Katharine, Duchess of Kent

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Duchess of Kent (more)
Katharine, Duchess of Kent.JPG
The Duchess at Trooping the Colour, June 2013
Born Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley
(1933-02-22) 22 February 1933 (age 85)
Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire
Spouse Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (m. 1961)
House Windsor (by marriage)
Father Sir William Worsley, 4th Bt.
Mother Joyce Brunner
Religion Roman Catholicism
(prev. Church of England)

Katharine, Duchess of Kent, GCVO (Katharine Lucy Mary; née Worsley; born 22 February 1933), is a member of the British Royal Family. Her husband, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Duchess of Kent gained attention for her conversion to Catholicism in 1994, the first member of the Royal Family to convert publicly since the passing of the Act of Settlement 1701, the Duchess of Kent is strongly associated with the world of music, and has performed as a member of several choirs.

Early life[edit]

Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley was born at Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire, and was the only daughter of Sir William Arthington Worsley, 4th Baronet., and his wife, Joyce Morgan Brunner, daughter of Sir John Brunner, 2nd Baronet, and granddaughter of Sir John Brunner, 1st Baronet, the founder of Brunner Mond, which later became ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries).[1] She is a descendant of Oliver Cromwell.[2] Worsley was christened at All Saints' Church, Hovingham, on 2 April 1933, her godparents were: Sir Felix Brunner, 3rd Baronet (her maternal uncle); Major Sir Digby Lawson, 2nd Baronet; Mrs Arthur Colegate (her paternal aunt); and Mrs Ronald Fife.[3]


She was educated at Queen Margaret's School, York, and at Runton Hill School in North Norfolk,[4] at school she was introduced to music, and was taught to play the piano, organ and violin, which she still plays today. In her final year at Runton Hill, she was formally elected music secretary; in this role, she organized school recitals in Norwich.[5] She left school with a pass in oral French and a "very good" in English literature.[6]

The Duchess has stated her admiration for the late cellist Jacqueline du Pré in the documentary by Christopher Nupen called 'Who is Jacqueline du Pré?' She later worked for some time in a children's home in York and worked at a nursery school in London. She failed to gain admission to the Royal Academy of Music but followed her brothers to Oxford, where they were at the University, to study at Miss Hubler's Finishing School, 22 Merton Street, devoting much of her time to music. At Miss Hubler's, she was one of only eight pupils[7] and was instructed by three different teachers: The principal herself, Miss Hubler, taught French literature, painting, and history; a French woman taught cookery; and a Viennese lady taught music.[7][8]


On 8 June 1961, she married Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, the eldest son of Prince George, Duke of Kent, and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, at York Minster. Guests included actors Noël Coward and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as well as members of the British, Greek, Danish, Norwegian, Yugoslavian, Romanian and Spanish royal families.[9] Together, the couple have three children: George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews (born 26 June 1962); Lady Helen Taylor (born 28 April 1964); and Lord Nicholas Windsor (born 25 July 1970).

Katharine suffered a miscarriage in 1975[10][11] and gave birth to a stillborn son, Patrick, in 1977, a loss that caused her to fall into a state of severe depression, about which she has spoken publicly. "It had the most devastating effect on me," she told The Daily Telegraph in 1997. "I had no idea how devastating such a thing could be to any woman. It has made me extremely understanding of others who suffer a stillbirth."[12]


The Duchess of Kent was received into the Catholic Church in 1994,[13] 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!"[14] Basil Hume, then Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and thus spiritual leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, warned the Church against triumphalism over the Duchess's conversion.

Although the Act of Settlement 1701 means a member of the Royal Family marrying a Catholic relinquishes their right of succession to the British throne, the Act does not include marriage to an Anglican who subsequently becomes a Catholic. 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, her grandson, Edward Windsor, Lord Downpatrick, and her granddaughter Lady Marina Charlotte Windsor have also become Catholics, her older son, the Earl of St. Andrews, father of Lord Downpatrick, married a Catholic and thus had been excluded from the succession until the Succession to the Crown Act revoked that exclusion in 2015, the Dukedom of Kent is not subject to the Act of Settlement, so St Andrews' son and heir, Lord Downpatrick, is in line to become the first Roman Catholic Duke or Earl of Kent since the Reformation.

Recent years[edit]

Reports by the BBC stated that the Duchess suffered from coeliac disease and Epstein-Barr virus, whose symptoms resemble those of ME or chronic fatigue syndrome, while the Mail on Sunday reported that she suffered from depression. By 1999 she had apparently completely recovered from chronic ill-health, and when asked by the Daily Mail what had suddenly changed, she answered, without elaboration, that she had been suffering unknowingly from coeliac disease,[15] she stepped down from her role as head of the M.E. Society in the UK after this new diagnosis, and has since energetically worked with various charities and schools. When asked by the Daily Mail in 1999 about her long history of illness, her reply was simply that "none of us goes through life unscathed".[14]

In 1999, the Duchess of Kent was refused permission to seat the 12-year-old son of a friend in the Royal Box at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Alternative seating outside the box was offered, she later received what The Daily Telegraph reported in a front-page story was a "curt letter" from club chairman John Curry, reminding her that children, other than members of the royal family, were not permitted in the Royal Box. She, in turn, threatened a boycott of the Royal Box.[16]

The Duchess of Kent decided in 2002 not to use personally the style 'Her Royal Highness' and to reduce her royal duties, since then she has been informally known as Katharine Kent, although her formal style (e.g. in the Court Circular) remains HRH The Duchess of Kent.[17][18][19]

