HRH Princess Michael of Kent
Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent is the younger child of the late Baron Gunther von Reibnitz and his wife, the late Marianne, née Countess Szapary. She was born near Carlsbad in Bohemia on the estate of her maternal grandmother Princess Hedwig Windisch - Graetz.
Her Royal Highness descends from ancient European lineage on both sides of her Family. Having lived in Austria, Australia and on her father’s farm in Mozambique, the Princess moved to London from Vienna to continue her historical studies including the History of the Fine and Decorative Arts. Prior to her marriage, Princess Michael formed her own successful interior design company, Szapar Designs. While in London, she met His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, the first cousin of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The couple married in Vienna in 1978 and have two children, Lord Frederick and Lady Gabriella. Lord Frederick graduated in classics from Magdalen College, Oxford, and now works for JP Morgan Bank. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Cambridge graduate and actress Sophie Winkleman, whom he married in September 2009. Lady Gabriella graduated from Brown University, Providence R.I. (majoring in Comparative Literature) and, having worked as a freelance writer, is now studying Social Anthropology at Linacre College, Oxford.
Their Royal Highnesses carry out a great number of public and charitable duties supporting over 100 charities and other not-for-profit organisations of which they are patrons. Additionally, since Their Royal Highnesses do not receive a Civil List, they have the Queen’s permission to earn their livelihood. Both speak a number of languages and have commercial interests in many different fields and countries, not least in Russia. They live in an apartment in Kensington Palace, and since 1st January 2010 Their Royal Highnesses pay the commercial rate of rent therefore Princess Michael has taken on a number of new commissions for lectures and decorating and has joined Gmurzynska Galerie in Zurich as their International Ambassador. The Gallery specializes in Contemporary and Modern Art as well as Impressionists and the Russian Avant Garde.
Her Royal Highness has an abiding love of history and the arts and with such a background, it is not surprising that since her marriage she has written three historical biographies, all of which were bestsellers and translated worldwide: “Crowned in a Far Country:Eight Royal Brides”; “Cupid and the King: Five Royal Paramours”, and “The Serpent and the Moon: Two Rivals for the Love of a Renaissance King”. A mini series of her last book is currently being negotiated. Princess Michael’s fourth book and her first historical novel, “The Queen of Four Kingdoms”, set in 15th Century France, will be published in 2012. Its sequel, "The Mystery of Agnes Sorel" will be published one year later.
It was the success of her first book that stimulated international interest in Princess Michael to give lectures on her specialist subjects, initially speaking to the French Institute in New York City which led to her long association speaking for the Metropolitan Museum (always sold out) and for Sotheby’s in USA. For the past twenty years she has pursued a successful lecture career, speaking on various historical subjects at museums and universities. Her Royal Highness has spoken all over the U.S., principally at museums and universities but also for banks and other commercial institutions. Princess Michael has also lectured in other countries including Canada, Argentina, Greece, Austria, Switzerland and Russia, for a variety of charities and national institutions, most often at eminent museums, universities and galleries.
For 13 years, Her Royal Highness served on the Board of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and as President of Partridge Fine Art in Bond Street. In 2006 Princess Michael re-opened her interior design company Szapar Designs and re-decorated the Presidential Suite at the Baltschug Kempinski Hotel in Moscow. More commissions have followed.
Princess Michael’s other deep love is for her animals - in particular horses, dogs and her adored Siamese and Burmese cats – and is Patron of three animal conservation organizations in Africa which are respectively concerned with cheetahs in South Africa, rhino and wild dogs in Tanzania and an elephant and rhino orphanage in Kenya.
Another passion is Her Royal Highness’ garden. She has a number of lectures in her repertoire on the history of the garden and the Princess is an Honorary Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners.
Princess Michael is also Honorary Freeman of two other livery companies: the Worshipful Company of Weavers and the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths.
HRH was awarded the Order of the Starry Cross, the ladies' equivalent of the Order of the Golden Fleece, by Her Imperial Highness the Archduchess Regina of Austria who died in 2010. Her Royal Highness is a Grand Dame of the Order of Malta, and in September 2010 received the Order of Mercy in recognition of her 32 years unpaid charity work.