Marita Crawley

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Marita Georgina Phillips (born 28 May 1954 in London, England), a British songwriter and author,[1][2] was born the third daughter of Lt.-Col. Harold Pedro Joseph Phillips and his wife, Georgina Wernher, who was the elder daughter and co-heiress of Sir Harold Wernher, 3rd Bt, by his wife Countess Anastasia de Torby (later Lady Zia Wernher, CBE).[1][3]

Her lyrics have been recorded by artists such as Peter Skellern, Demis Roussos, William Lovelady and Art Garfunkel. She has written the libretto for the opera "PUSHKIN - Poet and Tsar", based on the lives of her great-great-great-grandfathers, Alexander Pushkin and Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Music by Konstantin Boyarsky the opera was premiered by Novaya Opera in Moscow February 4th 2017[4].

Marita Phillips studied acting at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama and ballet at the Nesta Brooking School before training as a mime with Adam Darius, with whom she founded and ran The Mime Centre, London.[5] She has written the book and lyrics for the children's musicals; "The Dream Dealer" and "Buzz – the story of Glorybee". She has also written the novel "The Dream Dealer".

Royal ancestry[edit]

She is the fourth of five children of Lt.-Col. Harold Pedro Joseph Phillips (1909–1980) and his wife, Georgina Wernher (1919–2011).[3][6] Her eldest sister is Alexandra Hamilton, Duchess of Abercorn and her youngest sister is Natalia Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster (a godmother of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge). Marita and her siblings are close to the British Royal Family, being distantly related to both Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.[1][7] They are also descendants, through non-Catholic marriages, of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, in whose Protestant descendants is vested the right of succession to the British throne according to the Act of Settlement 1701.

They also descend from Russia's most renowned author and nobleman Alexander Pushkin, and thus from his African great-grandfather, Abram Petrovich Gannibal, the youth believed to have belonged to a family of tribal chieftains who became a protégé of Peter the Great. The sisters' maternal grandmother was born Countess Anastasia de Torby (later Lady "Zia" Wernher), younger morganatic daughter of Grand Duke Michael Mihailovich of Russia (a grandson of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia) by his wife Countess Sophie von Merenberg, morganatic daughter of Prince Nikolaus of Nassau (himself brother of Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg) by his wife Natalya Aleksandrovna, Pushkin's younger daughter.[3]

Lady Zia's sister Countess Nadezhda de Torby (or "Nada") was the wife of Prince George of Battenberg (later George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven), elder maternal uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh. The Torby sisters were third cousins of the prince through their common ancestor, Tsar Nicholas I.[3] Marita's paternal grandparents were Col. Joseph Harold John Phillips and his wife Mary Mercedes Bryce, whose niece Janet Mercedes Bryce (daughter of Major Francis Bryce of Hamilton, Bermuda) married David Mountbatten, 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven, Nada Mountbatten's son.

In 1982, Marita married Randall Crawley (1950–1988), a son of Aidan Crawley MP and his wife Virginia Cowles, journalist and author. Randall Crawley was killed with his brother Andrew in a private plane crash near Turin in Italy on 10 September 1988,[8][9] leaving issue two sons and one daughter: Aidan Harold Winston Crawley (22 October 1983), Cosima Georgina Crawley (31 May 1985) and Galen Randall George Crawley (13 November 1988). The posthumous younger son Galen Crawley is a godson of The Prince of Wales.[10] In 2006, Marita remarried, her second husband being the journalist turned media baron, Andrew Knight (b. 1939).[1]

She is currently 1536th in line for the British throne.



  1. ^ a b c d Lundy, Darryl. "p. 11283". The Peerage. [unreliable source]
  2. ^ CDI Library Russia List
  3. ^ a b c d Willis, Daniel, The Descendants of King George I of Great Britain, Clearfield Co., Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, 2002, pp. 114, 601–602 ISBN 0-8063-5172-1.
  4. ^ Macfarquhar, Neil (2017-03-07). "A Descendant’s Daring Homage to Pushkin". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-08. 
  5. ^ Darius, Adam (1984). The Adam Darius Method. London: Latonia. p. 12. ISBN 0-9502707-2-5. 
  6. ^ Dewar, Peter Beauclerk (2001). Burke' Landed Gentry of Great Britain: Together with Members of the Titled and non-Titled Contemporary Establishment (19 ed.). Burke's Peerage. ISBN 978-0-9711966-0-5. 
  7. ^ London tribute to honor contributions to conservation and the arts
  8. ^ Harriet Crawley, their sister, speaks about the Crawley Gap Year Scholarships in memory of her brothers.[1] Retrieved 18 September 2007.
  9. ^ " Ayer's adopted son dies" The Daily Telegraph, 2004. [2] Harriet Crawley lost her husband Julian Ayer, adoptive son of the philosopher Freddie Ayer, in a Sri Lankan flood.
  10. ^ Work of the SMA Trust
Preceded by
Eliza Burnett
Line of succession to the British throne Succeeded by
Aidan Crawley