Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark

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Princess Marina
Duchess of Kent
Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent by Peter North.jpg
The Duchess in 1936
Born (1906-12-13)13 December 1906
Athens, Greece
Died 27 August 1968(1968-08-27) (aged 61)
Kensington Palace, London, England
Burial 30 August 1968
Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore
Prince George, Duke of Kent
(m. 1934; d. 1942)
House Glücksburg
Father Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark
Mother Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia
Religion Greek Orthodox

Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, CI, GCVO, GBE (Greek: Πριγκίπισσα Μαρίνα της Ελλάδας και Δανίας; 13 December [O.S. 30 November] 1906[1] – 27 August 1968), later known as the Duchess of Kent, was a princess of the Greek royal house, who married Prince George, Duke of Kent, fourth son of King George V of the United Kingdom in 1934. They had three children: Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, 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 of Greece and Denmark, right, with her sisters Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, left, and Princess Elizabeth of Greece and Denmark, center.

Princess Marina was born in Athens, Greece, on 13 December 1906.[2] Her father was Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, the third son of George I of Greece.[3] Her mother was Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, a granddaughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia.[4] She was the youngest of the couple's children.[5] One of her paternal uncles was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the father of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

She was baptised near the end of 1906, and her godparents were: the King of Greece (her paternal grandfather); the King of the United Kingdom (her great-uncle by marriage); the 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).[6]

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

Marriage and children[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] On 29 November 1934, they married at Westminster Abbey, London.[7] The wedding was followed by a Greek ceremony in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace.[7] This 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.[8]

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][9]

Portrait by Philip de László, 1934

The Royal School of Needlework made a quilt as a wedding gift for Princess Marina and the Duke of Kent.[10] Prince George had been created Duke of Kent on 9 October 1934.[11]

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".[12]

During World War II, Marina was trained as a nurse for three months under the pseudonym "Sister Kay" and joined the civil nurse reserve.[5]

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.[2] She was the president of the Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for 26 years.[5] 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.[13] 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.[14][15] 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.[16]

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.[17]

In March 1957 when the Gold Coast (later Ghana)—gained independence from Britain, the Duchess of Kent was appointed to represent the Queen at the celebrations. 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.

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.[18] In 1964, the Princess took an extensive tour of Australia and officially opened Gladesville Bridge in Sydney.[19]

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.[20] 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.[21][2] Funeral service for the Princess was held at the St. George's Chapel on 30 August.[22] She was buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore.[23] Her funeral was the final royal ceremony attended by her brother-in-law, the former Edward VIII.[24]


The Kinks recorded "She's Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina" for their 1969 album Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire).[25] The song was written by Ray Davies.[25] In 2017, Clare Holman portrayed Princess Marina in the season 2 finale of The Crown.

Princess Marina gave her name to many facilities, including:

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 13 December 1906 – 29 November 1934: Her Royal Highness Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark
  • 29 November 1934 – 8 June 1961: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent
  • 8 June 1961 – 27 August 1968: Her Royal Highness Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent


British and Commonwealth honours

Foreign honours

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


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Genealogy of the Royal Family of Great Britain". Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "Marina won Britain's heart". Evening Times. 27 August 1968. Retrieved 17 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. AP. 23 November 1934. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "Marina, a tragic but well-loved Princess". The Sydney Morning Herald. London. 28 August 1968. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "Yvonne's Royalty Home Page: Royal Christenings". Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  7. ^ a b "King and Queen see rehearsals". The Sydney Morning Herald. 29 November 1934. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Princess Marina's Gown". Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor. 
  9. ^ "The wedding of Prince George, Duke of Kent and Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent". National Portrait Gallery, London. 
  10. ^ "Princess Marina's quilt". British Pathé. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "No. 34094". The London Gazette. 9 October 1934. p. 6365. 
  12. ^ Hugo Vickers, Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, Hutchinson, 2005, p. 230
  13. ^ Hennessy, Sue (2010). Hidden Depths: Women of the RNLI. The History Press. pp. 140–1. ISBN 9780752454436. 
  14. ^ "Duchess Of Kent In Greece (1947)". British Pathé. YouTube. 13 April 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2018. 
  15. ^ "The Duchess Of Kent Visits Italy (1947)". British Pathé. YouTube. 13 April 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2018. 
  16. ^ Robin Waldron. "St Mark's History" (PDF) (2011 ed.). St Mark's Church Bromley. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  17. ^ Sarawak Gazette 1952
  18. ^ Ultimate Style - The Best of the Best Dressed List. 2004. ISBN 2 84323 513 8. 
  19. ^ "Princess Marina's Visit To Australia AKA Princess Marina In Australia (1964)". British Pathé. YouTube. 13 April 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2018. 
  20. ^ Luscombe, Stephen. "The British Empire, Imperialism, Colonialism, Colonies". Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  21. ^ Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage. Kelly's Directories. 2000. ISBN 978-0-333-54577-5. 
  22. ^ "Five Queens at funeral of Duchess". The Windsor Star. Windsor. Reuters. 31 August 1968. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  23. ^ "1968: Princess Marina laid to rest". BBC News. 30 August 1976. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  24. ^ Ziegler, Philip (1991). King Edward VIII: The official biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-57730-2, pp. 554-556.
  25. ^ a b "She Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina". The Kinks. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  26. ^ "Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund". About Princess Marina House. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  27. ^ "Overview - NHS Choices". Princess Marina Hospital. 10 August 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  28. ^ "Princess Marina Sports Complex". We Love Rickmansworth. Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  29. ^ "Viewing Page 3729 of Issue 34406". London Gazette. 8 June 1937. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  30. ^ "Wedding of Juan Carlos of Spain and Sophia of Greece". Archived from the original on 21 July 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  31. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 214. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  32. ^ "SAINTANNA.RU - Св. Екатерины". Archived from the original on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  33. ^ "London Honours Duchess Aka City Honours Duchess Of Kent (1952)". British Pathé. YouTube. 13 April 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2018. 

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
Jo Grimond