Monday, August 4, 2008

Joyce Brittain-Jones - a King's companion

If you read through the few books in English about the Greek monarchy, and especially King George II, you will not find many references to Joyce Brittain-Jones. You might see a reference to a Miss Brown, as the American minister in Greece referred to King George II's companion. Lady Diana Cooper called her Mrs. Jones. The latter was more accurate.

Mrs. Joyce Brittain-Jones met King George II in India in 1930, where she and her husband, Jack Brittain-Jones, who served in 1st Battalion Black Watch, lived. Jack Brittain-Jones served as ADC to Lord Willingdon, Viceroy of India The former Joyce Wallach and Jack had married in January 1924, and were the parents of a daughter, Pauleen Victoria.

The king, whose marriage to Elisabeta of Romania, would end that summer, realized he was in love with the British commoner. The Brittain-Jones marriage soon ended in divorce, and Joyce joined the king in Athens after his recall to the throne in November 1935.

Joyce filed for the divorce, charging her husband with adultery.

Until World War II, Joyce lived at the royal family's summer palace on Mount Parnis, about 30 miles from Athens. There "she usually knitted or read," while the king entertained their guests. Joyce Brittain-Jones was very different from Elena Lupescu or Wallis Simpson. She provided the king "the quiet domesticity that was denied him in his loveless first marriage," according to a 1946 profile of Mrs. Brittain-Jones. that was published in the Washington Post. During their 12 years together, the couple were "not frequenters of the pleasure spots by the international glamour set."

Joyce Brittain-Jones was by the King's side when he was forced to flee to Crete, in 1941. She accompanied him to Egypt and London, and was with George II when he traveled to the United States in 1943.

In exile in London during the second world war, King George II lived at the Claridge's Hotel, but was a frequent guest at Mrs. Brittain-Jones' suburban home, where she lived with her daughter. During the war, Joyce worked at an armaments factory, although she and the king spent a lot of time together in British society, which welcomed her. The king's cousin, Princess Marina, the duchess of Kent, considered Joyce to be an "intimate friend."

After the war, the king and Joyce settled into a house in Chester Square, where they "could lead the quiet, dignified life of an English gentleman and his wife." But the winds again changed in Athens, and elections in March 1946 brought about a clear support for the king. In September, the King returned to Greece in triumphant. He wanted Mrs. Brittain-Jones to join him, and threatened to abdicate if Britain's Foreign Office did not allow her to travel to Greece. Much to George's dismay, Joyce had previously turned down his proposal of marriage because she felt that their marriage would have jeopardized his return to Greece.
Most Greeks did not know about Mrs. Brittain-Jones, but the British Foreign Office was concerned that a public relationship could endanger George's throne.
The king's sister, Princess Katherine, sent a letter to the British Foreign Office, demanding that Joyce be allowed to return to Greece. She was supportive of her brother's relationship, and said that Joyce would live at the palace, and act as her lady-in-waiting.

The king was depressed and not well, and missing the woman he loved. He received assurances from Britain that Joyce would be allowed to travel to Christmas by Christmas. But there would never be a marriage between the king and the "soft-spoken, willowy brunette." On April 1, 1947, King George II died in Athens, and was succeeded by his younger, brother, Paul.

Two years later, on September 22, 1949, Joyce Brittain-Jones married Lt. Col. Edwin Boxshall, whose father served had served as a British Consul in Romania. The couple were married quietly at a registry office in London.

Joyce Boxshall died on July 7, 1974 at the St. George's Nursing Home, London, after "a long illness bravely borne." She was survived by her husband and her daughter, Pauleen Aiers, who worked for the British High Commission in Canberra.

The sources for this article include John van der Kiste's book, the Kings of the Hellenes, and news articles in the Times, New York Times and Washington Post.

5 comments:

CourtneyL said...

I purchased an old scrapbook and there was a photo ID'd as Ms Brown and King George. I could send it to you if you'd like.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

I would love to see it

Panos G said...

hi there. well, have you ever been sent this pic??? waiting with bated breath!! cheers.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

No, not was sent the photo.

Harriet Smith said...

http://www.announcements.telegraph.co.uk/deaths/181530/aiers