Prince Michael of Kent

Prince Michael of Kent, GCVO, CD (Michael George Charles Franklin; born 4 July 1942) is a member of the British royal family. He is a paternal first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, being a grandson of King George V and Queen Mary. As of September 2021 Prince Michael was 52nd in the line of succession to the British throne.

Prince Michael
Photo of Prince Michael of Kent
Portrait by Allan Warren, 2014
Born (1942-07-04) 4 July 1942 (age 79)
Coppins, Iver, Buckinghamshire, England
Spouse
Issue
Names
Michael George Charles Franklin[notes 1]
HouseWindsor
FatherPrince George, Duke of Kent
MotherPrincess Marina of Greece and Denmark
Education
Military career
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1961–1981 (active service)
RankMajor (active service)
Unit11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) The Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales's Own)
Battles/warsCyprus dispute

Prince Michael occasionally represents the Queen at some functions in Commonwealth realms outside the United Kingdom. Otherwise, he manages his own consultancy business and undertakes various commercial work around the world. He has also presented some television documentaries on the royal families of Europe.

Early lifeEdit

Prince Michael was born during the Second World War on 4 July 1942, at Coppins, Iver, Buckinghamshire.[1] He was the third child of Prince George, Duke of Kent, who was a son of King George V and Queen Mary and a younger brother of King George VI. At the time of his birth Michael was seventh in the line of succession to the British throne. His mother was Princess Marina, a daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia.

At his baptism on 4 August 1942 in the Private Chapel of Windsor Castle, his godparents were his paternal uncle the King; Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (for whom her son-in-law Prince Bernhard stood proxy); the King Haakon VII of Norway (his great-uncle); US President Franklin D. Roosevelt (for whom the Duke of Kent stood proxy);[2] Frederica of Hanover, Hereditary Princess of Greece (who was not present), the wife of Paul of Greece, his first cousin-once-removed; the Duke of Gloucester (his paternal uncle, who was absent); the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven (his paternal first cousin twice-removed); and Lady Patricia Ramsay (his paternal first cousin twice-removed). Because of the war, newspaper reports did not identify the location of the baptism and said instead that it took place at "a private chapel in the country".[3]

Seven weeks after Michael's birth, his father was killed in a plane crash near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland, on 25 August 1942.

At the age of five, Prince Michael was a page boy at the wedding of his cousins Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten.[4]

Education and military serviceEdit

He was educated at Sunningdale School and Eton College.[5] In addition to being fluent in French and having a "working knowledge"[6] of German and Italian,[6] he was the first member of the royal family to learn Russian,[5] of which he is a qualified interpreter.[6]

Prince Michael entered the Mons Officer Cadet School, in January 1961, from where he was commissioned into the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own), he later served in The Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales's Own) after the 1969 amalgamation between the 11th Hussars and the 10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales's Own). He saw service in Germany, Hong Kong, and Cyprus, where his squadron formed part of a United Nations peacekeeping force in 1971. Subsequent tours of duty, during a military career that spanned twenty years, included a number of appointments on the Defence Intelligence Staff. He retired from the Army with the rank of Major in 1981.[7][8]

In 1994, Prince Michael was made Honorary Commodore (later Honorary Rear Admiral and then Vice Admiral) of the Royal Naval Reserve, and in 2002, he was made Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Benson (promoted to Honorary Air Marshal in 2012). From 2009 to 2012, he was Regimental Colonel of the Honourable Artillery Company and on 31 January 2012 became its Royal Honorary Colonel.[9] He is also Colonel-in-Chief of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment in Canada.

Activities and patronagesEdit

 
Prince Michael of Kent in 2008

As the third child of George V's fourth son, it was not expected that Prince Michael, as the only second son in the extended royal family, would undertake many engagements on behalf of the royal family. He has performed official duties in the Commonwealth realms other than the United Kingdom and has represented the Queen abroad.

He has, however, never received a parliamentary annuity or an allowance from the British Privy Purse, unlike both his elder brother, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and his sister, Princess Alexandra, who both carry out official royal duties in the United Kingdom and receive British parliamentary annuities. The Prince was given the use of a grace and favour apartment at Kensington Palace upon his marriage in 1978.[10]

Prince Michael has represented the Queen at state funerals in India, Cyprus and Swaziland and, with his wife, Princess Michael of Kent, represented the Queen at the independence celebrations in Belize, and at the coronation of King Mswati III of Swaziland.

