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  #121  
Old 07-17-2011, 04:57 PM
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Really interesting find Dierna23...Do you perhaps know on which estate Marie-Christine was born?

About M-C and her family I found one article from the newspapers regarding her father and his membership in SS party where it is said:

"Born Marie Christine von Reibnitz in Bohemia, the ethnic German region of Czechoslovakia, in 1945, the princess and her family have indicated that they are of Austrian descent and were anti-Nazi."

So,I assume this line of von Reibnitz family considers itself as Austrian...

Reibnitz family belongs to "niederschlesischen uradel" which means "old nobililty of lower Silesia",but apart from this line,some other branches of this family can be found in Prussia,Saxony,Pomerania and Kurland!
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  #122  
Old 08-19-2011, 05:11 PM
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I have a follow-up question and I hope this is the right thread to ask it in.

I have read a few interviews by Princess Michael, most of the threads about her on this forum over the years, and just started reading "Serpant and the Moon". She opens up by explaining how she traveled from Austria to London at 21 years old. This is where I put the book down and had to figure out why it almost seems like her years in Australia do not exist. Does anyone know what happened to her in Australia? I'm so baffled by the skillful way she responds to questions which always seem to leave one with the impression that she has never stepped foot in Australia. It's not just in this book, it is a consistent pattern with numerous examples I can point to.

My guess is that she is ashamed about the neighborhood/region/country. But why?

If this has already been addressed in the forum could someone kindly point me to the answer (or share it here)?
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  #123  
Old 08-20-2011, 08:34 AM
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Don't know anything exactly how she feels about Australia,but I can just imagine how can someone feel generally if you know that you are a now refugee in an adoptive country far away from your cousins,relatives and family friends,that your family lived very grand life before and now everything was taken away,that your parents were divorced,that your mother had to sell a tiara when she came to Sydney to open a beauty salon in Double Bay,that you are born in a palace and now had to live in eastern suburbs of Sydney a in a house behind Waverly tram depot near Bondi Junction,maybe even the fact that you had to go to strict Roman Catholic Kincoppal Rose Bay convent for girls in order to be raised properly...

Not sure,of course,but if you combine all those things together,not a very pleasant memory of ones childhood...so maybe that's why she decided to go to Europe as early as she could,maybe just to get away a little bit from reality,bad memories you had to live with for years!
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  #124  
Old 08-22-2011, 05:37 PM
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The only 2 things I can say for sure is that her mother did not run a beauty salon/hairdressers etc, that is an often referred to myth countered by the wonderfully researched autobiograthy of the Princess by Peter Lane, and the school she went to was and remains one of the most exclusive in Sydney so her family clearly were not short of money in her youth, if at all.
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  #125  
Old 08-25-2011, 05:58 AM
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Very good observations, PrinceS! MC indeed never seemed comfortable with her Australia years. Marc23's explanation as to why she might not feel proud of that period of her life has covered me completely.
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  #126  
Old 08-25-2011, 03:37 PM
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Please could I add a little background here? I would also be interested in Blackadder could give her opinon about what I say below.

I do know a tiny bit about Princess Michael of Kent because my great aunt knew the Troubridges [the family that Princess Michael of Kent first married into; her first husband, Tom, was a friend of Prince Michael of Kent from his schooldays]. By coincidence, a friend of my mother in law also lived in the same block of mansion flats in Victoria [London] where Princess Michael had a flat when she first came to England. In those days, this friend reported that Marie-Christine spoke with a VERY pronounced Australian accent. She subsequently modified this to an Austrian accent. She now speaks with a mostly very-English accent, although occasionally using non-idiomatic words: for example, I once heard her [talking about a horse in foal] 'that the mare had [a foal] in the stomach' The phrase I have underlined is just a small example of what I mean....not totally wrong, but not 'typical English usage' either.

In my very humble opinion, I do think that part of the problem with Princess Michael is that there have always been a number of very conflicting stories about her. I also have to say that I am afraid that sometimes it seems that Princess Michael of Kent herself has contributed to the confusion.

Princess Michael was a friend of the former Daily Mail Diary [Society] columnist, the well-connected Nigel Dempster [both his marriages were to aristocrats] and whereas most newspaper 'hacks' are just journalists, Dempster himself had been a 'Deb's Delight' in the 1950's - in other words, he really did mix with the 'High Society' members that he wrote about. Incidentally, Dempster himself was Australian. Princess Michael was frequently in touch with Dempster, even to the extent of actually telephoning the man himself. She also frequently granted him interviews, and during one of these explained that she had a Degree [in the History of Art] from the University of Vienna, a fact that Dempster frequently repeated in the warm and favourable stories that he used to run about the Princess from time to time. This was an incrediby prestigious qualification from one of the leading universities in Europe and it seemed that she was wonderfully qualified to run Szapar Designs. Unfortunately, admid much embarrasment all round, this was subsequently found to be untrue. Princess Michael had studied only on 'short courses' held by museums in London - there was no degree!!

It has to be said that before Princess Diana 'arrived on the scene', the British public had an enormous fascination for Princess Michael. Her manner of fashionable dressing was fairly unique amongst the female members of the BRF at that time; Princess Alexandra, the Duchess of Kent and Princess Anne all dressed 'appropriately', but I do not think that anyone would have called them 'very fashionable'. Princess Michael was also an enormously visible presence - partly this was due to her height and also, it has to be said, partly due to her manner of 'taking centre stage' during Royal Family appearances etc. It is my humble opinion that when she married Prince Michael, the BRF thought that she would 'fade out of the spotlight'; Prince Michael was NOT on the Civil List [as it then was] and had had an Army career and did not do royal duties, which were left to his elder brother and his sister. And then suddenly, here came Marie Christine, always very prominent. You could not miss her. It is even the same today - we members of TRF are different, but I expect that the 'average Brit' would have difficulty identifying the Duchess of Gloucester or even Princess Alexandra; but I would not mind betting that he could easily identify Princess Michael!!

After her marriage, Princess Michael was always very prominent about giving interviews to the various mass-market magazines [known in the trade as the 'knit your own royal family magazines' because they used to feature bland royal family stories and knitting patterns etc] - Woman, Women's Own, Woman's Realm and Woman's Weekly. [This was before 'Hello' came on the scene - there were no 'celebrity' magazines in the 1970's and early 1980's and indeed there was apparently no appetite for such a publication - a Magazine specifially devoted to the subject and called Celebrity appeared and then, after a few issues, folded!!] Royal 'human interest' stories appeared mostly in the Daily Mail, and Daily Expresss [which were not tabloid in the 1970's] and the tabloid Sun and the Mirror.] It was unheard of for the other members of the BRF to give personal interviews to such magazines. Princess Michael's version of the events of her childhood was always the same:at the end of the Second World War, Father, Mother, Son and Daughter, with their few possessions piled into a handcart, fled Germany in order to start a 'new life' because 'there was no future for nobility in post-war Germany'. Articles such as these mostly did not feature very highly 'on the radar' because they appeared in the downmarket - for want of a better word - section of the media. But even then, word occasionally got out and sometimes various German Noble and Princely families used to question Princess Michael's version of events: they were noble/princely etc yet had managed to remain in post war Germany etc

Little by little, an alternative set of stories began circulating in London. These, to put it bluntly, cast a generally unfavourable light on Princess Michael. The most damning of these was that her family had a Nazi past, and that what they were really fleeing 'was this damning Nazi past catching up with them'. There was an even more unpleasant story circulating to the effect that the 'split' of Princess Michael's parents was in fact due to the fact that her father had in fact bigamously '''married''' her mother [i.e. no marriage at all!!!]. The general line on this was that the Catholic Church was sympathetic to the devout mother of Princess Michael, and later were to help by waiving the fees to the expensive private convent that she attended [mentioned above].

It is difficult to know how accurate these stories are. But there is some fairly interesting 'corroborative' evidence. Some years ago, at a number of 'Society' dinner parties held in London, a terribly unpleasant poem about Princess Michael used to be peformed towards the end of the meal as a form of 'entertainment'. It contained allegations of a Nazi past, and allegations about the marriage of her parents and family as well as various other unkindnesses. This did not make the newspapers at that stage and therefore its existence remained entirely unknown to the general public until an absolutely explosive case hit the headlines, with Princess Michael taking legal action about the poem and its various 'untruths'. Thus the existence of the poem and its allegations became very well documented. The newspapers reportedly gleefully that even Princess Margaret had been present at some of these dinner parties when the poem had been performed, and that she had 'laughed uproariously' at its contents.

Unfortunately, not too long afterwards, historian Philip Hall researched Princess Michael's background and discovered that her father had indeed been both a strong supporter of the Nazi regime and even a member of the hated SS, although this has also been described as a Honorary Role. Princess Michael's father had eventually been (apparently) at least partially cleared, but Hall, who was a noted historian, cast doubt on the 'honorary' nature of Von Reibnitz's position. The second event was the publication of two biographies about Princess Michael. Both contained a lot of what can be best described as 'tittle tattle' - unpleasant but not earth shattering - that Princess Michael had exaggerated her family's importance, that her lovely blonde hair was really brunette etc and gave details of Prince Michael's other girlfriends etc. However, one of the biographies repeated the explosive revelation about the bigamous marriage of her parents. The Kents were reputedly furious about the publication of both books; in the end, legal action was contemplated but only in respect of the biography by Barry Everingham, but NO action was contemplated against the biography that made the explosive revelation about the bigamous marriage - which was surely far the worst of the two books. From memory, the legal action against the Everingham book was eventually successful to the extent that copies of the book had to be withdrawn on the basis that it contained 'inaccuracies'. The implication therefore has always been that there was nothing that could be done legally about the other biography.

Tom Troubridge has always been very dignified about not commenting on his marriage to Princess Michael. Other people have not been so dignified and have spoken out to the effect that he was used as a 'stepping stone' by Marie Christine to secure access to Prince Michael.

It can be truthfully said that Princess Michael has always been somewhat controversial. Rumours persist that The Royal Family 'loathe' her, with the Queen allegedly calling her 'Our Val' [short for Valkyrie] and the rest of the BRF allegedly calling her 'BLT' [for 'billiard table legs', as apparently her legs are not Princess Michael's best feature]. How true these rumours are I do not know and have no way of knowing. Certainly the Royal Family have never spoken publically about the subject. Princess Michael herself was aware of the rumours about her [alleged] nicknames, and once told a magazine that they were completely untrue, as the Queen calls her 'MC' for Marie Christine.

Princess Michael is a controversial member of the BRF and I have tried to set out what I know as neutrally as possible. I would therefore welcome members' views on the subject.

Alex
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  #127  
Old 08-27-2011, 07:46 AM
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^^ I don't know how to thank you for this excellent post, Alex!! Two things that quite shocked me:

1. No real History of Art degree
2. Her parents' bigamous marriage



Can't stop wondering if MC's marriage to Prince Michael would ever take place were Princess Marina alive. BTW, does anyone think Prince Michael might not have known these 'details' when he decided to marry her?!


Once again, thank you for taking up the time to share all that with us! Much appreciated!
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  #128  
Old 08-27-2011, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by NoorMeansLight View Post
2. Her parents' bigamous marriage
Never heard before,explain please why the marriage of her parents was bigamous.
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  #129  
Old 08-27-2011, 08:04 AM
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Bigamous means her father was already married to a woman when he married MC's mother, thus the marriage wasn't valid. I can't explain it any further, Alex told us he knows it for a fact, not I. Perhaps he could elaborate a bit if he wants to.

BTW, looking forward to what Blackadder has to say.
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  #130  
Old 08-27-2011, 01:32 PM
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The bigamy was covered in Peter Lane's biography of MC.
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  #131  
Old 08-28-2011, 06:37 AM
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Bigamous means her father was already married to a woman when he married MC's mother, thus the marriage wasn't valid. I can't explain it any further, Alex told us he knows it for a fact, not I. Perhaps he could elaborate a bit if he wants to.

BTW, looking forward to what Blackadder has to say.

Thank you NGalitzine for your obsevations. I have never read Peter Lane's Biography, but it appears then that the bigamous marriage must be quite well known.

Noor, as I understand it, Baron Gunther Von Reibnitz was already married when he purported to go through a 'wedding ceremony' with Marie-Christine's mother Countess Maria Szapár. I have put the words 'wedding ceremony' in quotation marks, because of course IF you are still married, then you cannot of course 'marry' someone else until you get a divorce!

Baron Von Reibnitz's [legal] marriage had produced Marie-Christine's half sister Margherita.

As I understand it, Marie-Christine's mother was totally unaware that Von Reibnitz was already married.

