You’ll be forgiven for missing this, but another royal wedding is happening tomorrow. At St George’s Chapel Windsor. One day before the one-year anniversary of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. On the same day as the FA Cup Final. We’ve been here before…sort of.
The royal in question is Lady Gabriella (“Ella”) Windsor, a rather junior member of the family, and her bridegroom is a financier named Thomas Kingston.
So, who is Lady Gabriella Windsor? She is the second child and only daughter of Prince Michael of Kent and his wife, Princess Michael (born Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz), and as such is a great-granddaughter of King George V. Prince Michael is the second son of Prince George, Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, Duchess of Kent – we actually covered their 1934 wedding here. His elder brother is Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.
Gabriella and her elder brother, Lord Frederick Windsor, actually grew up at Kensington Palace alongside the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex (in a separate block of apartments). Both siblings attended William’s wedding in 2011, and both were strangely not invited to Harry’s last year. I say strangely only because Frederick and Gabriella are in the mix enough that they usually attend “big” royal events, and take their place on the balcony at Buckingham Palace when the entire family gathers.
That said, William may be closer to the siblings thanks to Frederick. I can’t say for sure because to the best of my knowledge there’s no evidence of the two families gathering the way the Cambridges do with the Tindalls or the Phillipses, but Frederick’s eldest daughter, Maud, is the same age as Prince George, and in fact attends the same school. He and his wife, Lady Frederick (aka Sophie Winkleman, a working actress), also have a second daughter, Isabella, who was born in January 2016, thus making her close in age to Princess Charlotte.
Both siblings were most certainly on hand for the wedding of Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank last year, and in fact Maud, who is Eugenie’s goddaughter, served as one of the bridesmaids alongside Charlotte (while George was a pageboy). Pictured above is Gabriella with her fiance. And pictured here in Frederick dutifully taking photos of his sister at Wimbledon:
So, back to Gabriella. She was educated in England via Queen’s Gate School in London, and then Downe House School in Berkshire. Fellow pupils at the latter included the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister, Pippa Matthews, however the Middletons rather famously pulled the girls from the school because Kate was being bullied (this has never been confirmed). After graduation, Gabriella went to Brown University in Rhode Island (in the United States), and then later received her MPhil in social anthropology from Linacre College, Oxford. As such, she is one of the most educated members of the Royal Family, a fact which her mother is fond of telling the press.
Since then, she was launched a pretty impressive career, currently serving as Senior Director for Branding Latin America, and a regular contributor for London Magazine. She also serves on the boards of charitable organizations, including Playing for Change Foundation and Toucan Ventures. She has also spent time in Latin America teaching English.
Gabriella and her fiance, Thomas Kingston, have been engaged since August 2018.
Last year, there was a minor incident when one of her ex-boyfriends wrote an article for Vanity Fair about their relationship – though to be fair, its point was to discuss race and the Royal Family in the lead up to the Sussexes’ marriage. Well, not to be fair, I guess, since he shared a lot of personal details that really didn’t need to be, including skinny dipping and drug use at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. My favorite passage may well be this:
The British, with their many class anxieties and resentments, hate how much they love their royal family, and one of the ways they express this quixotic love is through a naked hatred of minor royalty. The position of the Kents, low down in the food chain—roughly the equivalent of the deputy secretary of transportation in the American line of succession, as my college magazine rudely pointed out—was especially precarious. They should have been nobodies, just left alone to lead a civilian life. But Prince Michael, the younger brother of the Duke of Kent, was first cousin to the Queen, and that made him a somebody: an unshakable H.R.H. clung to his name. It was an official designation, and it meant that, as Her Majesty’s representative, he had to carry out a whole range of duties, from patronizing charities to giving prizes. Even Ella was not spared, here breaking a bottle of champagne on the bow of a boat, there opening the Newbury horse races. I have happy memories of KP—Burmese cats in window seats and wooden commodes, deep bathtubs and walled gardens—but the truth is that until Will and Kate arrived to liven up the place, Kensington Palace was wildly depressing.
