Thomas Kingston, husband of Lady Gabriella Windsor, died with gun found near body, inquest hears

Gabriella and Thomas left the church arm in arm, their smiles radiating affection and warmth — the bride in a classy Italian couture gown that hugged her slim figure and the handsome groom unleashing that devastating grin that made him a ‘debs delight’ on the social circuit.

As they stood on the steps of St George’s Chapel, acknowledging a crowd of cheering well-wishers and on the threshold of a life together, Lady Gabriella Windsor and her new husband Thomas Kingston seemed blissfully happy.

She was very pretty and he looked proud,’ one guest remembers. ‘They had that steady gaze of supreme contentment. My wife whispered to me: “This is a couple who will never be parted.”’

No one could imagine that 12 weeks short of their fifth wedding anniversary, Tom would take a family shotgun and remove himself forever from her side.

Yesterday, an inquest heard how the 45-year-old son-in-law of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent was found dead next to the gun with a catastrophic head wound in an outbuilding in the grounds of his parents’ £3million mansion in Kemble, Gloucestershire.

Details of the final hours that lead up to this devastating tragedy last Sunday were sketchy and almost workaday. He’d had lunch with his parents, Martin and Jill, at the family home, a 15-minute drive from King Charles’s rural retreat Highgrove House.

Following the lunch, Tom’s lawyer father had taken the family dogs out for a walk. When he returned to the house, where the couple have lived since 1996, his son was no longer there.

Thirty minutes or so went by and his mother went out to look for him. Soon after that, her husband, unable to raise a reply, forced open the locked door of an outbuilding.

Inside, he found their son with a fatal injury.

No other parties were believed to be involved. Gloucestershire Police previously said officers were called to the scene by an ambulance crew just before 6.30pm. According to a post mortem, cause of death was confirmed to be a traumatic wound to the head.

Opening the inquest, which lasted barely five minutes, Katy Skerrett, the senior Gloucester coroner, confined her remarks to the briefest outline of what occurred. ‘Mr Kingston’, she said, ‘was visiting his parents’ home in the Cotswolds. His father went out to walk the dogs.

On his return, Mr Kingston was not in the house. His father forced entry on a locked outbuilding when no reply could be gained. He found Mr Kingston deceased with a catastrophic head injury. A gun was present at the scene. Emergency services were called. Police are satisfied the death is not suspicious.’

Just what drove this apparently happy man in the prime of life with an adoring wife to an act of desperation is now likely to be the subject of intense inquiries.

Outwardly Tom Kingston seemed to have it all. Marriage to one of the ‘nicest’ members of the Royal Family, a wide circle of friends and a thriving financial investment business. He was a man for whom a life of glittering promise from childhood was marked by easy-going cheerfulness and reassuring convention. And someone, according to acquaintances, who sought nothing more than comfortable domestic fulfilment.

Although they had no children, married life clearly agreed with him. He had navigated the goldfish bowl existence that permeates all royal marriages, however distant from the throne. And he had done so with aplomb.

Lady Gabriella — Ella to her family and friends — is not close in the line of succession to the Crown but as the daughter of the colourful Princess Michael she had often found herself at the centre of unwanted attention. To her great credit she has always dealt with it with an easy smile.

The couple did not live extravagant lives or find themselves the target of the paparazzi.

In many ways their unfussy approach — home is a modest flat in fashionable Notting Hill which they had recently put on the market pending a move somewhere larger — would serve as a valuable life lesson for some of Ella’s royal cousins.

It earned them a place at the royal top table — guests of the King and Queen at their Ascot house party last summer and countless other A-list gatherings.

Indeed it was significant that the King interrupted his cancer  treatment not only to pay moving tribute following Tom’s death but to instruct Buckingham Palace staff to provide support not just for Prince and Princess Michael but also for the stricken Kingston family. This was unusual because the Kents are not working royals. But it also reflects on Ella and Tom’s popularity.

His death has stunned a Royal Family already reeling from a host of domestic issues including Charles and the Princess of Whales’s illnesses, stretching their ability to carry out their normal functions.