The story that I have been told is that when Marie-Christine's mother discovered the truth [which must have been when Marie-Christine was quite young] she, as a devout Roman Catholic was quite devastated. Apart from the fact that legally, her ''marriage'' to Baron Von Reibnitz was not lawfully recognised, the union had a deep implication on her religion - she was therefore technically 'living in sin with the husband of another'.

I understand - although I have no formal proof of this whatsover - that the Countess's priest was sympathetic to the plight of the Countess, but told her that she must immediately part from Baron Von Reibnitz, which it seems that she did. There is often talk of a 'divorce' between Marie-Christine's parents, but since they were not lawfully married, a formal divorce was actually unecessary [i.e. because there was no legal union to disolve] and therefore may not have even been obtained. It could instead have been a decree of nullity [i.e. recognising that the 'marriage' of MC's parents was in fact void]. Legally however, there is no need for a decree of nullity, but it can be useful in establishing the position. Therefore it is entirely possible that MC's parents did not divorce. Slighty off-topic, but this situation has also seen when the rock star Mick Jagger split from his 'wife' Jerry Hall. The couple had actually been through an invalid 'marriage ceremony' in the first place and therefore, legally, Jerry and Mick were never husband and wife, and although Jerry talks about 'her divorce', she really only has a decree of nullity. If you go for a decree of Nullity, apart from usefully documenting the position, it also allows that parties to the union to get legal sanction from the Court about financial provision and child custody and access issues etc.

Here is where it gets very interesting. Although apparently the Priest reassured Marie-Christine's mother that 'in the eyes of God' the Countess was 'blameless', and ditto Marie-Christine and her brother [which seems reasonable, as the sins of the father cannot really be fairly visited on the offspring!!] Legally it was a different matter: as Marie-Christine and her brother were not born in lawful wedlock, in the eyes of the law, they were 'bastards' [horrid word] and since they were illegitimate, they had NO right to use the titles of their father. So, in other words, as an illegitimate person, Marie Christine had no right to style herself 'Baroness Marie-Christine Von Reibnitz. [Ditto with regard to her brother's use of the style of 'Baron'] Unfair of course, but not that unusual - aristrocratic unions have produce illegitimate offspring down throughout the centuries and the British aristocracy and come to that the British Royal Family have not been immune to this!! Even in recent times: look at the complicated marital histories of the Earl of Harewood and even Princess Margaret's husband Lord Snowdon..........!

When, therefore, Princess Michael, normally very talkative at times, 'clams up' about certain aspects of her youth and early childhood and her time in growing up in Australia etc. it MAY because there are certain matters that she wants to keep well under wraps.

Please note that what I have said above is based entirely on what I have been told, as it is information that has been circulating quite freely in what passes as 'London society' ever since Princess Michael came on the scene. I have NOT of course seen any legal documentation to support the marriages / lack of 'divorces' etc. Indeed, as I said at the outset in my first post, I welcome the input of others and particularly BlackAdder who knows so much about the family.

Alex

PS - I am female: Alexandra!
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  #132  
Old 08-28-2011, 04:45 PM
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The Lane biography isnt quite clear on how the bigamy issue was cleared up. It says Countess Marianne went to the Cardinal who told her that in the eyes of the church her children were legitimate but that she must quit her husband. The Baron went off to Mozambique where he married 2 more times and the Countess went off with their children to Australia where she later remarried.
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  #133  
Old 08-28-2011, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by NGalitzine View Post
The Lane biography isnt quite clear on how the bigamy issue was cleared up. It says Countess Marianne went to the Cardinal who told her that in the eyes of the church her children were legitimate but that she must quit her husband. The Baron went off to Mozambique where he married 2 more times and the Countess went off with their children to Australia where she later remarried.
Thank you for your input again NGalitzine.

What you see actually clears everything up nicely I think: The part that I have highlighted in yout pody more or less exactly mirrors what I have said above - except you mention a 'Cardinal', whereas London society was only talking about a Priest!

Which leads me to the conclusion that legally the union of Princess Michael's parents was bigamous. And that means that any offspring of the union would be bigamous. And that would mean that PMK and her brother have no right to style themselves Baroness/Baron.

