The Queen’s cousin has been praised for her ‘quiet dignity’ – but who exactly is this mysterious royal?

The Queen's cousin is one of the hardest working members of the royal family, but little is known about the Duchess of Gloucester's background

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 12: Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester attends day eleven of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Karwai Tang/Getty Images)

The Queen's cousin is one of the least known members of the Royal Family – and it's about time that changed. 

  • The Queen's cousin-in-law, the Duchess of Gloucester, rarely makes headlines, despite her ongoing commitment to royal service. 
  • Danish-born Birgitte has been married to Prince Richard, the Queen's first cousin, since 1972 and has earned a strong reputation as one of the hardest-working royals. 
  • In other royal news, Kate Middleton's favorite bag now comes in a new shade for spring.

Who exactly is the Duchess of Gloucester? 

Born in Denmark in 1946, the Duchess of Gloucester grew up far from the bells and whistles of royal life. Her father, a lawyer, sent her to finishing schools at Cambridge and Lausanne, where she was taught upper-class social customs like etiquette and deportment. She later completed a business course in Copenhagen, before moving to the UK at the age of 25. 

How did the Duchess of Gloucester become a royal? 

The Duchess of Gloucester first met Prince Richard while she was attending finishing school at Cambridge. The Queen’s cousin was a student at the prestigious university at the time, reading architecture in the hopes of becoming a world-class designer. Their relationship didn’t take off until Birgitte moved to London in 1971, where she began working as a secretary for the Royal Danish Embassy. They announced their engagement the following year, marrying in a low-profile wedding ceremony at St. Andrew’s Church in the summer of 1972. 

What does the Duchess of Gloucester do? 

You may not know it by browsing the tabloids, but the Duchess of Gloucester holds a serious VIP status inside the Royal Family. 

Birgitte is involved with over 60 charities and organizations, undertaking hundreds of official engagements every year. Her wide array of interests, which includes children’s welfare, medical research projects, and community initiatives, means her calendar is always jam-packed – even in the midst of a global pandemic. 

She and her husband recently completed March The Month, an annual fundraiser for Prostate UK which challenges participants to walk 11,000 steps every day for the month of March. A patron of the men’s health charity for several years now, the duchess never misses an opportunity to show her support to its campaigns. 

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 Why is the Duchess of Gloucester so special? 

The Duchess has been lauded multiple times for her ongoing commitment to public service, with several fans championing her as the underdog of the Royal Family. 

“Birgitte – HRH The Duchess of Gloucester – is probably the least known ‘working royal’, but she has been the perfect example of quiet dignity and service for almost 50 years now,” one Twitter user wrote. 

Another fan named the Duchess of Gloucester as one of the ‘best non-royal Royal wives,’ praising her for her quiet, hardworking nature. 

Birgitte’s impressive work ethic is a strong reminder of the importance of the extended members of the Royal Family. While she and the Duke of Gloucester may not be at the forefront of royal news, many people believe their continuous contribution to British society deserves more recognition and celebration. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.