Prince Michael supports a large number of charities and organisations.[11] Some of his patronages and presidencies include: the Kennel Club,[12] Children's Burns Trust,[13] Maritime Volunteer Service,[14] the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships,[15] Life Saving Society,[16] Royal Automobile Club,[17] National Eye Research Centre,[18] Motor Sports Association,[19] Brooklands Museum Trust,[20] the Light Aircraft Association,[21] and the London School of Business and Finance.[22]

MarriageEdit

 
Prince Michael, photographed by Allan Warren.

On 30 June 1978, Prince Michael was married, at a civil ceremony, at the Rathaus, Vienna, Austria, to the German noblewoman Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz. After receiving Pope John Paul II's permission (a previous pontiff, Pope Paul VI, had barred them from having a Catholic wedding),[23] the couple later received a blessing of their marriage in a Catholic ceremony on 29 June 1983 at Archbishop's House, London.

At the time of the marriage, Marie-Christine von Reibnitz was not only a Roman Catholic, but also a divorcée. She had been married to the banker Thomas Troubridge; they separated in 1973, divorced in 1977, and had their marriage annulled by the Catholic Church a year later, two months before her marriage to Prince Michael. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, Prince Michael forfeited his place in the line of succession to the throne through his marriage to a Catholic.[24] He was reinstated to the line of succession on 26 March 2015 with the coming into force of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, and was 51st in line to the throne as of June 2021.

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have two children, both of whom were brought up as members of the Church of England, and have therefore been in the line of succession to the throne since birth:

Personal interestsEdit

CommercialEdit

Prince Michael manages his own consultancy business, and undertakes business throughout the world.[25] He is also a qualified interpreter of Russian.[26][27]

MasonicEdit

Prince Michael is an active Freemason.[28] He is the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons,[29] and Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex.[30]

RussiaEdit

 
Prince Michael of Kent after his investiture by President Dmitry Medvedev with the Order of Friendship at the Kremlin in 2009

Prince Michael speaks fluent Russian[31] and has a strong interest in Russia, where he is a well-known figure (he is a recipient of the Order of Friendship). Tsar Nicholas II was a first cousin of three of his grandparents: George V, Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia. When the bodies of the Tsar and some of his family were recovered in 1991, the remains were later identified by DNA using, among others, a sample from Prince Michael for recognition.[32] He attended the 1998 burial of the Tsar and his family in St Petersburg.[33] He is an honorary member of the Romanov Family Association.[34] He is also the second cousin of Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia, who is a claimant to the headship of the Imperial Family of Russia. They share the same great-grandfather, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich. Prince Michael is the patron of organisations which have close ties with Russia, including the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce and the St Gregory's Foundation.[35] In his capacity as patron of Children's Fire and Burns Trust, Prince Michael has led fundraising rallies in 1999 and 2003 in Russia to raise money for the charity. He also led another rally in 2005 and raised money for the Royal Marsden Hospital and Britain's Charities Aid Foundation Russia.[35]

In May 2021 reports were published stating that Michael was "selling access" to Vladimir Putin's political representatives.[36][37] Footage from a Zoom call was released of Prince Michael, alongside Simon Isaacs, 4th Marquess of Reading, interacting with undercover reporters posing as business executives seeking to make contacts with the Kremlin. In the video, he assured the men that his close ties with the country would be of benefit, and that he could introduce them to high-ranking figures within the Russian government in exchange for money. The call took place the day after the European Union imposed sanctions on the Kremlin.[36] Michael was being offered £143,000 for a proposal and £36,000 a month by the faux businessmen, which he expressed satisfaction with. The Marquess claimed that Prince Michael was the Queen's "unofficial ambassador to Russia" and had direct access to Putin. He later stated that he had "overpromised", while the prince said that he had not had contact with Putin since 2003. In a 2019 interview, Michael stated that he visited Russia twice a year as part of his work for the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce.[36]

Marina Litvinenko denounced the prince's actions, saying that it demonstrated that he didn't "care about human rights, democracy, about the people who are dying in Russia or what he did to your own citizens on UK soil".[36] Conservative MP Bob Seely released a statement saying, in part: "We have sanctions against President Putin's regime for good reason. I'd love to know what Prince Michael thinks he is doing by making the UK's values and standards look optional."[36]

SportEdit

Prince Michael was a part of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst rowing crew that won the Maiden Fours at Bedford in 1961.[38] Prince Michael competed for Great Britain in the 1971 FIBT World Bobsleigh Championships but crashed and failed to finish the event. He was official non-travelling reserve for the 1972 Winter Olympics.[39] He took part in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally in an Austin Maxi, but he and his crew failed to finish the event.