This bigamous issue is just another application of how what is essentially Roman Catholic canon law can only legislate on things from a religious point of view: we see this the whole time in Europe: for example, in a country [other than the UK, which has different rules] there very often has to be a Civil wedding [which is the only ceremony recognised by the law of the land] and a Religious Ceremony [which is recognised by the Church - which would regard a civil union alone as 'not lawful in the eyes of God]

As is the case of divorces: Catholics can apply for a religious anulment [which, as I umderstand it, allows you to marry again in a Catholic church] but a Divorce is necessary so far as the law of the land is concerned - a chuch anulment by itself is NOT sufficient.

And so it seems with the case of Princess Michael. The Countess could 'square things' so far as the religious aspect of her bigamist union with Baron von Reibnitz is concerned, but legally, the union remained bigamist and therefore so far as the law of the land was concerned, PMK's parents were never LAWFULLY married.

No wonder there are aspects about PMK's background that she prefers not to talk about. And whilst none of us can really know what the BRF thinks about Marie-Christine, they possibly feel that she is on shakey ground talking about her aristocratic/regal background [re her remark that she is the most royal person to marry into the British Royal Family for a long time] when really she was 'born the wrong side of the blanket' as English society tends to refer to such matters.

Thanks again for your help. And I am looking forward to blackadder's input.

Alex
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  #134  
Old 08-28-2011, 05:58 PM
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Thank you for your kind comments, Noor.

I do know that the background of ANY person who marries into the British Royal Family is very carefully checked. I would therefore assume that the skeletons in Princess Michael's closet would have come to light. The way I presumed that things panned out however is that the information turned up during the Security check on Marie Christine would have been passed to the Queen, who would then have made the decision about whether to allow the marriage to proceed or not.

Obviously I have NO idea as to how the Queen made her decision, but extrapolating, I would think that what happened was something like this: Her Majesty has ALWAYS been very fond of Prince Michael [we were to see this in the way that the Queen gave him the right to use a very nice appartment at Kensington Palace even though he was not - and never had been - a full working member of the British Royal Family]. I would therefore think that if the Nazi allegations turned up, the Queen probably would not have wanted to tell Prince Michael and upset him - don't forget that many Germans of a particular generation had had links with the Nazis - including members of Prince Philip's own family, come to that - weren't his sisters married to prominent Nazi sympathisers, which in fact led them to be unable to attend their brother's wedding to the Queen?

As for the bigamous allegation, if it was turned up by the Security check, I can imagine the Queen taking a fairly pragmatic view - Prince Michael was only a 'minor member' of the BRF - he was not required to perform any royal engagements, his career to date had been as an army officer and not as a 'peforming royal' and I expect the Queen thought that the newly married Kent couple would simply fade into the background.....[some hope where Marie-Christine was concerned..........!!] and thus nazi and bigamy suggestions would never register on the radar of the British people.......

I am too young to remember Princess Marina, but I understand that she was a true lady; whilst she is celebrated for her beauty and her exquisite dress sense [ there is even a shade of colour named after her - Marina blue, which is not spoken of so much in the UK now, but is very familar to ladies of my mother's generation] she was practical in a very kindly way too; my aunt once told me that Princess Marina, when hearing how the Lancashire cotton mills were suffering extreme financial hardship with lack of orders etc [Lancashire is in the north west of England (and in those days quite a poor region) and has a damp climate, which is excellent for spinning cotton] which was having a huge impact on its workforce as there was no other work available for them, promptly started to order dresses made from Cotton from her couturiers: this was a revolutionary step in those days, as no Royal or aristocatic lady would have considered mere cotton as a suitable dress fabric - luxury silk was the order of the day!! [Times and fashions have of course changed now: silk is very much more affordable and the wife of the second in line to the throne shops at chain stores!!]. As a result of the Princess's steps, the Lancashire cotton industry recived a tremendous boost, because of course if the lady regarded as one of the most stylish fashion leaders in the word - which Princess Marina was - thought cotton all right for her, a member of the British Royal Family, it really was acceptable for everyone. Had Marie-Christine appeared on the scene during Princess Marina's lifetime, my speculation - which is of course just that, speculation, is that she would have given MC a more thorough 'going-over' than the Security services did, as I feel that she would have been keen to establish that MC's intentions were honourable and how she viewed her role in the British Royal Family. Who's to know, but Princess Marina might have been concerned about Princess Michael's desire to take on engagements and try to fulfil a prominent royal role!!


