H.R.H. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. and his new Duchess, the former Katharine Worsley, leave York Minster on their wedding day.
Do the hashtags #Moonbump or #fakepregnancy mean anything to you? Social media is alive with rumors and photos claiming to show that current member of the British Royal family is faking a pregnancy–likely due to using a surrogate. The web claims that royal once admitted in a very long ago interview that I have not read, that she had surgery so cannot have a baby. I’ve read it all, seen all the photos, and admit I have concerns. Whatever! This post is not going to sort THAT all out! Instead today I’m looking at two very sad royal pregnancies endured by the same lovely royal lady, one of which was somewhat #faked–well, “disguised” or “camoflagued” and both of which ended in tragedy.
Like Princess Eugenie and Jack, the Kents had to wait on Princess Margaret’s marriage to finally tie the knot. Here they are just before their wedding at a horse races.
The Queen’s first cousin, H.R.H. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, married the very lovely Katharine Worsley. She is perhaps best known as the lovely blonde who gave the trophies at Wimbledon and hugged Martina in center court to comfort her. Like Diana, she was a people person–she hugged, visited sick children in hospital and when life wasn’t going her way she quietly took a job teaching music in a state [i.e. public] school in the very disadvantaged city of Hull. And, she never tweeted or Instagramed about it, not even once. Nor did she alert the media about anything she did.
This royal wife endured much of what other women who married into the House of Windsor have endured. The men in suits didn’t care much for her. Her own VERY royal mother-in-law, the one who called the Queen Mother and the late Duchess of Gloucester “those common Scottish girls” truly did NOT like her or welcome her. (That was Princess Marina, Prince Philip’s cousin who married Queen Elizabeth’s Uncle George.) The palace could have learned a LOT from this marriage that would have helped Charles and Diana in time.
Back in 1977, Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Silver Jubilee–25 years on the throne. There were three royal ladies pregnant that year–Princess Anne, who deservedly had pride of place, was expecting the Queen and Prince Philip’s first grandchild. The Duchess of Gloucester was expecting her second child and the Duchess of Kent was expecting her fourth. Even at 14, I thought it odd that this gracious and lovely lady, who wasn’t due until later in the fall was going about in bulky maternity clothes already. But my grandmother said that could happen in later pregnancies so I gave it no more thought. (It would be up to Anne, who called pregnancy “a hazard of being a wife,” to introduce husband’s army sweaters and the like to royal off-duty maternity wear.)
Katharine, surrounded by husband Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and their surviviving children, Lord Nicholas and Lady Helen Windsor and the Earl of St. Andrews at the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Service 1977. Photo is by Serge Lemoine in his book Silver Jublilee Year: A Complete Pictoral Record. [See the end of the post for complete information].
Fast-forward many years when I read the very well done biography of “Kate Kent” as she was sometimes called in the press. The Kents, chose to cover up how far along the pregnancy was–and called the stillbirth of their third son a “miscarriage.” To make it all even sadder, it occurred the week of the Duke’s birthday. I cannot imagine how they felt as they endured all of this. [For the record, my mother carried my deceased twin until labor started naturally about 6 weeks before the due date].
Katharine Kent’s horrors aren’t confined to this tragedy though. Earlier in the 1970s, she would undergo what was termed a “medically necessary” abortion due to exposure to German measles. [How different are two countries, I ask you? Imagine someone in public life SURVIVING after the world “abortion” was appended to them?] In an age when it was generally reviled and rarely legal, she had to make that decision. Poor lady.
Katharine accompanies her youngest child, Lord Nicholas Windsor, to the rehearsal for Charles and Diana’s wedding at St. Paul’s. Nicky is a Godson of Prince Charles and was a pageboy in the wedding along with the son of the family who moved in to Amner Hall–Edward Van Cutsem.
Well, sadly, poor Katharine could not cope with the loss of two babies. Who could? She had a complete breakdown. Her marriage was all but dead by then, but both Kents are truly devoted to their children and grandchildren. Eddie is a “devout” member of the Royal Family and, so, for good or bad, they did not divorce. Katharine found comfort in faith and became a Roman Catholic, as did her sons and some of her grandchildren later on. [Her younger son, Lord Nicholas, is an anti-abortion crusader today]. Her husband retained his distant place in the succession to the throne because she was not a Catholic at the time of their marriage. (This is no longer an impediment to royal marriage).
TRH The Duke and Duchess of Kent at the wedding of Prince Harry.
In time, Katharine regained her equilibrium and returned occasionally to royal life. The Kents gave up Amner Hall–the house that is today William and the other Catherine’s country home. When Charles and Diana divorced, the couple relinquished York House for Prince Charles to use. (He moved to Clarence House after the death of his grandmother several years later.) Today she is mostly seen at Royal Family events like weddings and occasionally still at Wimbledon. Sadly, these days she often looks very confused and people around her in photos are often showing real concern toward her.
I think it is important to recall the real tragedies THIS royal duchess endured with grace. Hopefully, those claiming Sussexes are not being truthful know about The Duchess of Kent’s tragedies and care about the suffering Katharine endured.
Update: This year (2020) the Kent’s stillborn son has been accorded the dignity of his name and curtesy title being used in articles on the family. Lord Patrick Windsor is now, at last, given the respect he has long been due. Times change. In 1977 it was not unusual to say nothing more–especially in public and especially in the aristocracy or among royal families. The Duchess of Kent and her husband the Duke of Kent, aka H.R.H. Prince Edward George Nicholas Paul Patrick obviously were following traditional naming. It is easy to think that the child sadly lost to German Measles would have been christened “Paul,” if a boy.
Photo of Katharine and family at the Queen’s Silver Jubilee is from this book:
The information on Katharine’s pregnancies comes from this book: