Why Princess Michael of Kent Is the Most Controversial Royal Family Member

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Why Princess Michael of Kent Is the Most Controversial Royal Family Member

Princess Michael of Kent sparked fury when she showed up to the Queen’s Christmas lunch wearing a racially tinged blackamoor brooch — on the day Meghan Markle, who is biracial, was formally introduced to the royal family by Prince Harry.

But this isn’t the first time Princess Michael has made headlines for her controversial behavior. Dubbed “Princess Pushy,” the wife of the Queen’s first cousin raised eyebrows right from the start.

The former Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz married Prince Michael of Kent, a grandson of King George V, in 1978. Similar to Wallis Simpson, she was divorced and Catholic. She married her first husband, a British banker, in 1971 and they separated in 1973. They were divorced in 1977, and their marriage was annulled by the Pope just one month before her wedding to Prince Michael, who had to give up his right to the succession to the throne in order to marry her. The royal couple has two children, Lord Frederick Windsor and Lady Gabriella Windsor.

Prince Michael of Kent marries Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz in Vienna, 30th June 1978. (Photo by John Downing/Getty Images)
Prince Michael of Kent marries Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz in Vienna, 30th June 1978. (Photo by John Downing/Getty Images)
Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent on their wedding day in June 1978.
John Downing/Getty

Her background also caused a stir. Born in Carlsbad, a German-populated town now part of the Czech Republic, her father, Baron Gunther Hubertus von Reibnitz, was reportedly a Nazi party member. Following the revelation of her father’s Nazi past, she told television viewers in an interview: “My shoulders are broad. I shall have to carry it. I wasn’t alive when all this happened, so I hope people will judge me on my performance, on what I am.”

ASCOT, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 16: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Princess Michael of Kent attends day 3 'Ladies Day' of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 16, 2016 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
ASCOT, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 16: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Princess Michael of Kent attends day 3 ‘Ladies Day’ of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 16, 2016 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Princess Michael of Kent in June 2017
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Princess Michael, who is descended from many branches of European aristocracy, angered members of the royal family when it was reported she said she had more royal blood in her veins than any person to marry into the royal family since Prince Philip.

EPSOM, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 07: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Michael of Kent watch the racing as they attend Derby Day of the Investec Derby Festival at Epsom Racecourse on June 7, 2014 in Epsom, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
EPSOM, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 07: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Michael of Kent watch the racing as they attend Derby Day of the Investec Derby Festival at Epsom Racecourse on June 7, 2014 in Epsom, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Michael of Kent in 2014.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Prince and Princess Michael made headlines again in 2002 when it was revealed that the Queen had been covering their rent. As Kensington officials explained: “The Queen is paying the rent for Prince and Princess Michael of Kent’s apartment at a commercial rate of £120,000 annually, from her own private funds. This rent payment by The Queen is in recognition of the Royal engagements and work for various charities which Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have undertaken at their own expense, and without any public funding.”

It was announced in 2010 that they would have to pay the full rent themselves from then on.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 10: Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent arrives for The National Service of Thanksgiving at St Pauls Cathedral on June 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/Alex Huckle/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 10: Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent arrives for The National Service of Thanksgiving at St Pauls Cathedral on June 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/Alex Huckle/GC Images)
Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent
Neil Mockford/Alex Huckle/GC Images

Princess Michael was accused of racism in 2004. While at a New York restaurant, she was said to have told a group of African American diners to “go back to the colonies.” Following the incident, she attempted to repair her reputation in an interview that only furthered the controversy.

“I even pretended years ago to be an African, a half-caste African, but because of my light eyes I did not get away with it, but I dyed my hair black,” she told ITV.

“I traveled on African buses. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted experiences from Cape Town to right up in northern Mozambique,” she added. “I had this adventure with these absolutely adorable, special people and to call me racist: it’s a knife through the heart because I really love these people.”

She continued to make waves in 2005, when News of the World reporter Mazher Mahmoud claimed she referred to the late Princess Diana as “bitter” and “nasty” and Prince Charles as “jealous” of his then wife’s popularity.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 01: Princess Diana Holding Prince Harry At The Trooping The Colour Ceremony. She Is Talking To Lady Davina Windsor. Also In The Picture: Lady Rose Windsor, Princess Michael Of Kent And Lord Frederick Windsor. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 01: Princess Diana Holding Prince Harry At The Trooping The Colour Ceremony. She Is Talking To Lady Davina Windsor. Also In The Picture: Lady Rose Windsor, Princess Michael Of Kent And Lord Frederick Windsor. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
 Princess Diana stands next to Princess Michael of Kent during Trooping the Colour in 1988.
Tim Graham/Getty

Then in a 2014 interview on Canadian TV, she said the older generation of royals are “boring for most people.” In the same interview, she stated that Princess Diana was “uneducated,” adding that the fact she grew up without a mother made it “much harder to cope” with her royal status.

LONDON - JUNE 14: Princess Michael of Kent, Prince William and waves with Prince Harry from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping of the Colour on June 14, 2008 in London, England. The Trooping of the Colour is the Queen's Annual Birthday Parade and dates back to the time of Charles II in the 17th Century when the Colours of a regiment were used as a rallying point in battle. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
LONDON – JUNE 14: Princess Michael of Kent, Prince William and waves with Prince Harry from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping of the Colour on June 14, 2008 in London, England. The Trooping of the Colour is the Queen’s Annual Birthday Parade and dates back to the time of Charles II in the 17th Century when the Colours of a regiment were used as a rallying point in battle. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Princess Michael of Kent with Prince William and Prince Harry in 2008.
Chris Jackson/Getty
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 11: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Princess Michael of Kent, Prince Harry, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Louise Windsor and Eloise Taylor stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Trooping the Colour Parade on June 11, 2011 in London, England. The ceremony of Trooping the Colour is believed to have first been performed during the reign of King Charles II. In 1748, it was decided that the parade would be used to mark the official birthday of the Sovereign. More than 600 guardsmen and cavalry make up the parade, a celebration of the Sovereign's official birthday, although the Queen's actual birthday is on 21 April. (Photo by Indigo/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 11: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Princess Michael of Kent, Prince Harry, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Louise Windsor and Eloise Taylor stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Trooping the Colour Parade on June 11, 2011 in London, England. The ceremony of Trooping the Colour is believed to have first been performed during the reign of King Charles II. In 1748, it was decided that the parade would be used to mark the official birthday of the Sovereign. More than 600 guardsmen and cavalry make up the parade, a celebration of the Sovereign’s official birthday, although the Queen’s actual birthday is on 21 April. (Photo by Indigo/Getty Images)

 

Princess Michael of Kent with Prince Harry and Kate Middleton in 2011.
Indigo/Getty

In September 2015, she angered animal rights activists when she stated that animals do not have rights because they do not pay taxes, have bank accounts or vote. “You only have rights if you pay your taxes. You earn your rights,” she said.

The Prince and Princess of Kent are now Meghan’s new neighbors. They live in Apartment 10 on the grounds of Kensington Palace, which is a short distance from the newly engaged couple’s cozy cottage. Meghan will spend Christmas with the royal family next week when she joins them at Sandringham, the Queen’s country estate.

Source: PEOPLE COM

Tags: Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, Royals, British Royal Family