Inside Prince and Princess Michael of Kent's 'complicated' marriage
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent will reportedly soon retire from public duties. Though no official announcement has been made yet, it’s believed that the first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and his wife will take the next step as he will turn 80 on July 4. This comes months after he came under fire for having business associations with the Kremlin after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
After the criticisms, the 79-year-old British Prince, who speaks fluently in Russian and is related to Tsar Nicholas II, resigned from his position as a patron of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce. He also gave up an Order of Friendship award, one of Russia’s highest honors. But it has been said that he still is an ambassador and shareholder of money transfer company RemitRadar, which is directed by ex-KGB officer Sergey Markov.
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As per the Royal Family website, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent are “non-working” royals but they “do undertake a range of public duties, including representing The Queen at certain engagements.” They have been reportedly married for over 40 years. The website states that the prince “undertakes on average over 200 public working engagements for the not-for-profit sector, funded by his own household,” before adding, “Princess Michael is also actively involved in around 45 different charities and organisations, including animal and wildlife trusts and health and welfare charities.”
Inside Prince Michael of Kent and Marie-Christine's royal relationship
Prince Michael married Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, the daughter of Silesian nobleman Baron Gunther von Reibnitz and his Austro-Hungarian wife Countess Maria Szapáry de Muraszombath, in 1978. After marriage, she went on to become Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent. Reportedly, the 77-year-old princess did not use her birth name because “the Anglo-Saxon tradition dictates that a woman on marrying will take her husband’s name", according to Royal Central.
“The same principle happens with women who marry into The Royal Family – they adopt the female variation of their husband’s title. However, what makes Princess Michael’s title unique in The Royal Family is that she is currently the only woman married to a Prince who is not a peer of the realm. Had Prince Andrew not been conferred as the Duke of York upon marriage, Sarah Ferguson would have formally been styled as HRH The Princess Andrew upon marriage," the Royal Central report states.
However, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent’s marriage was not an easy one because Marie Christine von Reibnitz was a Roman Catholic as well as a divorcée at the time. The union also cost the prince his right of succession since “the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701) excluded those who married Roman Catholics from the Succession,” as mentioned on his official site. But the site adds that “this provision was repealed by the Succession to the Crown Act (2013) and the Prince’s place in the Succession was reinstated.”
It has been reported that the prince proposed to his would-be-wife by gifting a two-stone sapphire-and-diamond ring, which was created using gems of his late mother Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. They exchanged vows in a civil ceremony at Vienna’s Rathaus (City Hall) in Austria, which was witnessed by his siblings -- the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra along with Princess Anne and Lord Louis Mountbatten.
In June 1983, the newly-wed was blessed for their marriage in a Roman Catholic ceremony at the Archbishop’s House in London. Later, they went on to become parents of a son and a daughter -- 43-year-old Lord Frederick Windsor and Lady Gabriella Windsor, 41. Both of them are the Church of England's members and also in the line of succession.
But like many Royal marriages, the marriage of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent has also reportedly not been free of rumors of infidelity. According to royal expert Phil Dampier, who said in 'Princess Michael: The Controversial Royal' documentary, "Both Prince and Princess Michael have been romantically linked with other people. Some other people have been married, some others not married."
"She was linked to the Texan oil tycoon John Ward Hunt. It was suggested he wanted to marry her at one point. They met in Dallas at a trade conference, and they were seen together, and she denied there was an affair, but she was once photographed coming out of his house in a red wig with dark glasses obviously trying to disguise herself in the 1980s. Very significantly in 2006, she was seen in Venice, very much happy in the company of a Russian furniture tycoon Mikhail Kravchenko. They were photographed together joking, laughing, holding hands, even kissing, and floating around Venice on a gondola," Dampier explained.
The expert also spilled some beans on the prince as he stated, "Prince Michael, similarly, has been linked to quite a few female friends. Bryony Brind, who was a ballet dancer, had quite a long-standing relationship with him and eventually gave it up saying she didn't want to put his marriage in jeopardy. He was also linked with an American, Lucy Weather, and she gave interviews later on about their eight year relationship. He was very much into their sex life and liked her to dress up in white lingerie and went into great intimate detail that probably had the Queen 'spluttering over her breakfast'."