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Katharine, Duchess of Kent (Katharine Lucy Mary; née Worsley, 22 February 1933), is a member of the British Royal Family, the wife of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, a grandson of King George V and Queen Mary, and first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Duchess of Kent gained attention for her conversion to Catholicism in 1994, the first senior Royal 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. She is also well-known as the presenter of trophies at the annual Wimbledonmarker lawn tennis championships – a role she inherited from her mother-in-law, Princess Marina, and has since relinquished.

The Duchess's warm and informal manner has won her many admirers. She prefers to be known in her private life as Katharine Kent. She also has expressed a preference for being known as Katharine, Duchess of Kent, a style usually reserved for divorced or widowed peeresses. However, her formal title remains Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent.

Early life

Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley was born at Hovingham Hallmarker, Yorkshiremarker, and was the only daughter of Sir William Arthrington Worsley, Bt., and his wife, Joyce Morgan, daughter of Sir John Fowler Brunner, Bt. and granddaughter of Sir John Tomlinson Brunner, Bt., the founder of Brunner Mond, which later became ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries).

She was educated at Queen Margaret's School near Yorkmarker and at Runton Hill School in Norfolk. At school she was introduced to music, and was taught to play the piano, organ and violin, which she still plays today. 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 Musicmarker but followed her brothers to Oxfordmarker, where they were at the Universitymarker, to study at Miss Hubler's Finishing School, 22 Merton Streetmarker, devoting much of her time to music.


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 Minstermarker. After her marriage she was styled Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent.

The Duke and Duchess of Kent have three children:

The couple also had a stillborn child in 1977, a loss that caused the Duchess to fall into a state of severe depression, which she has spoken about publicly.


The Duchess of Kent was received into the Catholic Church in 1994. 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!" Basil Cardinal Hume, then 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, is married to a Catholic and thus has been excluded from the succession.

Recent years

The issue of children at the All England Club arose in 1999, when the Duchess of Kent, whose husband the Duke of Kent had been president of the club for 30 years, was refused permission to bring the 12-year-old son of a friend into the Royal Box at Wimbledon, and then received what The Daily Telegraph reported in a front-page story was a "curt letter" from club chairman John Curry, informing her that children were unwelcome in the Royal Box. She, in turn, threatened a boycott of the Royal Box. In an editorial, the paper said: "The Club has been accused of snobbery and arrogance before. Even by its own standards, however, managing to offend its principal Royal supporter must surely count as a grievous double fault."

The Duchess of Kent decided not to personally use the style 'Her Royal Highness' in 2002 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. By way of example, when she made a formal appearance to confer awards at the BBC's Young Musician of the Year competition in 2002, she asked the organizers to introduce her as "Katharine, Duchess of Kent."

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 Hullmarker. 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 record, "Thank You", she chose as one of her favourite pieces of music.

Reports by the BBC have stated that the Duchess suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, while the Mail on Sunday reported that she suffers 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. 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".

After being diagnosed with depression, the Duchess is said to be referred to as 'Poor Mad Kate Kent' in certain aristocratic circles.

Future Talent

Future Talent is a children's music charity launched in 2004 by Katharine Kent and Nicholas Robinson (Headmaster, King's College School, Cambridge). Future Talent is dedicated to finding, funding and nurturing exceptionally talented young musicians in the UK.

The work of Future Talent is specifically aimed at children from areas of deprivation and difficulty - the Billy Elliots of Music - who may have plenty of talent, but who lack the opportunities or guidance to fulfil their potential. It is the goal of Future Talent to find and encourage these children, to provide the stepping stones which will take them ever closer to fulfilling their ambitions: to become the professional musicians of tomorrow.

As well as being the founder, Katharine Kent is a trustee of the charity and maintains a regular presence in the Future Talent office, guiding and advising the staff. This "hands on" approach has seen the charity grow enormously in the few years since its foundation.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

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

The Duchess' current full style is Her Royal Highness Princess Edward George Nicholas Patrick, Duchess of Kent, Countess of St. Andrews, Baroness Downpatrick


Honorary military appointments

Organisations named after the Duchess

External links


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