But this is the heart of the piece, really:
Princess Michael—recently in trouble again, for wearing a racist blackamoor brooch to her first lunch with Meghan Markle—was famously scandal-prone. During the week Ella was graduating from Brown, her mother was on the cover of the New York Post under the headline ROYAL BIGOT. She had apparently told some noisy diners of color at Da Silvano, an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village, to go back to the colonies. “I would never have said that,” she later confided to me. “I’m a historian. I know that America itself was a colony.” She feigned an odd mixture of injustice and contrition: “I daren’t even say I want my coffee black anymore. I say, ‘Without milk.’”
I would have liked to believe her, but I had my doubts. It was not that her father had allegedly been an SS officer, albeit a reluctant one; royals and Nazis go together like blini and caviar. It was that everyone above a certain age in Britain is at least a tiny bit racist. The colonial past made it almost second nature for Britons born at the tail end of the Raj to treat roughly a quarter of the planet as subject peoples. I was one of the first natives of that former empire to be dating a member of the royal family, and soon Gary Lewis, a Maori builder and surfer, married Lady Davina Windsor, daughter of the Duke of Gloucester. Princess Michael, though generally free of British colonial prejudices, and beyond reproach when it came to me, nevertheless invited trouble out of what felt like a desire to shock: her pair of black sheep in Gloucestershire were named Venus and Serena.
Most everybody thought she was “perfectly ghastly,” but I saw a nice side of Princess Michael. She could be funny, intelligent, generous, and she was a lot more industrious than the other royals—she wrote books and decorated houses! Her tragedy was she never understood that element of understatement that is so much the secret of survival for the royal family. “Well, Dickie,” the Queen is reported to have said when Lord Mountbatten, Earl of Burma and Prince Philip’s uncle, first spoke to her of Princess Michael as a prospective bride for Prince Michael, “she sounds a bit too grand for us.” And she was, now chiding people for calling her Marie Christine instead of “Your Royal Highness,” now tracing her lineage back to Charlemagne.
Poor Princess Michael! She failed to acquire that one quality that is the supreme attribute of British royalty: coziness. Prince Michael was cozy; Prince Charles is cozy; the Queen, by all accounts, is a tea cozy. But Princess Michael was, fatally, about as cozy as a yellow jacket on speed. She was Marie Antoinette in a nation that finds bananas too exotic.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Princess Michael lately in the context of William’s and Harry’s conjugal choices. She was of the firm belief that it was a bad idea for royalty to marry commoners. “It’s all very well Ella marrying Mr. Taseer from India, or Pakistan,” she once said to me. “No one knows what to do with that. But the moment the girl down the road thinks she can be Princess, or Queen, it’s all over. The mystery is gone.”
Well, they didn’t get married, and so here we are. The wedding ceremony tomorrow will be at St George’s Chapel, and the reception at Frogmore House, the site of Harry and Meghan’s second, private reception last year. Unlike them, or Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, there won’t a carriage ride and this is very much a private event. There will, however, be photos, though we don’t know for sure who will be in attendance.
Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Queen will be there, however William’s presence is unlikely because he will be at the FA Final Cup. It’s possible that he and Kate will pop over to the reception, but less likely, and if they do, we may never see any photographic evidence. Harry and Meghan will of course be nearby, but I would imagine the x-factor there is Archie.
It’s also possible we’ll see the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as the Duke of York, the Princess Royal, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex, but we won’t know for sure until tomorrow.
It’s a safe bet that we’ll get Princess Eugenie, and possibly Princess Beatrice (no idea if she’s in the country or not). And we’ve very likely to see Pippa and her husband, since they invited Gabriella and Thomas to their own wedding in 2017. Pippa and Thomas reportedly used to date after post-Pippa’s 2011 breakup and remain friendly.
And almost certainly we’ll see the Duke and Duchess of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and their various offspring and relations. Depending on who turns up, I’ll attempt to connect all the familial dots in a post 😉
With that, happy royal wedding eve! This is likely the only one we’re getting this year, so enjoy it!