The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester Celebrate 50 Years of Marriage With a Low-Key Portrait

Just one month after Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony during the Platinum Jubilee, the couple is celebrating their 50th anniversary with a new official portrait shared on palace social media Friday. The portrait, taken earlier this week outside of their home in Kensington Palace, shows the duke and duchess posing in a garden with a tree and birdhouse in the distance.

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Richard, Queen Elizabeth’s second cousin, and Birgitte are both working royals who support the monarchy with patronages and appearances across the country. The duke is the president of Scottish Society of the Architect-Artists and a supporter of other causes related to architectural heritage, humanitarian issues, and military veterans, while the duchess has supported charities related to the arts, children’s welfare, health, and sports. They live in a small home near the Kensington Palace stables, and have three adult children, Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster, Lady Davina Windsor, and Lady Rose Gilman.

Richard was studying architecture at Cambridge in 1965 when he met the Danish-born Birgitte van Deurs, who was studying at the university’s Bell School of Languages, and they were married in a small ceremony at St. Andrews church in the Northamptonshire village of Barnwell on July 8, 1972. At first, Richard was working as an architect in London and Birgitte was serving as a secretary at the Danish embassy, and neither planned to take on royal work full-time. But eight weeks after the wedding, Richard was put in line for his father’s dukedom when his older brother Prince William died in a plane crash, prompting the couple to transition to royal duties. 

In 1975, royal expert Helen Cathcart wrote about their adjustment to palace life for the magazine Chatelaine, describing Birgitte as a “rock of strength” to Richard’s mother in the wake of the tragedy. “Until then it had seemed that there would be plenty of time for the Danish bride to get used to royal protocol. Instead she was pitched in headfirst,” she wrote. “Today the whole London diplomatic community commends the new Gloucesters as a fresh and dynamic element in the younger age group around the queen.”

In the anniversary portrait, the duchess is wearing a special brooch designed by the duke featuring an insignia of R and B intertwined. According to Royal Central, they plan to celebrate the day privately with their three children and six grandchildren.

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