Ella loved being married and being ‘Mrs Kingston’, though technically she still has her title and is, officially, Lady Gabriella Kingston.

At weekends, the couple could often be seen at Notting Hill’s farmers’ market and browsing hand in hand in the trendy shops lining Holland Park Avenue.

When Tom and Ella became engaged, old friends of the Bristol University economics graduate would josh that he was punching above his weight marrying into Princess Pushy’s elevated circle.

He would replay with equal good humour that she was the lucky one joining the Kingston clan.

Both had a ‘past’ of course, but nothing too controversial — though Ella did find herself in the spotlight when an ex-boyfriend wrote an indiscreet article about her mother, the royals and racism.

The truth is that Tom, who spent several dangerous years working in hostage negotiation in war-torn Iraq, had had a string of pretty girlfriends before meeting Ella. He was one of those good- looking figures about whom friends liked to tell tall tales of amorous adventures. 

But they weren’t all tall. Women were drawn to his languid confidence, while men envied his effortless success with the opposite sex.

Indeed, he has attracted some of the prettiest young women around the Prince William and Prince Harry sets.

Among them were Pippa Middleton, the Princess of Wales’s sister, now married to hedge fund executive James Matthews — although he denied they were romantically linked — financier Louisa Strutt and Natalie Hicks-Lobbecke, an old flame of Prince William whom Tom dated while working in Iraq.

He and ‘Nats’ met when both were at Bristol University.

As one close friend said admiringly: ‘Tom’s great achievement is that none of his old girlfriends have anything but nice things to say about him. Even when it’s all over, they still like him.’

At the time of his wedding, one of Tom’s friends told me: ‘He’s just the kind of guy you want to introduce to your mother.’

But there was another side to the Gatsby-esque figure who was forever popping up at society weddings on the arm of a pretty girl. He had a deep and abiding Christian faith. And it was this spiritual element that armed him during the three years he spent in Baghdad at the height of that country’s post-war violence.

He worked there alongside Canon Andrew White, the so-called Anglican vicar of Baghdad who described him as a ‘fearless’ and ‘exceptional young man’, and whom Tom fondly called ‘Abouna’, Arabic for priest.

The two had numerous brushes with death, most notably when a suicide bomber struck at White’s church in 2004, taking 22 lives.

‘Tom was with me in Iraq in the most dangerous days of the war,’ White said this week.

‘One of the first things I taught him was: “Remember we don’t take care, we take risks. The next thing you need to remember is that in our peace-making, we don’t make peace with the good guys, but only the really bad guys.” Tom learned that very quickly and that is what he did with me.

‘One day he returned from seeing a group of ayatollahs I had sent him to see and said: “It’s no good, Abouna, they were all good guys.” He had certainly got the message about only being able to make peace with the bad guys.’

Memories of those days came flooding back to Canon White when he was among the guests at Tom and Ella’s wedding. There, he was able to talk to his protege’s new father-in-law Prince Michael about a mission the two had accomplished for him in Israel long before Ella was a glint in Tom’s eye.

The Prince, whose mother’s family were from Greece, had a relative buried near the Mount of Olives but did not know where. The priest and his assistant not only found the unkempt grave, but tidied it.

Back in Britain, meanwhile, Tom entered the world of finance, firstly with Schroders, the blue-blood asset management company, later joining Devonport Capital as one of two directors in 2017. Devonport offers short-term loans to companies operating in the developing world and has offices in St James’s that are a stone’s throw from Clearance House.

His wedding day at St George’s Chapel was a major social occasion. The Queen and Prince Philip led the guests.

It was almost a year to the day since Prince Harry had married Meghan Markle in the same venue but that and the sunshine were all they had in common.

‘She was such a sweet bride, fussing over the bridesmaids and pageboys and he was so attentive too,’ recalls a guest. ‘Of course it helped that they both had dazzling smiles on their faces.’

From the chapel, buses took the guests up to Frogmore House for the reception, where the couple posed for their wedding pictures.

In the bleak months ahead, they will forever remain a memory of that happiest of days.

Culled from daily mail