Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark

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Princess Marina
Duchess of Kent
Laszlo - Princess Marina of Greece.jpg
Portrait by Philip de László, 1934
Born(1906-12-13)13 December 1906
Athens, Kingdom of Greece
Died27 August 1968(1968-08-27) (aged 61)
Kensington Palace, London, England
Burial30 August 1968
(m. 1934; died 1942)
FatherPrince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark
MotherGrand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia
ReligionGreek Orthodox

Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark (Greek: Μαρίνα; 13 December [O.S. 30 November] 1906 – 27 August 1968), later Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent CI, GCVO, GBE, was a Greek princess by birth and a British princess by marriage. She was a daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, and a granddaughter of King George I and Queen Olga of Greece. Princess Marina married Prince George, Duke of Kent, fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary, in 1934. They had three children: Prince Edward, Princess Alexandra, and Prince Michael.

The Princess was widowed in 1942, when her husband was killed in a plane crash on active service. In later life she carried out many royal engagements, including the independence celebrations for Ghana and Botswana.

Early life[edit]

Princess Marina, right, with her sisters Princess Olga, left, and Princess Elizabeth, centre.

Princess Marina was born on 13 December 1906 in Athens, Greece, during the reign of her paternal grandfather, George I of Greece.[1] She was the third and youngest daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, and his wife Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia.[2] Her father was the third son of George I of Greece and Queen Olga,[3] while her mother was the only daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia. Her father was a grandson of Christian IX of Denmark, while her mother was a granddaughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia.[4]

She was baptised near the end of 1906, and her godparents were: George I of Greece (her paternal grandfather); Edward VII of the United Kingdom (her great-uncle by marriage); Mary, Princess of Wales; Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark (her paternal uncle); Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich of Russia (her maternal uncle); and Grand Duchess Victoria Fyodorovna of Russia (her maternal aunt).[citation needed] Princess Marina had two elder sisters, Princess Olga and Princess Elizabeth. Princess Olga married Prince Paul of Yugoslavia in 1923. After the assassination of his cousin, Alexander I of Yugoslavia, Paul served as Prince Regent of Yugoslavia from 1934 to 1941. Princess Elizabeth married Carl Theodor, Count of Toeerring-Jettenbach in 1934.[5] One of their paternal uncles was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the father of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (making Marina and her sisters Philip's first cousins).

Marina spent her early years in Greece, and lived with her parents and paternal grandparents at Tatoi Palace. Along with her sisters, she was raised to be devout and religious, which was encouraged by her grandmother, Queen Olga of Greece.[6] Marina's family travelled outside of Greece often, especially during the summer months. Her first recorded visit to Britain was in 1910 after the death of her godfather, Edward VII. She officially met her other godmother and future mother-in-law, Queen Mary, who treated Marina and her sisters like her own children.[7]

The Greek royal family was forced into exile when Marina was 11, following the overthrow of the Greek monarchy.[4] They later moved to Paris, while the Princess stayed with her extended family throughout Europe.

Marriage and children[edit]

Wedding ceremony[edit]

Princess Marina on her wedding day

In 1932, Princess Marina and Prince George (later the Duke of Kent), a second cousin through Christian IX of Denmark, met in London.[4] Their betrothal was announced in August 1934.[3] Prince George was created Duke of Kent on 9 October 1934.[8] Marina's engagement ring was made out of a "square-cut Kashmir sapphire set in platinum with a baton diamond on either side".[citation needed] On 29 November 1934, they married at Westminster Abbey, London.[9] The wedding was a grand affair, as it had been more than ten years since the last royal wedding with Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The wedding of Prince George and Princess Marina was the first royal wedding ceremony to be broadcast by wireless, and with the use of other technology, such as microphones—the control room was located underneath the Unknown Warrior's tomb of Westminster Abbey. The service was broadcast locally and abroad to other nations, and loudspeakers allowed spectators from outside the Abbey to hear the proceedings.[10] The wedding was followed by a Greek ceremony in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace, which was converted into an Orthodox chapel for the ceremony.[9] The wedding was the most recent occasion on which a foreign-born princess married into the British Royal Family.

