Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent
Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent was the wife of Prince George, Duke of Kent (the 4th son of King George V and Queen Mary). She was born Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, on December 13, 1906 in Athens. Her parents were Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark (a son of King George I of the Hellenes) and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna (a granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia), and she had two older sisters, Olga (1903) and Elizabeth (1904). Through her father, she was a first cousin of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.
Her christening took place shortly after birth, with the following godparents:
1913 brought the family’s idyllic life to an end. Marina’s grandfather, King George I, was assassinated. After several years of upheaval, the monarchy was overthrown in 1924, and Prince Nicholas and his family settled in Paris.
photo: by Bassano Ltd; 12 x 10 inch glass plate negative, 29 November 1934; NPG x95788;
© National Portrait Gallery, London
In August 1934, she became engaged to Prince George, Duke of Kent. The two were second-cousins, through their mutual descent from King Christian IX of Denmark. They married on November 29, 1934 at Westminster Abbey in London, followed by a Greek Orthodox ceremony in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace. Marina was now officialy styled HRH The Duchess of Kent. This would be the last marriage of a foreign princess into the British Royal Family. They settled into a home at No.3 Belgrave Square, in London, and Coppins, a country home in Buckinghamshire which Prince George inherited from his aunt, Princess Victoria. The couple had three children:
Sadly, just six weeks after the birth of their youngest child, Prince George was killed when his military plane crashed in Scotland on August 25, 1942. At the time, there were no financial provisions made for a widow of a Royal Duke. The Duke’s Civil List payments stopped upon his death, leaving Marina and her children with no income. Fortunately, her brother-in-law, King George VI, and her mother-in-law, Queen Mary, stepped in to help.
Marina threw herself into her royal duties and her support of the war efforts. She trained as a nurse, and joined the civil nurse reserve. She also supported numerous charities and military groups. From 1940 until her death, she served as Chief Commandant of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS). And from 1963 until her death, she served as the first Chancellor of the University of Kent at Canterbury. She also held several honorary military positions, including:
- Colonel-in-Chief, The Kent Regiment
- Colonel-in-Chief, The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment
- Colonel-in-Chief, The Dorset Regiment
- Colonel-in-Chief, The Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment
- Colonel-in-Chief, The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment
- Colonel-in-Chief, The Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
- Colonel-in-Chief, The Queen’s Regiment (Allied)
- Honorary Commandant, The Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service
In 1955, Marina and her children moved into Apartment No.1 at Kensington Palace. At the time, the former apartments of Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, were split into two apartments – No.1 and No.1A. She remained a very active, and highly popular, member of the Royal Family. She is perhaps best known for her 26 years serving as President of the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, a position previously held by her husband. In this role, she was seen each year handing out the trophies to the winners of Wimbledon. After her death, her son, The Duke of Kent, took on the role and continues to serve as President to this day.
Upon her son’s marriage in 1961, Marina’s official style became HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. Having been born a Princess in her own right, the Queen gave her permission to use that style, as opposed to being styled The Dowager Duchess.
In July 1968, Princess Marina spent several days in the hospital, where it was discovered that she was suffering from an inoperable brain tumor. Sadly, her condition diminished very quickly. At 11:40am, on August 27, 1968, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home at Kensington Palace. She was surrounded by her children, and her sister Olga.
Her funeral was held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. The previous day, her husband’s remains were removed from the Royal Vault at St George’s, and buried at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore. She was then laid to rest beside him. Ironically, she died almost 26 years to the day after her husband.
Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.