About The Duchess of Gloucester
The Duchess of Gloucester – wife of The Queen’s cousin The Duke of Gloucester - is a full-time working member of the Royal Family. Her Royal Highness takes great pride in the work which she undertakes for her many charities and organisations, as well as her duties in support of The Queen.
The Duchess of Gloucester travels extensively across the UK and overseas to undertake hundreds of engagements every year. Many are related to the more than 60 organisations with which she is connected, across the arts, the military, sport, health, welfare and education.
The Duchess of Gloucester is involved in many charities and organisations, spanning diverse interests and causes, ranging from the Lawn Tennis Association to The Children's Society, the Friends of St Paul's Cathedral to Parkinson's UK, Hope for Youth Northern Ireland to Scottish Opera.
Her Royal Highness approaches her work with great enthusiasm and a sense of duty. The Duchess has said of her involvement with charities:
"As members of the Royal Family and in our public life, The Duke and I have the huge privilege of continuously meeting people greatly committed to their work with charitable causes - many individuals being volunteers, doing all kinds of good works, giving of their time, talents and expertise. Some are high-powered and greatly skilled, others willing to do the most mundane but essential tasks - all of them enjoying being part of a team supporting a noble cause. It is inspiring and immensely rewarding meeting these volunteers on my varying engagements in London and throughout the country. I meet volunteers in schools, often for children with special needs, medical research projects, hospices, homes for older and frail people, and also in community initiatives for sport, music and the conservation of the Arts. I see so many wonderful places, and it is the people involved who make them so.
"Charity work in Great Britain is a tradition. I don’t think I have a friend who has not involved him or herself somehow or other. How far back this tradition goes, I am not sure- it is one of the major aspects which makes me very proud to be British.
"There is another facet to voluntary work which I think is very important, and that is the sense of fulfilment and reward in the knowledge of the value of your contribution as a volunteer."
In this country there is a firmly grounded tradition, and a freedom, to help one’s fellow men in many different forms, and I think we should be proud of that and grateful for it also
The Duchess of Gloucester
Her Royal Highness enjoys meeting members of staff, children, patients, families, or key donors who have supported organisation she visits. During these engagements, she often asks to speak to people in small groups to learn more about their work and to hear about future plans for the organisation. As well as regular visits, The Duchess also attends meetings with some of her organisations to discuss subjects such as governance and forward planning. These include the Governing Body of the Royal Academy of Music and the Lawn Tennis Association.
The Duchess of Gloucester has travelled widely, both in support of her own charities and interests, and representing The Queen. Overseas visits have taken in such diverse countries as China, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway and the Philippines.
The Duchess often travels overseas in support of her own patronages and military units. In 2015, Her Royal Highness visited Bermuda as Colonel-in-Chief the Royal Bermuda Regiment, and in 2008 she met troops deployed to Iraq.
The Duchess of Gloucester was born Birgitte Eva van Deurs Henriksen on 20 June 1946 in Odense, Denmark.
She is the younger daughter of the late Asger Preben Wissing Henriksen, a lawyer, and his former wife, the late Mrs Vivian van Deurs.
Birgitte van Deurs was educated at schools in Odense and later at finishing schools in Lausanne and Cambridge.
It was while in Cambridge that she met the future Duke of Gloucester, then Prince Richard of Gloucester, who was then an undergraduate reading architecture at Cambridge University.
As members of the Royal Family and in our public life, The Duke and I have the huge privilege of continuously meeting people greatly committed to their work with charitable causes - many individuals being volunteers, doing all kinds of good works, giving of their time, talents and expertise
The Duchess of Gloucester
On returning to Denmark she took a three-year diploma course in Commercial and Economic Studies in Copenhagen, before arriving in London in 1971 to work as a secretary at the Royal Danish Embassy.
In February 1972 the engagement was announced between Prince Richard of Gloucester and Birgitte van Deurs.
The marriage took place on 8 July 1972 at St Andrew’s Church, Barnwell in Northamptonshire, and thereafter the couple were known as Prince and Princess Richard of Gloucester.
Following the tragic death of his older brother, Prince William, in a flying accident on 28 August 1972, and the death of his father in 1974, Prince Richard succeeded to his father’s title, The Duke of Gloucester, and his wife became The Duchess of Gloucester.
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester have three children: The Earl of Ulster (Alexander Windsor), born in 1974, The Lady Davina Lewis, born in 1977 and The Lady Rose Gilman, born in 1980, all of whom are married and have children of their own.
Supporting The Queen
The Duchess of Gloucester supports The Queen in her role as Head of State by representing Her Majesty at events in the UK and abroad, as well as attending state and ceremonial occasions alongside other members of the Royal Family. Her Royal Highness also accompanies her husband The Duke of Gloucester on visits across the country.
The Duchess attends a number of important Royal occasions each year, such as Trooping the Colour and Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph in central London. She will also accompany The Duke to important commemorations and services such as the Victory in Japan ceremony at St Martin in the Fields.
Her Royal Highness will also support The Queen at official engagements such as State Banquets, religious services, Garden Parties and receptions. At times, The Duchess accompanies The Duke of Gloucester on his official visits including those overseas. One of the first such visits was to Mexico in 1973. More recently, she attended the Inauguration of Pope Francis at the Vatican with The Duke of Gloucester in 2013.
Charities and Patronages
Hope for Youth Northern IrelandWebsite: www.royal.uk
Helps children and families in Northern Ireland who have been adversely affected by violence.Region: UK (Northern Ireland)Members of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Gloucester, Chief Patron
King Edward's School, WitleyWebsite: www.kesw.surrey.sch.uk
EducationRegion: UK (England)Members of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Gloucester, President
Medical Women's FederationWebsite: www.medicalwomensfederation.org.uk
Body working to advance the personal and professional development of women in medicine.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Gloucester, Patron
Missing PeopleWebsite: www.missingpeople.org.uk
Volunteer-run organisation helping to put relatives and friends to make contact with missing people.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Gloucester, Royal Patron
Music in Hospitals and CareWebsite: www.musicinhospitals.org.uk
Aims to improve quality of life for people with all kinds of illness or disability through music.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Gloucester, Patron
Papworth TrustWebsite: www.papworth.org.uk
Supports disabled people to be more independent at home or work.Region: UK (England)Members of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Gloucester, Patron
Parkinson's UKWebsite: www.parkinsons.org.uk
Provide support, advice and information to people with Parkinson's, their carers and their families.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Gloucester, Patron
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) AssociationWebsite: www.pspassociation.org.uk
Sponsors research into Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and offers support for affected families.Region: EuropeMembers of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Gloucester, Royal Patron
Prostate Cancer UKWebsite: www.prostatecanceruk.org
Raises awareness about prostrate disease, and funds research into treatment.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Gloucester, Royal Patron
Queen Mary, University of LondonWebsite: www.qmul.ac.uk
Multi-faculty college of the University of London.Region: UK (England)Members of the Royal Family:Her Majesty The Queen, Patron
The Duchess of Gloucester, Fellow