Who is the Duke of Gloucester? Meet the Queen's cousin who used to be an architect

·Royal Correspondent
·4 min read
Britain's Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, arrives to attend a service of commemoration and thanksgiving to mark Anzac Day in Westminster Abbey in London on April 25, 2019. - Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landed at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, here in April 2019, is one of the working members of the Royal Family. (Getty Images)

He’s a senior royal who has carried out hundreds of engagements over four decades and represents numerous charities.

But even the most avid royal fan could be forgiven for not being sure who Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester is.

He is a working royal who never intended to hold his position, but has given up his career to dedicate his time to the Queen, his cousin, and to Britain.

Richard was born Prince Richard of Gloucester on 26 August 1944, but as the younger brother of Prince William of Gloucester, he wasn’t thought to be destined to a particular royal life.

He is the grandson of King George V, so he and Queen Elizabeth are cousins.

As Richard had an older brother, he never expected to inherit the dukedom, or ever carry out royal duties.

He trained as an architect, going to Cambridge University from 1963 to 1966, and then from 1967 to 1969.

He then became a practising partner in an architect firm, Hunt Thompson Associates in London.

The tragedy struck the family. Richard’s older brother, Prince William of Gloucester, died after he crashed his plane during a flying competition.

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Prince William of Gloucester walks between his parents the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester in the grounds of the family home near Peterborough. With them is Prince Richard   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Prince William of Gloucester walks between his parents the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and Prince Richard. William died in 1972. (PA Images via Getty Images)

William was taking part in an event in Wolverhampton when his plane hit a tree and crashed into the ground. The resulting fire took two hours to control, and he and his flying companion were identified by their dental records.

It meant that Richard became heir apparent of the dukedom, and two years later, quit his job to focus on royal life.

But being a full time royal hasn’t completely stopped Richard’s work with architecture. Many of his patronages reflect his previous career, including Habitat for Humanity, which works to eliminate poverty housing, and the Construction Youth Trust, which helps people under 30 get into the industry.

He’s also president of the Society of Architect Artists and a commissioner on the Historic Building and Monuments Commission for England.

The duke is married to Birgitte van Deurs, who he met at university. Because of his position to the throne at the time, he had to request permission from the Queen to marry her - which was granted.

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Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester and Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester in the wedding car following their wedding ceremony in St Andrew's Church at Barnwell, Northamptonshire, England, 8th July 1972. (Photo by Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester and Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester on their wedding day in July 1972. (Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester and Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester attend the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Mr Thomas Kingston at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 18, 2019 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
The duke and duchess at Lady Gabriella Windsor's wedding in May 2019. (Getty Images)

Van Deurs is now the Duchess of Gloucester, and she carries out royal engagements too, and has her own patronages.

They have three children, and six grandchildren, but none of them carry out royal duties.

The duke and duchess are neighbours of Prince William and Kate when the younger royals are in London, as they also live in Kensington Palace.

Despite both being past retirement age, the duke, 76, and duchess, 74, continue in their royal work, and kept up with their patronages with phone calls during lockdown.

The duke first represented the Queen in 1970, when he travelled to the wedding of Crown Prince Birendra of Nepal.

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 19:  (L-R) Prince Richard the Duke of Gloucester, Birgitte the Duchess of Gloucester and Kenneth Clarke MP gather prior to the Inauguration Mass for Pope Francis in St Peter's Square on March 19, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The mass is being held in front of an expected crowd of up to one million pilgrims and faithful who have filled the square and the surrounding streets to see the former Cardinal of Buenos Aires officially take up his role as pontiff. Pope Francis’ inauguration takes place in front of Cardinals and spiritual leaders as well as heads of state from around the world.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Prince Richard the Duke of Gloucester, and Birgitte the Duchess of Gloucester with Kenneth Clarke MP as the duke represented the Queen at the Inauguration Mass for Pope Francis in 2013. (Getty Images)

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He’s also been to the independence celebrations of the Seychelles, the Solomon Islands, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Vanuatu.

And he’s been vital to the Queen since she has stopped being able to travel abroad, representing her at the funeral of King Tupou V of Tonga in March 2012, and at the inauguration of Pope Francis at the Vatican in March 2013.

In March 2018 he went to Malawi for the Commonwealth Day celebrations.

As working royals, the duke and duchess receive a portion of the sovereign grant, but most of their income is supplemented by the Queen.

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