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Prince Michael of Kent (Michael George Charles Franklin; born 4 July 1942) is a member of the British Royal Family and a grandson of King George V and Queen Mary.

Prince Michael of Kent does not officially carry out royal duties on behalf of his cousin, Queen Elizabeth II, although he has represented the Queen in some functions abroad. Instead, 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. He is named after Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia, the younger brother of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and first cousin of three of his grandparents.

Early life

Prince Michael of Kent was born on 4 July 1942, at Coppinsmarker, Ivermarker, Buckinghamshire. His father was The Duke of Kent, the fourth-eldest son of George V and Queen Mary, who was killed in a plane crash near Caithnessmarker, Scotlandmarker on 25 August 1942, a few weeks after his son was born. At the time of his birth he was sixth in the line of succession to the British throne.

His mother was The Duchess of Kent (née Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark), a daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia. As a grandchild of a British sovereign in the male line, he is styled as a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with the prefix His Royal Highness, thus styled His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent.

At his christening on 4 August 1942, his godparents were Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then President of the United States of America; King George II of Greece; King Haakon VII of Norway; Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands; Lady Patricia Ramsay; The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven; The Crown Princess of Greece; and The Duke of Gloucester. Because of the war, newspapers did not identify the actual location of the christening, and said instead that it took place at "a private chapel in the country".

At the age of 5, Prince Michael was a page boy at the wedding of his cousin, The Princess Elizabeth, to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Education and military service

Educated at Sunningdale Schoolmarker and Eton Collegemarker, Prince Michael entered the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurstmarker, in January 1961, where he was commissioned into the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own), in 1963. He saw service in Germanymarker, Hong Kongmarker, and Cyprusmarker, where his squadron formed part of the UN peacekeeping force of 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.

In 1994, Prince Michael was made Honorary Commodore of the Royal Naval Reserve, and in 2002 he was made Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Bensonmarker. In addition, Prince Michael is president of SSAFA Forces Help, and of the Royal Patriotic Fund. He is also colonel-in-chief of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment in Canadamarker.

Career

Royal duties

As the third child of George V's fourth son, it was not expected that Prince Michael of Kent would undertake royal and official duties. Prince Michael has never received a parliamentary annuity, or an allowance from the Privy Purse. In contrast, both his elder brother, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and his sister, Princess Alexandra, carry out official royal duties, and receive parliamentary annuities. As a member of the Royal Family, however, the Prince does receive VIP treatment wherever he goes. The Foreign and Commonwealth Officemarker arranges for the Prince to receive VIP welcomes whenever he travels abroad, and he has use of British Embassy staff when required. The Prince was also given a grace and favour apartment at Kensington Palacemarker upon his marriage in 1978.

Prince Michael has represented the Queen at state funerals in Indiamarker, Cyprusmarker and Swazilandmarker and, with his wife, Princess Michael of Kent, represented the Queen at the independence celebrations in Belizemarker, and at the Coronation of King Mswati III of Swaziland.

Prince Michael also supports a large number of different charities and organisations, including acting as the Commonwealth President of the Royal Life Saving Society.

His patronages include:

Commercial

Given that the Prince does not receive any income from his royal duties, he has the Queen's permission to earn a living from commercial enterprise. As such Prince Michael manages his own consultancy business, and undertakes business throughout the world. He is also a qualified interpreter of Russian.

Masonic

Prince Michael is also involved with various aspects of Freemasonry - mainly as both the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, and Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex.

Marriage

On 30 June 1978, Prince Michael was married, at a civil ceremony, at the Rathaus, Vienna, Austriamarker, to Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, the only child of the Silesian nobleman Baron Gunther Hubertus von Reibnitz, and his Hungarianmarker-born wife, Maria Anna Carolina Franziska Walpurga Bernadette, Countess Szapáry de Muraszombath, Széchysziget et Szapár.

The Kents' marriage was controversial because the Baroness was not only a Roman Catholic, but also a divorcée. She was previously married to banker Thomas Troubridge; they separated in 1973, divorced in 1977, and had their marriage annulled by the Roman Catholic Church a year later, two months before her marriage to Prince Michael. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, which governs the laws of the succession to the British Throne, Prince Michael forfeited his place in the line of succession through marriage to a Roman Catholic.

However, his wife became, and remains, a Princess of the United Kingdom, and is styled Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent (not Princess Marie-Christine, since she is not a princess in her own right, but only by right of marriage). Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have two children, both of whom remain in line to the throne because they are not Roman Catholics, having been raised as members of the Church of England:



Controversy

Both Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have received negative news stories in the media in the past. These have centred on accusations that the couple exploit their royal status for commercial gain. When it was claimed that the couple pay a rent of only £69 per week (although other sources state the figure as £76) for the use of their apartments at Kensington Palace, a committee of MPs demanded they be evicted. The British Monarchy Media Centre, however, refutes these controversial reports and states 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." The Queen agreed to pay the market rent until 2009, after which Prince Michael must assume the payments. Anticipating the loss of his free apartment in London, Michael sold his country house, Nether Lypiatt Manor for £5.75 million in 2006, to the businessman and Labour government minister Lord Drayson.

It should be noted that a grace and favour apartments for minor royals has a long tradition. Prince Michael's brother and cousin currently have apartments in Kensington Palace, while his sister has one in St. James's Palace. However, they are all considered working royals. Prince Michael also moved to Kensington Palace when he was age 12 with his widowed mother (who died when he was age 26). Prince Philip's maternal grandmother, Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine received a grace and favour apartment in Kensington Palace when she was widowed. She lived there for nearly 30 years, and Prince Philip lived with her there for some period as a child. Princess Margaret had an apartment there for 40 years from her marriage until her death.

Sport

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 Olympic Games.

Russia

Prince Michael has a strong interest in Russia, and is noted for his remarkable physical resemblance to Tsar Nicholas II, a first cousin of three of his grandparents. When the Tsar and his family were re-buried in Russia, it was Prince Michael who represented Britain. Prince Michael speaks fluent Russian, and holidays there frequently. In the novel Icon, by Frederick Forsyth, the monarchy in Russia is restored, with Prince and Princess Michael as Tsar and Tsarina.

He has been reported to have enjoyed trips to Russia sponsored by Russian entrepreneurs.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 4 July 1942 – : His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent
  • The prince's full titles: His Royal Highness Prince Michael George Charles Franklin of Kent, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order


Honours



Medals

  • UN Force in Cyprus(UNFICYP)Medal
  • Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953
  • Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal 1977
  • Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal 2002


Honorary military appointments





Fellowships



Arms

Prince Michael's personal coat of arms are the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, with a five point label- the standard 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.

Ancestry




See also



References



External links




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