Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, (Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel; born 25 December 1936) is the youngest granddaughter of King George V and Queen Mary.
The widow of Sir Angus Ogilvy, prior to her marriage she was known as Princess Alexandra of Kent, the first princess to use the territorial designation of Kent since the accession to the throne of her great-great-grandmother Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent as Queen Victoria.
Described as “one of the most popular members of the royal family”, Princess Alexandra has carried out many engagements on behalf of her first cousin, Queen Elizabeth II. As of January 2016, she is 50th in the line of succession to the thrones of 16 states; at the time of her birth in 1936, she was sixth.
Princess Alexandra was born on 25 December 1936 at 3 Belgrave Square, London. Her parents were Prince George, Duke of Kent (the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary) and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, a daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia. She was named after her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra; her grandmother, Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark; and both of her maternal aunts, Countess Elizabeth of Törring-Jettenbach and Princess Olga of Yugoslavia. She received the name Christabel because she was born on Christmas Day, like her aunt by marriage, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. Her birth was the last to have the tradition of having the Home Secretary present to verify the birth of potential heirs to the throne.Secretary Sir John Simon was present and was the last to do this.
As a male-line granddaughter of the British monarch, she was styled as a British princess with the prefix Her Royal Highness. At the time of her birth, she was sixth in the line of succession to the British throne, behind her cousins Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, her uncle the Duke of Gloucester, her father the Duke of Kent, and her elder brother Prince Edward. She was born two weeks after the abdication of her uncle King Edward VIII.
The Princess was baptised in the Private Chapel of Buckingham Palace, on 9 February 1937, and her godparents were: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (her paternal uncle and aunt); the Queen of Norway (her great-aunt); Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark (her maternal grandmother); Princess Olga of Yugoslavia (her maternal aunt); the Princess Beatrice (her paternal great-great-aunt); the Earl of Athlone (her paternal great-uncle); and Count Karl Theodor of Toerring-Jettenbach (her maternal uncle by marriage). Of her godparents, only the King and Queen and Lord Athlone were present.
Princess Alexandra spent most of her childhood at her family’s country house, Coppins, in Buckinghamshire. She lived with her grandmother, Queen Mary, the widow of George V, during World War II at Badminton. Her father was killed in an aeroplane crash near Caithness, Scotland on 25 August 1942 while serving in the Royal Air Force. Princess Alexandra has the distinction of being the first British princess to have attended a boarding school, Heathfield School near Ascot. She then studied in Paris. She was also trained at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
She was a bridesmaid at the 1946 wedding of Captain Lord Brabourne and Lady Patricia Mountbatten. The following year, she served as bridesmaid at the wedding of her cousins, the then-Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh, on 20 November 1947. The Queen is Princess Alexandra’s paternal first cousin; the Duke of Edinburgh is Princess Alexandra’s maternal first cousin once removed.
She was also a bridesmaid at the 1962 wedding of Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and her second cousin, Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark.
On 24 April 1963, she married the Hon. Angus James Bruce Ogilvy (1928–2004), the second son of the 12th Earl of Airlie and Lady Alexandra Coke, at Westminster Abbey. The wedding ceremony was attended by the royal family and was broadcast worldwide on television, watched by an estimated 200 million people.
The bride wore a wedding gown of Valenciennes lace, with matching veil and train, designed by John Cavanagh with the City of London diamond fringe tiara. Angus Ogilvy declined the Queen’s offer to be created an earl upon marriage, so their children carry no titles.
