25 December 2016

Happy 80th Birthday to Princess Alexandra

Princess Alexandra of Kent

By Harry Pot / Anefo via Wikimedia Commons
The British Royal Family has had a distressing run up to Christmas 2016. The Queen and Prince Philip delayed their departure for Sandringham due to illness, although they did eventually travel by helicopter. The former governess to Prince Edward and his cousin Lady Sarah Chatto passed away. Most tragically of all, it was announced that the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips lost her pregnancy.

At least when they wake up Christmas morning, they will have something extra to celebrate: the 80th birthday of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra. Born on Christmas Day 1936, Alexandra's arrival was also a welcome respite during a troubling time for then family. Exactly two weeks before her birth, her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in a decision that set family members against each other for the next several decades.

Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel Windsor was the second child of Edward VIII's favorite brother, the charming and handsome Prince George The Duke of Kent. In 1934, he had married the equally glamorous Princess Marina of Greece, who was a granddaughter of Greece's King George I and a great-granddaughter of Russia's Czar Alexander II. Marina and George's marriage was one of the last truly royal, royal weddings. Their first child Prince Edward was 14 months old when Alexandra was born and another baby boy followed five and a half years later with the birth of Prince Michael of Kent on July 4, 1942.


Despite Prince George's closeness to the former king, he was publicly supportive of the new king, his second brother, Albert who took the regnal name King George VI. The Kents were active representatives of the king and offered a glamorous alternative to the King and Queen as Europe headed into World War II. Prince George was also an officer with the newly created Royal Air Force, and the start of the war saw him resign the high rank that had been awarded him as a royal so that we could serve at a level more appropriate to his experience. He longed for a more active role in the war but was instead assigned to a support role in Scotland. Nevertheless, we was killed in a flying accident in August 1942, just seven weeks after the birth of his youngest child. Princess Alexandra was not yet six years old.


Only a decade younger than her first cousin who would become Queen Elizabeth II, Alexandra received a much better education. In fact, she was the first British princess to be sent to school and she even went on to study in Paris. As a teenager, she began to take on official royal duties, even representing The Queen abroad. She attracted media attention but always avoided any hint of scandal or problems. When she married, she chose an "appropriate" mate, an older man who was a scion of the Scottish Earl of Airlie, The Honorable Angus Ogilvy. He declined any titles upon his marriage but was later knighted as Sir Angus.


The couple had two children, James and Marina, who each have a son and daughter of their own. for more than six decades, Princess Alexandra has been a workhorse for the royal family. Despite some ill health in recent years, suffering with polymyalgia rheumatica, she is still actively involved in organizations concerned with nursing, mental health, music, theater, animals, etc. She is a Royal Lady of the Order of the Garter and a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. She is also very close to The Queen, for whom she was a bridesmaid in 1947.

Princess Alexandra was widowed 12 years ago when Sir Angus passed away on December 26, just one day after her 68th birthday. He was 76.


For More About Princess Alexandra:
Flashback: The Wedding of Princess Alexandra on Her Majesty's Jewel Vault
Princess Alexandr of Kent, Lady Ogilvy on the Royal Watcher
Princess Alexandra of Kent's Gown on The Order of Royal Splendor
Who is Princess Alexandra on Royal Central

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