The bride's gown was in white and silver silk brocade, designed by Edward Molyneux, and worked on by a team of seamstresses including, at Marina's request, Russian émigrées.[citation needed] The dress featured a "sheath silhouette, a draped cowl neckline, trumpet sleeves, and a wide train."[citation needed] A tiara, given to her as a wedding gift, secured her tulle veil.[citation needed]

Her eight bridesmaids were her first cousins, Greek princesses Irene, Eugenie and Katherine, her maternal first cousin Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia, her first cousin once removed Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, her husband's niece Princess Elizabeth of York, her husband's cousins the Lady Iris Mountbatten and Lady Mary Cambridge.[4][11]

The Royal School of Needlework made a quilt as a wedding gift for Princess Marina and the Duke of Kent.[12]

Married life[edit]

Portrait by Philip de László, 1934

The Duke and Duchess set up their first home at 3 Belgrave Square, close to Buckingham Palace.[13] She became a patroness of several organizations and charities, including the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, the Women's Hospital Fund, and the Central School of Speech and Drama. She would continue to support these charities and institutions for the rest of her life.[14] She became very close to her mother-in-law, Queen Mary, with whom she would usually spend time while her husband was off performing his own royal duties.[15]

The couple had three children:

The Duke of Kent was killed on 25 August 1942, in an aeroplane crash at Eagles Rock, near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland, while on active service with the Royal Air Force. The Duchess, according to royal biographer Hugo Vickers, was "the only war widow in Britain whose estate was forced to pay death duties".[16]

During World War II, Marina was trained as a nurse for three months under the pseudonym "Sister Kay" and joined the civil nurse reserve.[2]

Later life and death[edit]

The foundation stone of St Mark's, Bromley, laid by the Duchess

After her husband's death, the Duchess of Kent continued to be an active member of the British Royal Family, carrying out a wide range of royal and official engagements.[1] She was the president of the Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for 26 years.[2] 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.[17] One of her first cousins was Prince Philip (later the Duke of Edinburgh), who married her niece, the future Queen Elizabeth II, in 1947.

In 1947, Princess Marina visited Greece and Italy.[18][19] In June 1952 the Duchess laid the foundation stone of the new St Mark's Church in Bromley, London, which had been damaged in the war.[20]

In 1952, the Duchess also visited Sarawak (then a British Crown Colony), where she laid the foundation stone of the Cathedral of St. Thomas in Kuching. She also visited the Batu Lintang camp, a Japanese internment camp during World War II which had been converted to a teacher training college, and the town of Sibu, where she opened the outpatient department of the Lau Kheng Howe Hospital.[21]

In March 1957, when the Gold Coast achieved independence from Britain as Ghana, the Duchess of Kent was appointed to represent the Queen at the celebrations.[22] Fifty years later, at the 50th anniversary of Ghana's independence, it would be her son, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, who would be appointed by the Queen to represent her.[23]

Marina earned a place in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1960 together with the Princess of Monaco, Patricia Lopez-Willshaw and Merle Oberon.[24] In 1964, the Princess took an extensive tour of Australia and officially opened Gladesville Bridge in Sydney.[25]

In September 1966, when the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland became the new Republic of Botswana, the Princess was appointed again to represent the Queen at the celebrations.[26] The main public hospital in Gaborone, the new Botswana's capital, is named "Princess Marina Hospital".

She served as the first Chancellor of the University of Kent at Canterbury from 1963 until her death from a brain tumour at Kensington Palace at 11.40 am on 27 August 1968, aged 61.[27][1] Funeral service for the Princess was held at the St. George's Chapel on 30 August.[28] She was buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore.[29] Her funeral was the final royal ceremony attended by her brother-in-law, the former Edward VIII.[30]


Princess Marina gave her name to many facilities, including:

References in popular culture[edit]

Honours and arms[edit]

Commonwealth honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Honorary military appointments[edit]

