Princess Anastasia of Greece and Denmark

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Princess Anastasia
Princess Anastasia.jpg
Nancy Stewart Worthington Leeds, 1914
Spouse George Worthington
William Bateman Leeds
Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark
Issue William Bateman Leeds, Jr.
Full name
(Nonie) May "Nancy" Stewart
House House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (by marriage)
Father William Charles Stewart
Mother Mary Holden
Born (1873-01-20)20 January 1873
Zanesville, Ohio, USA
Died 29 August 1923(1923-08-29) (aged 50)
London, England, UK

Princess Anastasia of Greece and Denmark (20 January 1873/1878 – 29 August 1923) was a wealthy American heiress, Nonie "Nancy" May Stewart Worthington Leeds, who became a member of the Greek Royal Family through marriage to Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark, the youngest child of King George I of Greece his Queen, Grand Duchess Olga of Russia.

Youth[edit]

She was born May Stewart in Zanesville, Ohio 20 January 1873/78, to William C. Stewart, a wealthy merchant, and his wife, Mary Holden Stewart, who had been married since 11 December 1874.[1][2] By 1880 the Stewart family had moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where it appears that May's mother died not long afterward, and her father re-married.[1] May was educated at home until the age of seventeen, when she was sent to the Miss Porter's School for young ladies in Farmington, Connecticut. She was soon introduced to high society.

Marriage and family in America[edit]

As "Nonie May Stewart", on 1 October 1894 in Cleveland, she married George Ely Worthington, son of Ralph Worthington, who was a son of major Cleveland industrialist George Worthington.[1][2] The marriage license inaccurately states that she was born in 1876, since Ohio law required that females be at least 18 years of age to marry.[1] The couple lived as man and wife for four years, having no children.

It is unclear how or where, but the marriage ended on 23 March 1899 by divorce, annulment or abandonment,[2] but the 1900 U.S. census records that "May Worthington" was again living with her father and step-mother in Cleveland that year (George Worthington had been born in Cleveland on 7 May 1872 and would die in Temple City, California on 22 August 1950 leaving a widow and three children, having long outlived Princess Anastasia).[1] Since the original marriage was contracted under false pretences and while May was legally underage, annulment is plausible.[1]

On 3 August 1900 Miss "Nonie May (Stewart) Worthington" married for the second time in Cleveland; the groom being William Batemann Leeds, born in Richmond, Indiana on 10 September 1861.[1][2] This was also Leeds' second marriage, the previous one having ended in 1896, at which time he settled one million dollars on his ex-wife.[1] Nonie May and Leeds had one son, William Batemann Leeds, Jr., born on 19 September 1902. Leeds died in 1908 in Paris, France,[2] leaving a fortune estimated at 35 million dollars and a reputation as America's "Tin King" based on his financial success in plating and marketing that metal.[1]

Greek royalty[edit]

The wealthy, 30 year-old widow, soon to be known on the continent as "Nancy May Leeds", chose to remain in Europe, where she socialised among the aristocracy. Mrs. Leeds was a noted client of Cartier's, having her own hall in this famous jewellery shop. She started collecting valuable art and furniture.

In a memoir, published shortly before his death, Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark, 1888-1940, addressed the persistent rumours alleging that his first wife was much older than he and that he married her for profit: The truth, he wrote, was that he met Mrs. Leeds, who was only four years his senior, in Biarritz, France in 1914 where they fell in love, eventually resolving to marry for no other reason.[3] Whether he ever knew that she was, in fact, a decade older than him and had a living ex-husband is unknown.

Their engagement was announced to the public in 1914 on the island of Capri. The wedding was delayed due to reservations within the Royal Family about the prince's marriage with an American commoner who had been twice married. After the First World War when the dynasty went into exile and lived in much reduced circumstances, family opposition to Prince Christopher's wealthy bride-to-be subsided.

The Orthodox wedding took place on 1 February 1920 in Vevey, Switzerland, six years after the engagement.[1][2] Four days later the bride joined the Greek Orthodox church taking, as was usual, a new Christian name; Anastasia.[1][2] Henceforth she was officially styled HRH Princess Anastasia of Greece.[2] However, the U.S. press continued to refer to her as the "Tin Plate Heiress", the "Dollar Princess" or the "Million Dollar Princess".

When Princess Anastasia's 19 year-old son, William B. Leeds, Jr., married her husband's 18 year-old niece, Princess Xenia Georgievna of Russia, in 1921, she is said to have objected because of the couple's youth.[citation needed] She denied rumors that her son would be given a title by the King and convert to the Orthodox faith prior to the marriage. Leeds and Princess Xenia Georgievna were married in Paris, raised a family in the United States, and divorced in New York in March 1930.[1]

Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark and his wife, Nonnie May Stewart (styled Princess Anastasia of Greece), 1923

Shortly after her marriage to Prince Christopher, Anastasia was diagnosed with cancer. She died three years later in 1923 at Spencer House, London.[1] According to her will, her remains were returned to the United States and she was buried with her parents in the family mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York City. In 1929 her widower would remarry, fathering a son, Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark in 1939, by his second wife, Princess Françoise of Orléans (1902–1953).[2]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 20 January 1873/78 - 1 October 1894: Miss Nonie May Stewart
  • 1 October 1894 - 23 March 1899: Mrs. George E. Worthington
  • 23 March 1899 - 3 August 1900: Mrs. Nonie May Worthington
  • 3 August 1900 - 1908: Mrs. William Batemann Leeds
  • 1908 - 1 February 1920: Mrs. Nonie May Worthington Leeds
  • 1 February 1920 - 29 August 1923: Her Royal Highness Princess Anastasia of Greece and Denmark

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Huberty, Michel; Giraud, Alain; Magdelaine, F. et B. (1994). L'Allemagne Dynastique, Tome VII: Oldenbourg. France: Laballery. pp. 287, 295, 303–305, 318. ISBN 2-901138-07-1. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Furstliche Hauser, Band XIX. Limburg an der Lahn, Germany: C.A. Starke Verlag. 2011. pp. 15, 19. ISBN 978-3-7980-0849-6. 
  3. ^ Greece, Prince Christopher of. Le Monde et les Cours. Paris, France. 1939. p. 169.

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