Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester

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Duchess of Gloucester (more)
Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester 2015.jpg
The Duchess in 2015
Born Birgitte Eva Henriksen
(1946-06-20) 20 June 1946 (age 71)
Odense, Denmark
Spouse Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester (m. 1972)
Issue Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster
Lady Davina Lewis
Lady Rose Gilman
House Windsor (by marriage)
Father Asger Henriksen
Mother Vivian van Deurs

Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, GCVO (born Birgitte Eva Henriksen on 20 June 1946; later van Deurs), is the wife of Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

Early life[edit]

Birgitte was born Birgitte Eva Henriksen, in Odense, Denmark, the younger daughter of Asger Preben Knud Wissing Henriksen, a lawyer, and his wife, Vivian van Deurs, a Dutch woman,[1] before their marriage, her father was first married to Emma Neergaard Rasmussen, the future wife of Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller.[2]

She took her mother's ancestral name van Deurs on 15 January 1966, when her parents separated, she moved to Cambridge, England, and also worked at the Danish Embassy in London.[3]


The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester

In February 1972, Birgitte became engaged to Prince Richard of Gloucester, the younger son of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. The groom designed her coral and silver engagement ring,[4] their marriage took place on 8 July 1972 at St Andrew's Church, Barnwell, Northamptonshire. The bride's wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell.[5] Six weeks after their wedding, Prince Richard's elder brother, Prince William, was killed in a flying accident. Prince Richard unexpectedly became heir apparent to the dukedom and upon his father's death in 1974, the couple became the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.[6]

The couple have three children: Alexander (b. 24 October 1974), Davina (b. 19 November 1977), and Rose (born 1 March 1980).


The Duchess of Gloucester has accompanied the Duke of Gloucester on his official visits overseas: her first visit was in 1973, when they represented the Queen at the 70th birthday celebrations of King Olav V of Norway.[7] Other joint visits have included Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tonga, Tunisia and the United States.[7]

Birgitte has also travelled overseas in support of her own patronages and military units, including a visit to Iraq in December 2008.[7]

She and her husband represented the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the state funeral of King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV of Tonga on 19 September 2006. They also represented the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the coronation of King George Tupou V of Tonga on 1 August 2008 in Nukuʻalofa.

Birgitte is sponsor of two Royal Navy ships: HMS Gloucester and HMS Sandown. She is also the Royal Patron of the Bermuda Regiment, she is patron of Bliss, the special care baby charity, and also of St Paul's Cathedral School; St John's School, Leatherhead; and Bridewell Royal Hospital (King Edward's School, Witley) and regularly attends functions at all three schools, as well as the Royal Alexandra and Albert School, of which she is president.

After the death of Diana, Princess of Wales,[8] Birgitte became President of the Royal Academy of Music,[9] she is also the patron of Prostate Cancer UK.[10] In March 2006, she opened the Prostate Centre.[11]

The Duke and Duchess live in London at Kensington Palace, their official royal residence.

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 20 June 1946 – 15 January 1966:[1] Miss Birgitte Eva Henriksen
  • 15 January 1966 – 8 June 1972: Miss Birgitte Eva van Deurs
  • 8 June 1972 – 10 June 1974: Her Royal Highness Princess Richard of Gloucester
  • 10 June 1974 – present: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester



Commonwealth honours[edit]

Honorary military appointments[edit]

Australia Australia
  • Australia Colonel-in-Chief, of the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps
Bermuda Bermuda
Canada Canada
New Zealand New Zealand
  • New Zealand Colonel-in-Chief, of the Royal New Zealand Army Educational Corps
United Kingdom United Kingdom



Name Birth Marriage Issue
Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster 24 October 1974 22 June 2002 Claire Booth Xan Windsor, Lord Culloden
Lady Cosima Windsor
Lady Davina Lewis 19 November 1977 31 July 2004 Gary Lewis Senna Lewis
Tāne Lewis
Lady Rose Gilman 1 March 1980 19 July 2008 George Gilman Lyla Gilman
Rufus Gilman



  1. ^ a b Name change is mentioned in parish register of Th. Kingo, Odense (Regional Archive, Odense)
  2. ^ "Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller". UK Daily Telegraph - 17 April 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2016. He was a knight of the Danish Order of the Elephant, which entitled him to be addressed as 'Your Excellency', and was appointed honorary KBE in 1990. 
  3. ^ "The Duchess of Gloucester – Early life and education". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "British engagement rings". Order of Splendor. 
  5. ^ Wedding Wednesday: The Duchess of Gloucester’s Gown
  6. ^ "The Duchess of Gloucester – Marriage and family". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "The Duchess of Gloucester – Public role". Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Special Report: Princess Diana, 1961–1997". Time. 18 September 1997. Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  9. ^ "About us - History". Royal Academy of Music. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  10. ^ "Prostate Research receives royal attention". PR Newswire. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "About The Prostate Centre". The Prostate Centre. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c "The Duchess of Gloucester: Honours". Royal Household. Archived from the original on 11 October 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 

External links[edit]

Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lady Sarah Chatto
HRH The Duchess of Gloucester
Succeeded by
The Duchess of Kent