The Duchess inspecting cadets of the WRNS officers' training course, 1941


Coat of Arms of Marina of Greece and Denmark, Duchess of Kent.svg Royal Monogram of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, Duchess of Kent.svg
Coat of arms of Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent Royal monogram of Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Marina won Britain's heart". Evening Times. 27 August 1968. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Marina, a tragic but well-loved Princess". The Sydney Morning Herald. London. 28 August 1968. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Prince George son of King, to be married". The Montreal Gazette. London. CP and AP. 28 August 1934. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "Princess Marina called luckiest girl in the world by relatives". The Milwaukee Journal. Athens. Associated Press. 23 November 1934. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  5. ^ Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh, ed. (1977). Burke's Royal Families of the World. Volume 1: Europe & Latin America. London: Burke's Peerage Ltd. p. 326. ISBN 0-85011-023-8. |volume= has extra text (help)
  6. ^ King, Stella. Princess Marina: Her Life and Times (pg. 37; Cox & Wyman Ltd, 1969)
  7. ^ King, pg. 39
  8. ^ "No. 34094". The London Gazette. 9 October 1934. p. 6365.
  9. ^ a b "King and Queen see rehearsals". The Sydney Morning Herald. 29 November 1934. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  10. ^ King, pg. 125
  11. ^ "The wedding of Prince George, Duke of Kent and Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent". National Portrait Gallery, London.
  12. ^ "Princess Marina's quilt". British Pathé. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  13. ^ King, pg. 136.
  14. ^ King, pg. 143
  15. ^ King, pg. 144
  16. ^ Hugo Vickers, Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, Hutchinson, 2005, p. 230
  17. ^ Hennessy, Sue (2010). Hidden Depths: Women of the RNLI. The History Press. pp. 140–1. ISBN 9780752454436.
  18. ^ "Duchess Of Kent In Greece (1947)". British Pathé. YouTube. 13 April 2014. Archived from the original on 17 November 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  19. ^ "The Duchess Of Kent Visits Italy (1947)". British Pathé. YouTube. 13 April 2014. Archived from the original on 17 November 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  20. ^ Robin Waldron. "St Mark's History" (PDF) (2011 ed.). St Mark's Church Bromley. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 July 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  21. ^ Sarawak Gazette 1952
  22. ^ "Birth Of A New State (1957)". British Pathé. YouTube. 13 April 2014. Archived from the original on 17 November 2021. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  23. ^ "Duke of Kent unveils plaque for military project". Ghana Armed Forces. Ghana Web. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  24. ^ Zilkha, Bettina (2004). Ultimate Style - The Best of the Best Dressed List. ISBN 2-84323-513-8.
  25. ^ "Princess Marina's Visit To Australia AKA Princess Marina In Australia (1964)". British Pathé. YouTube. 13 April 2014. Archived from the original on 17 November 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  26. ^ Luscombe, Stephen. "The British Empire, Imperialism, Colonialism, Colonies". Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  27. ^ Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage. Kelly's Directories. 2000. ISBN 978-0-333-54577-5.
  28. ^ "Five Queens at funeral of Duchess". The Windsor Star. Windsor. Reuters. 31 August 1968. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  29. ^ "1968: Princess Marina laid to rest". BBC News. 30 August 1976. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  30. ^ Ziegler, Philip (1991). King Edward VIII: The official biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-57730-2, pp. 554-556.
  31. ^ "Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund". About Princess Marina House. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  32. ^ "Overview - NHS Choices". Princess Marina Hospital. 10 August 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  33. ^ "Princess Marina Sports Complex". We Love Rickmansworth. Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  34. ^ a b "She Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina". The Kinks. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  35. ^ "Viewing Page 3729 of Issue 34406". London Gazette. 8 June 1937. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  36. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 214. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  37. ^ "SAINTANNA.RU - Св. Екатерины". Archived from the original on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  38. ^ "London Honours Duchess Aka City Honours Duchess Of Kent (1952)". British Pathé. YouTube. 13 April 2014. Archived from the original on 17 November 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  39. ^ Lee, Celia (2012). "Princess Marina the Duchess of Kent as Commandant of the WRNS during the Second World War". In Lee, Celia (ed.). Women in War: from home front to front line. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military. pp. 101–116. ISBN 9781848846692.

External links[edit]

Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark
Cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg
Born: 13 December 1906 Died: 27 August 1968
Academic offices
Preceded by
New university
Chancellor of the University of Kent
Succeeded by