What to Know About the Duke of Gloucester, Queen Elizabeth's First Cousin

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

At 78, The Duke of Gloucester is well into his 4th decade as a full-time working royal. But like his first cousin, the late Queen Elizabeth, he wasn't born as high in the line of succession as he would eventually rank. Here, what to know about the Duke of Gloucester.

He wasn't planning on becoming a working royal.

The Duke was born Prince Richard of Gloucester in 1944, to the then-Duke of Gloucester (son of King George V and Queen Mary) and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. His elder brother, Prince William of Gloucester, was in line to inherit his father's titles—and as such, he planned for a non-royal professional career.

He graduated from Cambridge with a degree in architecture, and had become a partner at a London architecture firm by 1972, when Prince William died in a flying accident. Afterwards, he resigned from the firm, and took on increased royal duties. In 1974, he succeeded his father as the Duke of Gloucester.

Prince William of Gloucester, Duchess of Gloucester, Prince Richard of Gloucester, Duke of Gloucester.
From left: Prince Richard of Gloucester, Duchess of Gloucester, Prince William of Gloucester, Duke of Gloucester.PA Images - Getty Images

The Duke met his wife at Cambridge.

Originally from Denmark, Birgitte van Deurs was studying in a language program while the Duke was studying architecture. Queen Elizabeth gave the Duke permission to marry Birgitte (now the Duchess of Gloucester) in 1972, prompting the New York Times to run the headline "Queen's Cousin Will Wed a Secretary."

The couple have three children together: the Earl of Ulster, Lady Davina Lewis, and Lady Rose Gilman. All three of their kids are married and have children of their own. None, however, are working royals.

Left to right The Duke of Gloucester with his daughter Lady Davina Windsor (15mths) and the Duchess of Gloucester with Alexander Patrick Gregers Richard (4½ yrs old).The Duke and Duchess  of Gloucester, and  their children Lady Devine Windsor (15mths ol
From left: The Duke of Gloucester, Lady Davina Lewis, the Duchess of Gloucester, and the Earl of Ulster. Fairfax Media Archives - Getty Images

These days, the Duke is still keeping up with his royal duties.

The Duke occasionally represents the royal family at official functions when the monarch can't be there. He also has myriad patronages under his purview, and is the royal family's Trustee of the British Museum.

Per the royal family's website, "The Duke of Gloucester carries out a significant number of public duties and undertakes hundreds of official engagements in the UK and overseas each year. The Duke is associated with over 150 charities and organisations. His patronages reflect his professional and personal interests, which include international humanitarian issues, heritage and the built environment and military veterans. Many of The Duke’s Patronages are related to architecture and conservation, both areas in which The Duke remains deeply interested."

Following Queen Elizabeth's death in September 2022, the Duke of Gloucester attended many of the ceremonial mourning events, and walked behind the late monarch's coffin as it processed from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. He was also seen at the state funeral.

In May 2023, the Duke attending King Charles III's coronation; he is one of only five members of the royal family to have attended both Charles's crowning and that of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 (the other four royals are: the Duke of Kent, Prince Michael, Princess Alexandra, and Charles himself).

Just a month later, he also appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony, as King Charles marked his first Trooping the Colour. (More on that here.)

prince richard
Getty Images (2)

He also appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony during Trooping the Colour in the 2022 Platinum Jubilee celebration.

“After careful consideration, The Queen has decided this year’s traditional Trooping the Colour balcony appearance on Thursday 2nd June will be limited to Her Majesty and those Members of the Royal Family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of The Queen,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said in early May. In fact, he appeared several times during the celebratory weekend.

platinum jubilee
The Gloucesters sat directly in front of the Sussexes during the National Service of Thanksgiving in honor of the Jubilee.Victoria Jones - PA Images - Getty Images

He currently lives at Kensington Palace.

For years, he and his family lived in the spacious Apartment 1, but Prince Richard moved to the Old Stables, a smaller residence which is also located within the Kensington Palace grounds, at some point in 2019.

You Might Also Like