'Princess Pushy' married her first husband on this day in 1971

Who is Thomas Troubridge? And how come ‘Princess Pushy’ of Kent has just passed a surprising wedding anniversary?

  • Marie-Christine von Riebnitz was a divorcee when she married Prince Michael
  • Her first marriage was to a merchant banker – who remained discreet throughout
  • For all the latest Royal news, pictures and video click here 

Today, it is hard to think of a time when Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz was not Princess Michael of Kent.

She married Prince Michael, a cousin of the late Queen Elizabeth II, in 1978 and has been a public figure ever since, known both for her striking Germanic appearance as well as the ‘Princess Pushy’ moniker she attracted over time.

Yet Marie-Christine had been married once before – to the late Thomas Troubridge. 

And they exchanged vows for this short-lived partnership at Chelsea Old Church more than half a century ago in September 1971 – where ushers reported the couple had ‘a blazing row’ in the vestry.

They were divorced six years later after Marie-Christine became involved with Prince Michael.

Prince Michael of Kent and Baroness Marie-Christine von Riebnitz pose outside the British Embassy in Vienna after marrying in a civil ceremony at the City Hall in 1978

The late Thomas Troubridge was Princess Michael’s first husband. They tied the knot in 1971 but the marriage was short-lived

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent at Ascot this year

Marie-Christine, now 78, is said to have met the Queen’s first cousin not long after her first wedding, while staying at Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire, home of Troubridge’s old school friend Prince William of Gloucester.

The pair grew close while her marriage began to disintegrate when Troubridge was posted to Bahrain.

She said: ‘For a long time we [she and Michael] cried on each other’s shoulders. I saw him, for a year, simply as a friend.

‘Now I’m glad we had that time because friendship is something you never lose.’ 

For nearly 30 years he maintained a discreet and dignified silence over his tumultuous marriage to Princess Michael of Kent.

But whatever secrets Old Etonian banker Thomas Troubridge might have kept hidden about his six-year union to the controversial Princess have now gone with him to his grave.

For Troubridge died in 2015 aged 75. He had been enjoying a shooting weekend with friends in Dorset where he suffered a heart attack.

After her divorce, Marie-Christine obtained an annulment in the hope that the Pope would allow her to marry Prince Michael in a Roman Catholic ceremony. When this was initially refused, the couple wed in Vienna Town Hall in 1978.

But the Pope eventually did annul the marriage, allowing  them to have a Roman Catholic ceremony in 1983 at Archbishop’s House near Westminster Cathedral.

Speaking to the Daily Mail the month before her marriage to Prince Michael, Marie-Christine described their first meeting, saying: ‘I thought Prince Michael was the funniest man I had ever met. We just kept talking and laughing together.’


Who is Princess Michael of Kent? And what did the 6ft ‘Austrian’ baroness say that was so critical of Princess Diana?

The prince recalled his first encounter with the 6ft, blonde baroness, saying: ‘I was very struck by this tall Austrian lady. I was very impressed.

‘I remember we had a long talk about history of art, sitting in a hut eating sausages.’

Marie-Christine’s first marriage began to disintegrate when Troubridge was posted to Bahrain; she and Prince Michael grew close.

She said: ‘For a long time we cried on each other’s shoulders. I saw him, for a year, simply as a friend.

‘Now I’m glad we had that time because friendship is something you never lose.’

The couple faced a series of hurdles in their attempt to wed, with Marie-Christine describing the road to marriage as ‘a very long and a very, very tortuous one.’

According to the 1701 Act of Settlement, a member of the Royal Family was unable to marry a Roman Catholic while the Church of England barred the marriage of divorced persons in church.

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent together at Ascot in the 1980s. They married twice: first in a civil ceremony in Vienna in 1978, then in a Catholic ceremony in 1983 after Marie-Christine’s first marriage was annulled

A scene from the civil wedding in Vienna. The Duke of Kent, Prince Michael’s brother is far left, talking to their sister Princess Alexandra. Prince and Princess Michael are centre. Then left to right: Angus Ogilvy, Princess Anne, Lady Helen Windsor and Lord Mountbatten 

Prince Michael and Marie-Christine pictured after the announcement of their engagement

Princess Michael’s wedding ring is admired following the civil ceremony in 1978

He later retrieved his rights of succession thanks to the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 (which removed both the prohibition on Catholics and the presumption in favour of male heirs).

After the breakdown of his marriage, Troubridge worked as President of British merchant bank Kleinwort Benson in New York, where he chose to remain for a number of years in order to avoid his ex’s social circle.

He subsequently married an Austrian, Petronella von Woyrsch, in 1981.

While the Princess became famous for her haughty, foot-in-mouth moments — earning the soubriquet Princess Pushy — Troubridge remained a by-word for old school discretion, having chosen never to speak publicly about their time together.


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