Skip to main content

Princess Marina Duchess of Kent, Britain’s Last Foreign Princess

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent by Peter North. Image: Wikimedia

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, was hailed during her lifetime for her chic fashion sense and dedication to duty. Born in Athens, Greece, on December 13, 1906, she was the youngest child of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, the third son of  King George I of Greece, and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, a granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia.  The Greek Royal Family was neither wealthy nor pretentious; and though as a child, Princess Marina had glimpses of the splendor of the Imperial Russian Court, she and her sisters were, nevertheless, raised in a simple yet strict environment.

Prince and Princess Nicholas (as what Grand Duchess Helen was known after marrying the Greek prince) wanted their daughters to be disciplined so they subscribed to the service of an old-school English governess. English was the language of the family but Princess Marina spoke it in a rather attractive foreign accent. The sisters also grew up speaking other languages, especially Greek. Princess Marina remained a devout Orthodox all her life; her intense love for her native country survived all political upheavals.

In 1917, Nicholas and his family had to flee Greece and they settled in Switzerland where they stayed for four years. They returned to Greece in 1921, only to leave again. In 1924, they set up a household in Paris where Marina attended finishing school. During their exile, the Nicholases were in dire straits. While Prince Nicholas devoted much of his time painting, a rather unprofitable pastime, Princess Nicholas spent whatever money she got in helping Russian emigres. For her part, Princess Marina mastered painting while helping her mother with her philanthropic causes. She also learned dressmaking, one reason why she emerged as one of the best-dressed royals during her lifetime.

She met her future husband, Prince George, Duke of Kent, the fifth child of King George V and Queen Mary, in 1932 while on a visit in London. Their engagement was announced in August 1934 on November 29, they married at Westminster Abbey, London. An Orthodox service was later held in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace. Marina’s marriage to the Duke of Kent is considered as the last time that a foreign-born princess was married to a member of the British Royal Family. The sentimental public regarded Marina as a fairy tale princess, enchanted by her radiant beauty and obvious happiness.

Their marriage produced children: Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (born October 9, 1935); Princess Alexandra, The Hon. Lady Ogilvy (born December 25, 1936); and Prince Michael of Kent (July 4, 1942).

The Duke and Duchess of Kent emerged as a popular couple. Their good looks, varying interests, and excitement for life made them an instant hit among the British people. Their artistic inclinations enabled them to transform Coppins, the rather draughty Victorian house of George's aunt Victoria (who died in 1935) into a charming home. Their London residence in Belgrave Sqiare, meanwhile, attracted men and women of arts, stage, and politics during that time.

Less than a month after the birth of their third child, the Duke of Kent was killed on August 25, 1942, following a plane crash at Eagles Rock, near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland. He was on active service with the Royal Air Force. Royal biographer Hugo Vickers noted that the duchess was "the only war widow in Britain whose estate was forced to pay death duties".

The moment she became a member of the Royal Family, the duchess conscientiously worked hard for the Crown and for the people. The death of the duke never deterred her and she continued to become  one of the most hard-working members of the Royal Family. During the World War II, she trained as a nurse for three months under the pseudonym "Sister Kay," rendering service as a civil nurse reserve. For over two decades, she served as the president of the Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. She was also the President of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution from 1943 until her death and was awarded the RNLI's Gold Medal in 1967 to mark this contribution.

The end of the war meant an increase in her workload, many of them were carried out during important occassions. In 1952, she embarked on a tour of the Far East, commencing in Ceylon and proceeding to Malaya, Borneo, and Hong Kong. She also represented Queen Elizabeth II during the independence celebration of the Gold Coast (present day Ghana) in March 1957.

In June 1961, her eldest child, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, married Miss Katharine Worsley. Shortly before the wedding, she announced that she wished to be known as Her Royal Highness Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, instead of Her Royal Highness The Dowager Duchess of Kent, a change in traditional style, whicjh was granted by her niece, Queen Elizabeth II. Prior to her wedding to Prince George in 1934, Princess Marina was already a princess of the blood royal, being a Princess of Greece and Denmark. Following her elder son's wedding, she simply reverted to her own princely prefix.

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, died on August 27, 1968, at Kensington Palace in London due to brain tumor. The Times praised her for her "warm-hearted and generous nature." She was a very loyal friend and a delightful companion, "always full of interest and of humour, with natural dignity but no self-consciousness of her rank." The Telegraph, meanwhile, wrote that during her life, "her rarity went largely unperceived  because it was always unobtrusive."


“Princess Marina,” in Holloway, D. (editor) (1992). The Daily Telegraph The Sixties: A Chronicle of the Decade. London: Simon & Schuster.

“Marina Duchess of Kent” in Unwin, P. (editor) (2013). Newcomers' Lives: The Story of Immigrants as Told in Obituaries from The Times. London: Bloombury. 



    Professional trading signals delivered to your mobile phone daily.

    Follow our signals right now & gain up to 270% daily.

  2. There's shocking news in the sports betting world.

    It has been said that any bettor needs to look at this,

    Watch this or quit placing bets on sports...

    Sports Cash System - Robotic Sports Betting Software


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular posts from this blog

10 Interesting Facts About Princess Margaret of United Kingdom, Countess of Snowdon

Princess Margaret Rose was one of the most popular, albeit controversial, royals during her lifetime. She was a rather sad figure, a victim of love at an early age and a person who constantly sought affection and attention as she went on to looked for the real meaning of her life. Might as well want to learn about the colorful life of Queen Elizabeth II's younger sister? Here are 10 interesting facts about her.

1. Born on August 30, 1930, in Glamis, the family seat of her mother's family, Princess Margaret was the first member of the British Royal Family to be born in Scotland for over 300 years.

2. Her parents, the then Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) wanted to call her Anne, but her grandfather, King George V, vetoed, so they named her Margaret Rose, instead.

3. In 1936, the princess' relatively peaceful life was altered considerably when his uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry the woman he loved, the two-time American divorce…

King Edward VIII’s Financial Settlement: How Much Money Did He Get After The Abdication?

King Edward VIII leaped into financial uncertainty the moment he signed the Instrument of Abdication on December 10, 1936. That same day, Edward, now known as Duke of Windsor, entered into an agreement with his younger brother and successor, King George VI, that secured him £25,000 annually for the rest of his life. However, the King later renounced this agreement and instead offered him a smaller amount which would cease upon the King's death. The condition is that Edward should never step into British soil unless invited by government.

A Day in the Life of The Queen: How Queen Elizabeth II Spends Her Day

Queen Elizabeth II is a stickler for order, and so routine is a part of Her Majesty’s day-to-day life. She rises at around 8.30 am and would be greeted by a piper who plays at 9am on the terrace beneath her apartment at Buckingham Palace. When longtime attendant and confidante Margaret MacDonald was still in service, Don Coolican noted that  Bobo, as The Queen affectionately called MacDonald, would awaken her, “bringing in a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits handed over by the footman.” The Queen’s corgis are the first creatures to grace The Queen , who would also beg to be given biscuits, Coolican writes.