The heroine of this article is Princess Marina, the Duchess of Kent, whose years of life embraced most of the dramatic events of the 20th century. Born under the hot sky of Hellas, she found a new home among the fogs of London, and her name remained forever inscribed in the history of the British royal family.
Princess, born in Athens
On December 13, 1906, the successor to the Greek throne of Prince Nicholas, the son of King George I, governor of those years, and his wife, the representative of the Romanovs who reigned in Russia, the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna, visited the joy - they had a daughter, the future duchess of Kent Marina. She became the third child of this marked providential couple. In addition to her, two more daughters, Elizaveta and Olga, grew up in the family.
Born in Athens, the newborn princess was baptized in the Orthodox faith. Among the people present at the time of the holy mystery were two kings - her own grandfather George I and the British monarch Edward VII. Beside them, bowing respectfully, stood Prince of Denmark and Greek Andrew, Princess of Wales Maria, as well as the Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich, who had come from Russia and the Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna. Barely born, the child was surrounded by the glitter and bustle of court life.
Marina, Duchess of Kent: early years
Marina did not say her first words in Greek, but in English, the whole royal family communicated with each other . As once in Russia the high society spoke exclusively in French, so the Greek aristocrats preferred their native language to English. Accordingly, and the upbringing of the young princess was entrusted to a thin and stiff governess, discharged from London.
From an early age, the future duchess had a talent for drawing, and later to painting, noticed and skillfully developed by her father, deservedly reckoned in his circles, though not a professional but very gifted and skilful artist. His lessons helped the girl to learn how to feel and create the beautiful.
Escape from the rebellious Greece
The happy and serene childhood of the princess ended when she was barely nine years old. The fatal year of 1917 came, bringing with it the misfortunes not only of Russia, but also of her native Greece, whose habitual course of life was overturned by a coup d'état. Fleeing from the threatened danger, the family emigrated first to Switzerland, and then settled in France.
Here Prince Nicholas, Marina's father, for the first time in his life, faced the need to earn money himself, as there was not enough money to live, and he, as the head of the family, was fully responsible for the welfare of people close to him.
Some income brought their own paintings put up for sale, attracting buyers not only artistic merit, but standing on them autographs of a member of the royal family. However, these funds did not cover all the current expenses of the family, who are accustomed to not denying themselves in anything. As a result, Prince Nicholas was forced to make a living by private lessons in painting.
Princess and couturier
His family was in Paris that year when a flood of emigrants from Russia poured into the capital of France, and the prince and his wife tried to help the refugees settle in a new place. Marina and her sisters had to do all the housework, as there was no question of hiring a servant. Despite all the hardships, she fell in love with Paris, and when in 1921 the political situation allowed the family to return to Athens, she chose to stay in France.
The secular chronicle reported that the reason was her desire to continue her education, but people who knew the princess closely hinted that the young Parisian fashion designer Edward Moline, whom Marina had met during one of the fashion shows, played a role in this. However, no matter how far their mutual infatuation has gone, there could be no question of marriage: prudent princesses do not marry a couturier.
Marina, the Duchess of Kent: marriage
As for marriage, this issue - the most important in the life of any woman - has become more relevant every year. Finally, in March 1932, during her trip to London, Marina met her future husband. On one of the social receptions the girl was introduced to her distant relative, who was her second cousin, Prince George, who in two years became her husband.
On the eve of the wedding, the groom was awarded the title of Duke of Kent, the right to which after marriage was received and his young wife. The solemn ceremony was held on November 29, 1934 in Westminster Abbey, after which the newly-born Duchess of Kent Marina, happy and full of hope, went with her husband to the Greek chapel, where the ceremony was repeated in accordance with the Orthodox canon.
In those days, the leading British newspapers published reports on this important event. In addition to listing the high-ranking officials who came to the ceremony from all over Europe and excerpts from the speeches delivered by them, the publishers did not spare the place for a detailed description of the bride's gorgeous outfit, made according to the sketches of the famous Parisian couturier Edward Molina. But few knew that it was his wedding gift, sent to the bride in memory of their former love. However, my husband also liked the dress.
Short but bright family happiness
They were almost an ideal pair. Both were young and beautiful. Their marriage, contrary to the established tradition, was not the product of cold dynastic calculations, but was a happy end to the novel, which lasted for two years. From now on her full title sounded like this: Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent. Marina, whose photo of those years represented in the article, became a member of the British royal family.
However, the happiness that she found under the arches of the ancient abbey, was short-lived. Shortly after the birth of the youngest son (they had three children in all), the Duchess of Kent Marina became widowed: her husband Georg was tragically killed during a plane crash in August 1942 in northern Scotland.
Kay's Sister of Mercy
Having managed to cope with her grief and following the example of many ladies from high British society, she graduated from nurses' courses and throughout the years of the war, under the pseudonym of Sister Kay, worked in military hospitals in London. This largely helped her survive the loss.
The subsequent life of the Dowager Duchess
After the death of her husband Marina, the Duchess of Kent, whose further life was mainly focused on raising children, was in a rather constrained financial situation. The fact is that, according to British law, she was deprived of the so-called civilian list - budget funds coming in for the maintenance of members of the royal family, and her income was limited to a modest subsidy. This prompted Marina to put up for auction a significant part of her husband's property. The money helped her solve the most pressing financial problems.
However, in spite of all the misfortunes that had befallen her, the Duchess of Kent Marina continued to be a member of the royal dynasty and, in this capacity, fulfilled her secular duties. In particular, for more than twenty years, she remained the permanent president of a number of privileged clubs.
An interesting detail: the husband of the present Queen of England Elizabeth II - Duke of Edinburgh Philip Mountbatten - the Duchess of Marina has a cousin. In 1947, she not only attended his wedding, but also put her own handwritten signature under the marriage certificate of the young. At the same time, her son Michael was honored to become one of the wedding pages.
Subsequently, Marina, the Duchess of Kent, whose life was held in the circle of her deceased husband's family, visited many countries of the world as a representative of the English royal house. Among other trips in which she was entrusted with a diplomatic mission, it should be noted the visit to Ghana, timed to the day of independence by this small West African state. It is symbolic that fifty years later the son of Marina, Edward, the Duke of Kent, took part in celebrations on the occasion of the half-century anniversary of the republic.
Point set in Frogmore
Her Royal Highness Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, passed away on August 27, 1968, in Kensington Palace, located in the western part of London. The cause of her death was a brain tumor, which the best British doctors could not cope with. She found her last rest at the royal cemetery in Frogmore, where her husband was buried.
The funeral of the deceased duchess took place three days after his death in the chapel of St. George. On that day, to give the last debt to the deceased, the whole color of the European monarchy gathered. In addition to the British Queen Elizabeth II, as well as another Elizabeth Queen Mother, the ceremony was attended by the Greek monarch Constantine II with his wife, the Romanian Queen Mother Elena, and the former Italian king Umberto II. They saw off on their last journey not just a woman, but part of the history of the British and Greek royal dynasty. The article contains an image of her family coat of arms.