09 January 2018

A Canadian Countess

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Thirty years ago today, a member of the British Royal Family gave up his claim to the throne in order to marry the woman he loved. No, this isn't another re-telling of the Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson story. (That was much longer ago!) This is the story of George Windsor, Earl of St. Andrews and his Canadian bride Sylvana Tomaselli. When George married Sylvana on January 9, 1988, he was 16th in line to the throne, but he had to give up his place because Sylvana was Catholic. Under the 1701 Act of Settlement no one who marries a Catholic can become the British monarch.

George is the firstborn child of His Royal Highness Prince Edward Duke of Kent, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. He uses one of his father's secondary titles as a courtesy. His courtesy title and his eventual succession as the Duke of Kent were not impacted by the Act of Settlement. In fact, there was no fuss about his choice of a Catholic bride within the family. Since then, his mother the Duchess of Kent, his brother Lord Nicholas and two of this children have even converted to the faith.

Born in Newfoundland in 1957, Sylvana was the first Canadian to marry into the British Royal Family. Fellow Canadian Autumn Kelly will celebrate her tenth wedding anniversary with The Queen's oldest grandchild Peter Phillips later this year.

Sylvana pursued her higher education in both Canada and England, earning degrees from the University of British Columbia, York University in Ontario and the University of Cambridge. Before meeting the earl she was married to a young man named John Paul Jones, but they were divorced a few years later.

Sylvana has developed a deep love of Scotland and it was there that she married George in 1988. By the end of that same year, their son Edward, who bears the courtesy title of Lord Downpatrick, was born. The late Diana Princess of Wales was his godmother. Now 28, Eddie Downpatrick launched the men's clothing and accessories business, FIDIR, last year. The St. Andrews' second child, Lady Marina-Charlotte Windsor, 25, is currently based in New York, while youngest daughter Lady Amelia Windsor, 21, has been doing some modeling and traveling while finishing her studies in Edinburgh.

Both the Earl and the Countess are committed to the academic life. She is a fellow at St. Johns College, Cambridge, while he was recently appointed chancellor of the University of Bolton. George previously served as a diplomat before working in the antiquarian book business and becoming chairman of the Golden Web, an online world history project. Sylvana lectures on 18th and 19th century political theory and also has strong academic interests in mind-body dualism, the history of women and population theories with many publications to her credit. One of the most well-educated members of the Windsor family, she is also a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a founding member of the European Center for the Philosophy of Gender.

In the meantime, George finally got his place back in the line of succession to the throne. Sylvana is still a Catholic, but with the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013 spouses of Catholics are no longer barred. He is now 35th in line to the throne, but following the births of Baby Cambridge and Baby Tindall later this year, he will slide down to 37.


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More about Sylvana, Countess of St Andrews
Miss Tomaselli on St. John's College, University of Cambridge


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