Hope this is of interest,

Alex
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  #135  
Old 12-06-2011, 10:07 AM
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she certainly has made mistakes, but...
Yes,unlike some other family members who are saints

Just kidding...from the start she was doomed because she was German(Austrian),her father was revealed an SS member and because of proudly pointing out her royal and noble ancestry,which is in fact the grandest of all family members that had entered the family since Prince Philipp...
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Old 12-06-2011, 10:51 AM
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Yes,unlike some other family members who are saints

because of proudly pointing out her royal and noble ancestry,which is in fact the grandest of all family members that had entered the family since Prince Philipp...
A rather dubious claim given she is the product of a bigamous marriage. I suspect the Ogilvy and Spencer families might raise an eyebrow at that one. Princess Michaels lineage has a separate thread anyway.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:31 AM
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A rather dubious claim given she is the product of a bigamous marriage. I suspect the Ogilvy and Spencer families might raise an eyebrow at that one. Princess Michaels lineage has a separate thread anyway.

Which of course legally makes her illegitimate.....!!!

As always, you are spot-on in your assessment, NGalitzine.

We don't punish people for the sins of their parents [quite correctly] but it does not seem a very good idea to boast of distinguished ancestry when you are in fact the illegitimate daughter of an SS Officer. There is a proper thread to discuss Princess Michael's ancestry, as NGaltizine points out. I would just say here however that the use of her 'Baroness' title causes Austrian friends of mine to fall about laughing. Technically, she was never entitled to use it.


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It is always a pleasure for me to see Prince and Princess Michael representing the UK or undertaking engagements. They do it with flair, raffinnement and elegance that can be found in the old school aristocracy.
Pleae excuse me for mentioning this, but in fact Prince and Princess Michael of Kent seldom represent the Queen or other members of the British Royal Family in an official capacity. I should think that such official appearances number one a year, if that!
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Old 12-06-2011, 04:10 PM
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Which of course legally makes her illegitimate.....!!!

As always, you are spot-on in your assessment, NGalitzine.
I wouldn't be too sure that NGalitzine is "spot on". Where is your proof? Have you seen marriage certificates or divorce papers with your own eyes, yes?

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I would just say here however that the use of her 'Baroness' title causes Austrian friends of mine to fall about laughing.
Oh, he who laughs last...
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:26 PM
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^^^^^
Her parents bigamous marriage is discussed in the Princess Michael lineage thread. It is written about in her biographies and she has not taken legal action against the authors.
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Old 12-06-2011, 08:00 PM
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I would just say here however that the use of her 'Baroness' title causes Austrian friends of mine to fall about laughing. Technically, she was never entitled to use it.
I am sorry but now I have to put my 2 cents in being Austrian. Princess Michael is a member of the old Austrian "Sternkreuzorden" or in English "Order of the Starry Cross". Given the fact that you are not from Austria you probably don't know the rules for being given a membership in this order. It was the highest order for noble females first in the Holy Roman Empire later in the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy which means you had and you still have to prove your lineage back to your great-grandparents from your father's and your mother's side and even when being married from your husband's great-grandparents. Only a handful of selected females are today member's of the order and Princess Michael most definitely IS! The Grand Mistresses were during the monarchy always the Empresses or as it was the case after Empress Elizabeth's death the highest Archduchess. The current wife of the head of the Habsburg family Archduchess Francesca was NOT allowed to be a member of the order cause her lineage doesn't fulfill the required 16 noble ancestors. Remember Francesca's father was also a Baron, although he inherited the title from his grandfather. (Francesca's sister-in-law Archduchess Gabriele is now the Grand Mistresses after the death of her mother )
Princess Michael's lineage fulfills these requirements easily, what's more her lineage was heavily examined before she was accepted in the ORDER. So at least the Austrian - Hungarian and German aristocracy doesn't have a problem with Princess Michael and her parent's marriage. And believe me if I tell you that "heavily examined" means in fact "heavily examined" by genealogists. So even if some people here in Austria laugh about her title and doubt the legitimacy of her birth, the people that really count - the Austrian and German aristocracy certainly don't. You can read a little bit about the order in the English version of Wikipedia, although the German version is much more specific about the history and importance of the order including all his Grand Mistresses till today.
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