Angus Ogilvy was knighted in 1988 (when Princess Alexandra assumed the style of The Hon. Lady Ogilvy), later being sworn of the Privy Council in 1997. Princess Alexandra and Sir Angus had two children, James and Marina, and four grandchildren:
James Robert Bruce Ogilvy (born 29 February 1964 in Thatched House Lodge, Richmond Park, Surrey), married and has issue:
Flora Alexandra Ogilvy (born 15 December 1994 in Edinburgh, Scotland)
Alexander Charles Ogilvy (born 12 November 1996 in Edinburgh, Scotland)
Marina Victoria Alexandra Ogilvy (born 31 July 1966 in Thatched House Lodge, Richmond Park, Surrey), married on 2 February 1990 at Richmond Park, Surrey, and divorced on 15 October 1997 Paul Julian Mowatt (Hendon, 28 November 1962), a photographer, and has issue:
Zenouska May Mowatt (born 26 May 1990 in London)
Christian Alexander Mowatt (born 4 June 1993 in London)
Since the late 1950s, Princess Alexandra has carried out an extensive programme of engagements in support of the Queen, both in the United Kingdom and overseas. Taking part in roughly 120 engagements each year, Princess Alexandra is one of the most active members of the royal family. The number of her engagements in 2012 were 110. However, in late June 2013 she cancelled all future engagements due to arthritis.
Princess Alexandra was almost 16 years old when her cousin acceded to the throne. The only other princesses by birth were the Queen’s sister Margaret, the Queen’s young daughter, Princess Anne, the Queen and Princess Alexandra’s great-aunt Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, and their aunt Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood.
In 1959, she carried out an extensive tour of Australia, and attended the Queensland Centenary Celebrations. The Alexandra Waltz was composed for this visit by radio legend, Russ Tyson, and television musical director, Clyde Collins. It was sung for the princess by teen-aged Gay Kahler, who later changed her name to Gay Kayler.
In 1961 Princess Alexandra visited Hong Kong and made a visit to So Uk Estate, a public housing complex.
Princess Alexandra returned to Australia in 1967 for a private holiday, but also carried out engagements in Canberra and Melbourne. The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane is named in her honour.
Princess Alexandra represented the Queen when Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 1 October 1960, and opened the first Parliament on 3 October. Later overseas tours included visits to Canada, Italy, Oman, Hungary, Norway, Japan, Thailand, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands
Princess Alexandra Launched the New Zealand Leander Class Frigate HMNZS Waikato at Harland and Wolff, Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1965
Princess Alexandra opened the Victoria to Brixton section of London Underground’s Victoria line on 23 July 1971.
Princess Alexandra served as Chancellor of Lancaster University from its foundation in 1964 until she relinquished the post in 2005 (when she also accepted an honorary degree in Music). She is also an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Royal College of Physicians. She is also the President of Alexandra Rose Day, which was founded in honour of her great-grandmother, Alexandra of Denmark. She was also patron of The Royal School, Hampstead.
Until it was abolished in 2013, Princess Alexandra received £225,000 per year from the Civil List to cover the cost of official expenses; although as with the other members of the royal family (except the Duke of Edinburgh) the Queen repaid this amount to the Treasury. Alexandra lives at Thatched House Lodge in Richmond, London, a Crown property purchased on a 150-year lease from the Crown Estate Commissioners by Sir Angus Ogilvy after their wedding in 1963.
It was reported in the London Evening Standard on 11 January 2006 that, as a widow living alone, Princess Alexandra felt that the seven-bedroom house was too full of memories and that she wanted to sell her lease. However, to date she continues to live there. She also has use of a grace-and-favour apartment at St James’s Palace in London.
She is the patron of the Blackie Foundation Trust, a charity dedicated to the promotion of research and education in homoeopathy. She is also a patron of the English National Opera; the London Philharmonic Choir; the not-for-profit housing association Anchor; the charity Independent Age; St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham, England; Core, a National charity in London dedicated to funding research into digestive diseases and which also publishes information leaflets on the most common diseases of the gut and liver; the Nature in Art Trust and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), the oldest drama school in the English-speaking world. The Princess is president of WWF-UK. She has been the patron of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Sick Children in Brighton since 1954. She is also the Royal Patron of Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB), a charity dedicated to reuniting children who have been separated from their families. She is patron of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, which received its royal style in 2012 during The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.