In keeping with her withdrawal from full royal duties, the Duchess took a position as a music teacher in Wansbeck Primary School in Kingston upon Hull;[20] in 2005 the Duchess spoke in an interview on BBC Radio 3 of her liking of rap music and of the singer/songwriter Dido, whose song "Thank You" she chose as one of her favourite pieces of music.[21][22] She is patron of national charity, Making Music,[23] the National Federation of Music Societies, an umbrella organisation for amateur and voluntary music groups; in August 2016, the Duchess became an ambassador for Samaritans after a volunteer at the Teesside branch reached out to her. She had previously been its Royal Patron from 1971 until 1999.[24]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 22 February 1933 – 8 June 1961: Miss Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley
  • 8 June 1961 – present: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent



Honorary military appointments[edit]

United Kingdom United Kingdom

and formerly

Civilian offices[edit]

Organisations named after the Duchess[edit]



Name Birth Death Marriage Issue
George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews 26 June 1962 9 January 1988 Sylvana Tomaselli Edward Windsor, Lord Downpatrick
Lady Marina Charlotte Windsor
Lady Amelia Windsor
Lady Helen Taylor 28 April 1964 18 July 1992 Timothy Taylor Columbus Taylor
Cassius Taylor
Eloise Taylor
Estella Taylor
Lord Nicholas Windsor 25 July 1970 4 November 2006 Paola Doimi de Lupis de Frankopan Albert Windsor
Leopold Windsor
Louis Windsor
Lord Patrick Windsor
5 October 1977


Katharine is a descendant of Oliver Cromwell (25 April 1599 – 3 September 1658), 1st Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland (1653–1658), by his last daughter Frances Cromwell (1638–1720), through the Russells, the Franklands and the Worsleys.[27] Through her great-great-grandmother Sarah Philadelphia Cayley, she is a descendant of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, son of Mary Boleyn by her first husband William Carey (the paternity of Henry Carey has, however, been questioned out of his mother's affair with Henry VIII of England), herself a descendant of the Howards, the Bohuns, the Butlers of Ormonde and Edward I of England. Through Sarah Cayley she also descends from Cecily Neville, Duchess of York.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cathcart, Helen (1971). The Duchess of Kent (First ed.). London: W.H. Allen. p. 31. 
  2. ^ Le Petit Gotha
  3. ^ "Yvonne's Royalty Home Page: Royal Christenings". Users.uniserve.com. Retrieved 2017-03-13. 
  4. ^ Cathcart, Helen (1971). The Duchess of Kent (First ed.). London: W.H. Allen. p. 61. 
  5. ^ Cathcart, Helen (1971). The Duchess of Kent (First ed.). London: W.H. Allen. p. 67. 
  6. ^ Cathcart, Helen (1971). The Duchess of Kent (First ed.). London: W.H. Allen. p. 68. 
  7. ^ a b Cathcart, Helen (1971). The Duchess of Kent. London: W.H. Allen. p. 71. 
  8. ^ Garner, Valerie (1991). Katharine Duchess of Kent (First ed.). London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 36. ISBN 0297811754. 
  9. ^ "Wedding At York Wedding Of Prince Edward - British Pathé". Britishpathe.com. 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2017-03-13. 
  10. ^ Duchess of Kent: The reluctant royal at 80, Express.co.uk [retrieved 12 January 2017].
  11. ^ Duchess of Kent comes out from the shadows to attend royal wedding, Dailymail.co.uk [retrieved 12 January 2017].
  12. ^ "I lost my baby at nine months .. it devastated me; The Duchess of Kent reveals the stillbirth that led to a breakdown". The Mirror. 23 December 1997. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  13. ^ "BBC ON THIS DAY | 14 | 1994: Duchess of Kent joins Catholic church". BBC News. 2002-01-14. Retrieved 2017-03-13. 
  14. ^ a b "Duchess of Kent turns 80". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "Quiet Royal pipes up (section title)". The Daily Mail. 10 October 2008. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  16. ^ "UKWimbledon chief says sorry to duchess". The BBC online. 22 September 1999. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  17. ^ "Mrs Kent the musical royal and her life teaching at a school in Hull: The truth about the elusive Duchess". Mail Online. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  18. ^ "Closer than ever': Duke and Duchess of Kent reunited". Express. 4 August 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  19. ^ "About The Duchess of Kent". Royal UK. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  20. ^ "Duchess of Kent: 'my love for teaching music at Hull state primary school'". Daily Telegraph. 30 September 2011. 
  21. ^ "Private Passions, Katherine, Duchess of Kent". BBC radio 3. 25 August 2005. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  22. ^ "Duchess's secret life as teacher". The BBC online. 11 March 2004. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  23. ^ "Helping amateur music flourish". Making Music. 2015-08-27. Retrieved 2017-03-13. 
  24. ^ "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent becomes a Samaritans Ambassador". Samaritans. 3 August 2016. Retrieved 28 August 2015. 
  25. ^ a b c d e "The Duchess of Kent – Activities and interests". Royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  26. ^ "Duchess steps down as University Chancellor", Leeds University Reporter, 424, 5 October 1998
  27. ^ "Ancestry of Katharine Worsley". Genealogics.org. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  28. ^ "Pedigrees of the county families of Yorkshire". Archive.org. 2010-07-21. Retrieved 2017-03-13. 

External links[edit]

Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Duchess of Gloucester
HRH The Duchess of Kent
Succeeded by
Princess Michael of Kent
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Princess Royal
Chancellor of the University of Leeds
Succeeded by
Melvyn Bragg