Financial issuesEdit

In 2002, both Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were the subject of criticism over the rent paid on their accommodation at Kensington Palace following scrutiny by the House of Commons Public Accounts committee on the cost of royal palaces and whether they were value for money.[40] The committee had called on the Queen to evict its residents and put the apartments on a more commercial footing. When it was claimed that the couple paid a rent of only £69 per week for the use of their apartments at Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace announced that "The Queen is paying the rent for Prince and Princess Michael of Kent's apartment at a commercial rate of £120,000 annually, from her own private funds. This rent payment by The Queen is in recognition of the Royal engagements and work for various charities which Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have undertaken at their own expense, and without any public funding."[41]

Prince Michael has been scrutinized for financial assistance given to him by exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky through offshore companies, with a reported total of £320,000 in payments over the period 2002–2008.[42] In an interview with The Sunday Times, Berezovsky stated, "There is nothing underhand or improper about the financial assistance I have given Prince Michael. It is a matter between friends."[43]

Titles, styles, honours and armsEdit

TitlesEdit

 
Royal monogram

As a child of a younger son of a British sovereign, he is styled as a British prince with the prefix His Royal Highness and a territorial designation deriving from his father's dukedom: "His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent".

UnofficialEdit

  Calabar, Nigeria
  • 2017 – present:
In Efik: Ada Idagha Ke Efik Eburutu[44]
In English: A person of honour and high standing in the Efik Eburutu Kingdom

HonoursEdit

ForeignEdit

Honorary military appointmentsEdit

Canada
United Kingdom

FellowshipsEdit

Honorary academic degrees and awardsEdit

Degrees and appointmentsEdit

  • 1998: Plekhanov Economics Academy, Honorary Doctorate[35]
  • 2003: Sinerghia Economics and Finance Institute, Honorary Professor[35]
  • 2012: St Petersburg University of Humanities and Social Sciences, Honorary Doctorate[35]

AwardsEdit

  • 2002: The International Man of the Year Award, Plekhanov Economics Academy[35]
  • 2003: The "Glory of Russia", Plekhanov Economics Academy[35]

ArmsEdit

Coat of arms of Prince Michael of Kent
 
Notes
As a descendant of George V, the Prince Michael's arms are based on the Royal Arms. The following explains the way in which his arms are differenced from those of the Queen.
Coronet
Coronet of a Grandchild of the Sovereign
Crest
On the coronet of children of other sons of the Sovereign, composed of four crosses-pattées alternated with four strawberry leaves a lion statant guardant or, crowned with the like coronet and differenced with a label as in the Arms.
Supporters
The Royal Supporters differenced with the like coronet and label.
Orders
The Royal Victorian Order circlet.
VICTORIA
Other elements
The Royal Arms differenced with a five-point label - the usual differentiation for a male-line grandchild of a British monarch. The first, third and fifth points bear a red cross, and the second and fourth points bear a blue anchor.
Banner
 
Symbolism
As with the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom. The first and fourth quarters are the arms of England, the second of Scotland, the third of Ireland.

IssueEdit

Name Birth Marriage Issue
Lord Frederick Windsor 6 April 1979 12 September 2009 Sophie Winkleman Maud Windsor
Isabella Windsor
Lady Gabriella Kingston 23 April 1981 18 May 2019 Thomas Kingston

