queen

Celebrations for the Queen and the royal family

The Duke of Gloucester is marking his 76th birthday

Gemma Strong

It's a special day for the British royal family. The Queen's paternal cousin, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is celebrating his 76th birthday. The Duke will most likely mark his special day at home with his Danish wife of 48 years, Birgitte. The couple, who share three children together, reside at the Old Stables within the grounds of Kensington Palace.

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Watch: Before they were royal

Richard has been a full-time working royal for more than 45 years now – although this was far from his original plan. He was born in 1944 to the-then Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the son of King George V and Queen Mary, and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester.

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The Duke of Gloucester with his wife, Birgitte

It was his elder brother, Prince William of Gloucester, who was the one in line to inherit his father's titles and, as such, Richard planned for a non-royal life, eventually graduating from Cambridge with a degree in architecture. But in 1972, Prince William was killed in a flying accident. From that point on, Richard took on increased duties within the royal family, and in 1974 succeeded his father as the Duke of Gloucester.

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Prince Richard (left) with his parents and older brother, Prince William

Richard met his wife Birgitte at Cambridge, and they were engaged in February 1972 with the groom-to-be designing the beautiful coral and silver engagement ring. They were married in July 1972 at St Andrew’s Church in Barnwell, Northamptonshire, with the bride opting for a dress designed by Norman Hartnell, a favourite designer amongst the royal family. Just six weeks after their special day, Prince William lost his life.

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The happy couple pictured on their wedding day in 1972

The couple are proud parents to three children: Alexander, Earl of Ulster, a former British army Major who is a father to two children with wife Claire Booth; Lady Davina, who has two children with her ex-husband Gary Lewis; and Lady Rose, also a mother of two with husband George Gilman.

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The Duke with his two daughters

For many years, the family lived in Apartment 1 in Kensington Palace, where their neighbours at one time included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. But last year, Richard and Birgitte decided to downsize to the Old Stables. After a £400,000 renovation mostly aimed at upgrading outdated mechanical and electrical systems, the couple moved in last September.

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