Britain · Pocket Profiles

Pocket Profile – The Gloucesters

Thank you to our loyal Baguette Elizabeth Davies for an in-depth dive on the Gloucesters. I had promised a Romanov wrap-up, but even in small doses the story was getting a bit too heavy for a blog dedicated to lightness. The Gloucesters should provide a nice interlude of (relatively) drama-free royaling. We’ll wrap up the Romanovs in the future.

A Who’s Who of The Gloucester Family

When young Lucas Philip Tindall arrived recently, he became the 22nd  in line to the Throne of GB, and knocked Xan, Lord Culloden, out of the top 30. Who, you may ask, is Xan Culloden? I am here to tell you!

In short, Xan  Richard Anders Windsor, Lord Culloden (to give him his full due) is the 14 year old grandson of HRH Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, and all things being equal, his eventual heir to the Dukedom. But apart from the Duke and Duchess, who regularly support the Queen at state events, the Gloucesters are a private family and not much known. So here is a brief Who’s Who.

Here are the four sons of King George V. The briefly reigning Edward VIII (in the kilt)was the oldest; then Albert (central right), who became King as George VI; then Henry Duke of Gloucester (right), then George, Duke of Kent (left). 

George, Duke of Kent died in a flying accident during the War and was succeeded by his son Edward (b 1935) as Duke of Kent, which he remains to this day. Edward VIII abdicated and George VI became King, dying in 1951. Which left Henry, Duke of Gloucester, as the surviving brother. As he was older than George of Kent, the Gloucesters are senior to the Kents in the Royal family.

Here is the Royal Family at the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. Unfortunately, they are not standing tidily in family groups! In amongst Mary Princess Royal and the Kents, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s senior uncle, wears the red uniform, while his wife Alice stands to the right, behind her two sons. Richard, the current Duke, is the younger of the two boys.

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester had two sons. His heir was the handsome, dashing and rather glamorous Prince William of Gloucester. William worked in the diplomatic service and raced cars and ‘planes in his spare time. 

The younger brother, Prince Richard, was bespectacled and shy and preparing for a quiet life as an architect. While he was still at Cambridge University, he met Birgitte Van Deurs, who worked at the Danish Embassy. The two fell in love and were married in Spring 1972 in a small country wedding in the church at Barnwell, near the Gloucesters’ country house. Although attended by the Queen and other members of the royal family, it was not a public event. There were no bridesmaids or razzmatazz. Afterwards, Birgitte was known as Princess Richard of Gloucester.

Then tragedy struck. Prince William, like his uncle George before him, was killed in ‘plane crash later in 1972. This meant that Prince Richard became his father’s heir. In 1974, the ailing Prince Henry died, and Prince Richard succeeded him as the HRH Duke of Gloucester, with Birgitte becoming HRH the Duchess of Gloucester. 

As senior, but now second string, royals, the Duke and Duchess work to support HM the Queen, being most often seen at State banquets and receptions and garden parties at Buckingham Palace. 

The couple have three children. Here they are at the christening of Lady Rose, the youngest, born in 1980. Their other children are Alexander, Earl of Ulster (b 1974) and Lady Davina (b 1977). None of the children are working royals. As only the great grandchildren of a monarch, by a younger son, they are not HRH’s, and take their titles from their father’s Dukedom. When in the fullness of time Alexander becomes the Duke of Gloucester, it will no longer be a Royal Dukedom.

Alexander Patrick Gregers Richard Windsor, Earl of Ulster, known to friends as Alex Ulster, is the oldest child of the Duke and Duchess. He went to Sandhurst and served for 10 years as an officer with the King’s Royal Hussars. He is now retired from the Army and works for Transnational Crisis Project. In 2002 he married Claire Booth. They have two children:

The Duke of Gloucester on the Balcony in 2018, with his grandchildren and son.

Xan Richard Anders Windsor, Baron Culloden, who was born in 2007 and Lady Cosima Rose Alexandra Windsor, who was born in 2010. Like their father, they are not royal, and have titles because they are the children of an Earl.

Lady Davina Elizabeth Alice Lewis is the elder of the Gloucesters’ two daughters. In 2002 she married Gary Lewis, a New Zealander of Maori heritage and became stepmother to his son.

They went on to have two children together, first a daughter, Senna Kowhai Lewis, in 2010, then a son, Tane Mahute Lewis, born in 2012. These two are of interest because they are the only people ever to swap places in the line of succession. When Tane was born, it was the time between the bringing of the new Bill of Succession in 2011, which did away with male preference, and its enactment as law. So he briefly displaced his sister in line only, because he was born after 2011, to have her jump back over him once the Bill became Law.

Sadly, Davina’s marriage has ended in divorce.

Lady Rose being escorted to her wedding by her father and sister.

Lady Rose Victoria Birgitte Louise Gilman is the Gloucester’s youngest child. She married George Gilman in 2008. They have two children, Lyla Beatrix Christabel Gilman, born in 2010 and Rufus Frederick Montagu Gilman, born 2012, after the new Act of Succession, so he never troubled his sister for her place! Lyla appeared on the last Trooping the Colour Balcony event in 2019.

Thank you, Elizabeth! I know that will help me sort out the big groups on the balcony. We are leaving Pocket Profiles for the month of April, and reviving an old feature, one that we think you will love!