly installed King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were chosen as godparents alongside European royal relations and Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest child.

At her birth, Alexandra was 6th in line to the British throne; as of summer 2022, she’s 57th in the line of succession. Through her father, she is a 1st cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, and through her mother, she was a 1st cousin once removed of Prince Philip. This means that she is simultaneously a 2nd cousin and a 1st cousin once removed of Prince Charles.

Princess Alexandra of Kent aged 11.

Princess Alexandra of Kent aged 11.

Royal Childhood and Tragedy

Alexandra’s elder brother Edward, the current Duke of Kent, was born in October 1935. Her younger brother Michael did not arrive until July 1941.

The Kent’s country home was Coppins in Iver, Buckinghamshire. The property had been bequeathed to the Duke of Kent by George V’s sister Victoria (“Toria”) in late 1936.

When World War II was declared, Alexandra’s parents took up significant roles in the military and support networks. The young princess lived with Queen Mary at Badminton, Gloucestershire, the rural seat of the Dukes of Beaufort. Mary’s niece Victoria Constance Mary, known as Mary, was then the 10th Duchess of Beaufort.

Tragically, on the 25th August 1942, George, Duke of Kent, died in an air crash in Scotland while on duty with the Royal Air Force.

This left the duchess and her elder children bereft. Prince Michael was just over a year old. Financially, life became more difficult for the Kent family. Marina sold many of her jewels and worked hard as a royal representative to secure her royal wages. She never remarried. She died on 27th August 1968 from a brain tumour. This was 26 years and 2 days after her husband’s demise.

Princess Alexandra and the Hon. Angus Ogilvy’s Wedding

Love: The Honourable Angus Ogilvy

Alexandra was the first princess in British history to attend a boarding school, Heathfield School in Ascot, close to Windsor Castle. She finished her education in Paris. She received nursing training at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, but she did not pursue nursing as a career. She became a working royal in the late 1950s. In 1961 Princess Alexandra received her own coat of arms.

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On the 24th April 1963, Alexandra married The Honourable Angus Ogilvy (1928-2004); he was a businessman and the 2nd son of the 12th Earl and Countess of Airlie. The earl was Elizabeth, the Queen Mother’s Lord Chamberlain. Angus and Alexandra met one another in 1955, and it was a love match.

The wedding at Westminster Abbey was televised, and approximately 200 million people watched from around the world. The wedding was attended by countless royals from Britain and around Europe. Edward, Duke of Kent, walked her down the aisle, and Princess Anne was the chief bridesmaid. Michael Ramsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury officiated.

Thatched Lodge House, Richmond. The Ogilvy home since 1963.

Thatched Lodge House, Richmond. The Ogilvy home since 1963.

Mr. and Mrs. Ogilvy of Thatched Lodge House

Elizabeth II had offered Angus Ogilvy an earldom as a wedding gift. He declined the honour, so when Angus and Alexandra’s children, James Robert Bruce and Marina Victoria Alexandra, were born in 1964 and 1966, neither child was given a title. Alexandra was styled as Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Mrs. Ogilvy.

Angus accepted a knighthood in 1988. At this point, Alexandra’s title altered to Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy.

The family home from 1963 has been Thatched Lodge House in Richmond, London. Angus took out a 150-year lease on the crown property. Apartments in St. James’ Palace in London offered a convenient central base for the Ogilvys. Alexandra still resides in both homes.

A Dignified Working Royal

Princess Alexandra has been a working royal since the late 1950s. She still officially represents the queen.

Much of the 1960s was spent on overseas tours on behalf of Elizabeth II. Through the decades, she has undertaken tours of several countries, including Thailand, Japan, Australia, Nigeria, Oman and New Zealand. She steadfastly carried out approximately 120 visits annually in Britain for several decades, reducing these slightly as her health dictated.

She holds honorary military appointments in Britain and the Commonwealth, has acted as chancellor to several universities and is an honourable fellow of at least four medical royal colleges. A plethora of domestic and international honours have been bestowed on her.

She is the president of the Alexandra Rose Day, which takes place each June. Queen Alexandra established this charitable fundraising event in 1912. Tradition dictates that the Prime Minister of the day is the 1st to raise funds by purchasing a rose.

The Ogilvy Family Feud

Angus and Alexandra’s daughter Marina was cast as the wild child of the royal family by the media. She fell pregnant while still unmarried in 1989, which caused a sensation and a feud with her parents, who allegedly suggested two options, marriage or an abortion. Marina sold her story to the newspapers. You can learn more here:

She married but later divorced the father of her children Paul Mowatt in the full glare of the media. Marina and Paul’s children, Zenouska and Christian, live as private citizens with their own careers; they happen to have royal relations.

James was an easier proposition. He attended boarding school with the queen’s youngest son Prince Edward, now Earl of Wessex, before creating a successful career in business. He married Dr. Julia Rawlinson in 1988, and their children are Flora and Alexander. James is a godfather to Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s younger daughter Princess Eugenie.

Sir Angus Ogilvy passed away from throat cancer on Boxing Day 2004, the day after Alexandra’s 68th birthday.

Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy in April 2010.

Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy in April 2010.

Alexandra: The Dedicated Royal

In late 2016 Queen Elizabeth II hosted a lunch in Alexandra’s honour to celebrate her long service to the crown, country and her charities. Today, Alexandra still maintains a busy diary of events, visits and patronages. Like her cousin Elizabeth II, she shows no sign of wishing to retire from her royal duties.

Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Joanne Hayle

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