AncestryEdit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ British princes such as Michael do not normally use a surname, but when one is needed, Windsor may be used.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "No. 35623". The London Gazette. 7 July 1942. p. 2987.
  2. ^ "Invitation to FDR to become Godfather". Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  3. ^ The Times, 5 August 1942
  4. ^ "Royal.gov.uk – 60 Facts, Fact 9". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  5. ^ a b "The current Royal Family". Official Website of the British Monarchy. Archived from the original on 1 May 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2018.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ a b c "Business". Prince Michael of Kent. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  7. ^ "No. 48589". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 April 1981. p. 5767.
  8. ^ "Prince Michael of Kent, Biographies, The Royal Family, People of Influence". Debrett's. Archived from the original on 20 November 2014.
  9. ^ a b c "No. 60084". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 March 2012. p. 4993.
  10. ^ "Royal residences: Kensington Palace". Official website of the British monarchy. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013.
  11. ^ "Charities & Organisations". Prince Michael's official website. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Who are we?". The Kennel Club. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  13. ^ "HRH Prince Michael of Kent visits hospital". Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. 29 September 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Our Patron". Maritime Volunteer Service. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  15. ^ "The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships". Association of Dunkirk Little Ships. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  16. ^ "A message from HRH Prince Michael of Kent". Royal Life Saving Society. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Governance and Management". Royal Automobile Club. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  18. ^ "National Eye Research Centre". JBP. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  19. ^ "The Council". Motor Sports Association UK. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  20. ^ "Spectacular new Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed opened by Prince Michael of Kent". Brooklands Museum. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  21. ^ "About us". The Light Aircraft Association. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Our Royal Patron". London School of Business and Finance. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  23. ^ Ashley Walton; Alan Cochrane (17 June 1978). "Royal Couple's Anguish: Church wedding ban by the Pope". Daily Express (24, 248).
  24. ^ Picknett, Lynn, Prince, Clive, Prior, Stephen & Brydon, Robert, War of the Windsors: A Century of Unconstitutional Monarchy (2002), p. 271. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-631-3.
  25. ^ "Business". Prince Michael's official website. Archived from the original on 28 March 2018. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  26. ^ Armitstead, Louise (10 October 2004). "'Rent a Kent' reborn as Russian saint". The Times. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  27. ^ "Prince Michael of Kent to participate in Russia and CIS Hotel Investment Conference". London: eTurboNews. 7 August 2008. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  28. ^ "Prince Michael of Kent's freemasons lodge faces legal action". The Telegraph. 9 March 2012. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  29. ^ "GRAND LODGE OF MARK MASTER MASONS" (PDF). Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons. 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  30. ^ "Provincial Grand Master & Executive". Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  31. ^ Alderson, Andrew (26 September 2010). "Russia hails Prince Michael, the Royal Family member with Tsarist blood in his veins". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  32. ^ Russia: A 1,000 Year Chronicle by Martin Sixsmith page 220 paragraph 3, line 9
  33. ^ "17 July 1998: The funeral of Tsar Nicholas II". The Romanov Family Association. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  34. ^ Romanovich, Nikolai (20 March 2010). "The Romanov Family Association". The Romanov Family Association. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h "Russia". Prince Michael of Kent's official website. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  36. ^ a b c d e "Prince Michael of Kent 'selling access' to the Putinistas". The Times.
  37. ^ Halliday, Josh; Quinn, Ben (9 May 2021). "Prince Michael of Kent's army role questioned after claims he sold access to Kremlin". The Observer.
  38. ^ "Activities & Interests". Prince Michael of Kent's official website. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  39. ^ The Times, 21 January 1972
  40. ^ "Queen to pay Kents' rent". 18 December 2002. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  41. ^ "Corrections to inaccurate media stories about the Royal Family". Official website of the British monarchy. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Related to Evening Standard, 10 March 2005; The Times, 9 May 2005.
  42. ^ Hui, Sylvia (13 May 2012). "Queen's cousin given financial assistance by exiled Russian tycoon". yahoo.com. Associated Press. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  43. ^ Walker, Tim (3 September 2012). "Boris Berezovsky has friends indeed in Prince and Princess Michael of Kent". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  44. ^ "Letter from Africa: Why Queen of England has a throne in Nigeria". BBC News. 25 May 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  45. ^ "No. 56951". The London Gazette. 2 June 2003. p. 6753.
  46. ^ "No. 52984". The London Gazette. 7 July 1992. p. 11419.
  47. ^ a b "key appointments - The Essex and Kent Scottish - Essex & Kent Scottish".
  48. ^ "No. 53638". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 April 1994. p. 5467.
  49. ^ "No. 57297". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 May 2004. p. 6503.
  50. ^ "No. 61172". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 March 2015. p. 4818.
  51. ^ "No. 52104". The London Gazette. 10 April 1990. p. 7661.
  52. ^ "The History of The King's Royal Hussars". The King's Royal Hussars. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  53. ^ "No. 56640". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 July 2002. p. 8791.
  54. ^ "No. 60091". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 March 2012. p. 5510.
  55. ^ "His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent - Military Involvement". Official website of Prince Michael. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  56. ^ "CIOL celebrates success in language qualifications at Annual Awards 2016". Chartered Institute of Linguists. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  57. ^ "About the Institute of the Motor Industry". Institute of the Motor Industry. Retrieved 28 May 2018.

External linksEdit

Prince Michael of Kent
Born: 4 July 1942
Lines of succession
Preceded by Line of succession to the British throne
(son of George, son of George V)
Succeeded by
Order of precedence in England and Wales
Preceded by Gentlemen
Prince Michael of Kent
Succeeded by
Justin Welby
as Archbishop of Canterbury
Order of precedence in Scotland
Preceded by Gentlemen
Prince Michael of Kent
Succeeded by
Order of precedence in Northern Ireland
Preceded by Gentlemen
Prince Michael of Kent
Succeeded by
Lords Lieutenant (see list here)
(during term of office and within bounds of counties and cities)