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Thomas Kingston: the remarkable life of the 'relentlessly optimistic' royal found dead at 45

Thomas Kingston: the remarkable life of the 'relentlessly optimistic' royal found dead at 45

The royal family is awash with speculation this week as the combined interest in the Princess of Wales’ health, Prince William’s absence from his godfather’s memorial, King Charles’ cancer and the death of Thomas Kingston overwhelms the Palace.

Kingston’s death has been described as “shocking” and “unexpected” by his own family and royal commentators alike. The 45-year-old was found dead at his parents’ £3 million Gloucestershire home on Sunday evening. Katy Skerrett, the senior coroner for Gloucestershire, said Kingston had lunch with his parents before the couple went on a walk, and Kingston was not present upon their return. His body was discovered by his father in an outbuilding “with a catastrophic head injury.” A gun was also found at the scene.

Sources close to the couple have shared that the couple were not known to have any relationship or financial difficulties. One close friend told The Telegraph: “You do wonder how something like this happens. He was so fit and so mentally stable. He wasn’t a depressed individual.” Another friend added: “He’s one of those guys who can be quite enigmatic and doesn’t tell you what he is thinking.”

To many, Kingston would not have been immediately obvious as a key player in the royal family. He married Lady Gabriella Windsor, the 42-year-old non-working royal 56th in line to the throne, and has stayed relatively removed from frontline royal life.

Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston on their wedding day (Getty Images)
Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston on their wedding day (Getty Images)

But there is much more to Kingston than is widely known: the University of Bristol graduate had links to the royal family long before Lady Gabriella, having allegedly dated Pippa Middleton around the time of Kate and William’s wedding in 2011, as well as one of Prince William’s rumoured ex-girlfriends. And while he’s a financier by trade, Kingston also spent a period of time working in hostage negotiation and conflict resolution in Iraq during the war.

Here’s everything we know about the royal’s storied past.

Kingston moved in royal circles from an early age

Thomas Kingston and Pippa Middleton in 2013 (Getty Images)
Thomas Kingston and Pippa Middleton in 2013 (Getty Images)

As with most people who come to marry royals, Kingston was well-acquainted with friends-of-friends of the family long before he actually married into The Firm. Born in Evesham, Worcestershire to William Martin Kingston and Jill Mary Kingston (née Bache), he wasn’t exactly British nobility. Bache is the granddaughter of Sir William Joseph Pearman-Smith of Park Hall, the former Mayor of Walsall, and Kingston is a “self made man” who was educated at a secondary-modern state school, before going on to become a successful barrister specialising in planning law. Kingston too was state educated, and his family is thought to be descendant from Cheshire butchers and farmers.

But it was in Gloucestershire where Kingston would find himself in the outer circle of the royals. At one point, he met fellow Bristol University graduate Natalie Hicks-Lobbecke and the pair are rumoured to have dated for a period of time. As it happens, Hicks-Lobbecke was also part of the Gloucestershire-based ‘Beaufort Polo Club set’ along with Prince William and Harry. She and William sparked dating rumours around July 2000, when Hicks-Lobbecke and the young Prince were photographed laughing with each other at a polo match, though both denied the relationship rumours at the time.

Then came Kingston’s second brush with near-royal romance in 2011, when he was said to be dating Pippa Middleton right around the time of Kate and William’s royal wedding. Far from the standard post-split animosity, he and Pippa have remained close friends. Both parties attended each others’ weddings — Kingston was at Middleton’s nuptials to James Matthews in 2017, and Middleton was in attendance at Kingston’s royal wedding to Lady Gabriella in 2019 — and have been photographed enjoying each others’ company many times over the years.

Hostage negotiator turned financier who ‘survived a suicide bombing’

 (Lady Gabriella Kingston/Buckingham Palace)
(Lady Gabriella Kingston/Buckingham Palace)

Kingston left Bristol University with a degree in economic history, which he put to good use in his some 17 years of work as a chartered financial analyst, equity analyst and director of the capital firms. However, he took an interesting segue after graduation, where he worked within the diplomatic missions unit of the Foreign Office in Iraq.

In this role, Kingston was based in Baghdad, and gained experience in hostage negotiation and conflict resolution. According to The Times, he utilised his “relentless optimism” to help negotiate the release of hostages and adjudicate disputes between the Iraq’s warring ethnic, religious, and tribal leaders.

In 2004, he narrowly escaped a brush with death when a a suicide-bombing claimed the lives of 22 people at the only Anglican church in Iraq. Reverend Canon Andrew White, who was known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” thanks to his ten years presiding over the Anglican church in Iraq and also survived the bombing, said previously that Kingston was an “an exceptional young man” who “makes things happen.” Kingston’s pivot to this line of work makes more sense to those that knew him well, who described him as a “very, very, very” committed Christian. At uni, he was even known as “Christian Tom.”

“Tom is one of the most remarkable people I have ever worked with and I would have him back at my side tomorrow, if he would come,” Canon Andrew said of Kingston while he was still alive. “Tom has a fierce determination to make things succeed and great insight into what makes humans tick, both good and bad. He uses those to see beyond the impossible and get through to the other side.”

In light of his tragic death, Canon Andrew told The Telegraph: “We survived several suicide bomb attacks [...] We were regularly caught up in IED [improvised explosive device] attacks. Cars would blow up in front of us and we would just move on. We were always together and had 35 armed guards at all times,” recalled Canon White.

“The thing about Tom was he was never scared. Whatever I asked him to do he would do it with a big smile on his face in the middle of a war zone.”

Following on from his time at the Foreign Office, Kingston joined the Iraqi Institute of Peace as a project officer from 2003 to 2006. The Times reports that Kingston “developed a reputation as a talented young diplomat and a devout Christian” during his time there, and worked tirelessly to help Iraqi Christians rebuild their lives in the wake of Sadam Hussein’s reign of terror.

Kingston then veered back into the calmer world of finance, first working as an equity analyst for Schroders, the global asset management firm, then as the managing director of Voltan Capital Management until 2017. Kingston later became a managing director at Devonport Capital, a financial firm founded by former City lawyer Paul Bailey, who had previously run a “boutique investment firm” in Iraq. The business, for which Kingston was a co-owner at the time of his death, proved successful and was not known to be in any monetary trouble.

His entry into the royal family

Kingston’s widow, Lady Gabriella, is the daughter of Queen Elizabeth’s first cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, and his wife Princess Michael of Kent. While this makes them relatively minor royals, Prince Michael’s first cousin-status also provided an indelible link to Queen Elizabeth, and so the Michaels were kept in the public eye — even when they wish they weren’t.

Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

Known as “Princess Pushy”, Princess Michael has suffered her fair share of gaffes during her years in the royal family, including the infamous “racist” brooch incident. This occurred when Princess Michael met Meghan Markle for brunch, all the while outfitted with a “blackamoor” brooch that features the bust of a human with black skin. Princess Michael apologised, with a spokesperson saying she was “very sorry and distressed that it has caused offence".And Lady Gabriella was not devoid of scandal, either. In 2018, the year before Kingston wed into the family, Lady Gabriella’s ex-boyfriend, Aatish Taseer, penned a bombshell article for Vanity Fair that, among other things, claimed they had taken MDMA in royal residences and swam naked in the Queen’s pool in Buckingham Palace. The article also alleged further racially-insensitive actions from Princess Michael, worsening her public profile. He referred to an article published in the New York Post with the headline ‘Royal Bigot’. The story claimed that Princess Michael had told some noisy customers (and people of colour) at Da Silvano, an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village, to go back to the colonies. She denied it, saying: “I would never have said that.”

Michael and Carole Middleton, James Matthews, Pippa Middleton and James Middleton arrive at Thomas Kingston and Lady Gabriella's wedding (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Michael and Carole Middleton, James Matthews, Pippa Middleton and James Middleton arrive at Thomas Kingston and Lady Gabriella's wedding (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

But Kingston didn’t care. He was thrust into public life in 2019 when the news of his proposal to Lady Gabriella, which took place on the Isle of Sark, in the Channel Islands, where his family has a holiday home, made the news in 2018. The pair had already been an item since 2015, having been introduced by mutual friends.

He wed Lady Gabriella in a ceremony at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle in May 2019, and the pair looked a picture of wedded bliss. The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Harry were all in attendance, despite Harry becoming a father to Prince Archie just weeks beforehand. Also in attendance were Pippa Middleton, Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, Lady Frederick Windsor (aka Sophie Winkleman, Claudia Winkleman’s sister). The only notable absence was Prince William, who was busy with his role as President of the Football Association, presenting the trophy at the FA cup final. Post-nuptial celebrations were held in Frogmore Cottage, the same location as Harry and Meghan’s wedding reception.

Lady Gabriella and Thomas Kingston at an event in September 2023 (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Lady Gabriella and Thomas Kingston at an event in September 2023 (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

In the years since their marriage, the Kingstons have appeared happy and well at numerous public functions. Their last public appearance was just earlier this month, at a a celebration of Shakespeare’s work at the Grosvenor House Park Lane Hotel in London. Close friends of the couple told the MailOnline they seemed perfectly happy. "They seemed happy and positive as ever,” the close friend said. "Ella was particularly chatty." Another friend said: "It's utterly shocking. None of us saw it coming. I cannot understand it."

‘One of the last true English gentleman’ dies in the countryside

The discovery of Kingston’s body at his parent’s Gloucestershire home sent shockwaves around his family and the wider community. The Telegraph reports that Lady Gabriella’s brother, Lord Frederick Windsor, is understood to have informed Kingston’s closest friends of his death, including his three best men.

One close acquaintance told the newspaper: “We are so upset about the news, everybody loved him. He was kind, charming and thoroughly decent and one of the last true English gentlemen. It is beyond tragic and so hard to get one’s head around.”

The local sub post-master added: “We are all so sad to hear the terrible news. They are a lovely, gentle family who do a lot for the village and the church. They are a big part of the local community [...] Thomas popped into the shop a lot, he would come by every so often. I last saw him a few months ago. He was a very gentle soul, just like his father. Everyone is in shock, it’s really sad and very fresh.”