Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester departs the Order Of The Garter Service at Windsor Castle on June 19, 2023 in Windsor, England.

Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester departs the Order Of The Garter Service at Windsor Castle on June 19, 2023 in Windsor, England. Getty

The Duchess of Gloucester – wife of Queen Elizabeth’s cousin Prince Richard, The Duke of Gloucester - is a full-time working member of the Royal Family. 

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.

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.

Supporting the Monarch

The Duchess of Gloucester supports The King in his role as Head of State by representing His Majesty at events in the UK and abroad, as she did in support of the late Queen Elizabeth II, 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 also accompanies The Duke to key commemorations and services such as the Victory in Japan ceremony at St Martin in the Fields.

Her Royal Highness attends 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.