Saturday, January 31, 2009
I've been a royal genealogist for more than 30 years now. I specialize in the descendants of Queen Victoria. I doubt there are many others who know as much about the QVDs, as I do. Thus, I feel confident in blowing open one of the latest "royal" descendants. Consider the strange case of "Lady Grania Mountbatten", who claims to be the daughter of the late Lady Iris Mountbatten and her first husband, Hamilton O'Malley. Fortunately, her story does not told water or much else because she cannot get her facts right. She's even on Facebook, where she apparently gets away with her faux story.
Lady Iris's life was well-documented.
Let's consider the facts vs "Grania's" story. Please feel free to giggle or guffaw:
If Iris and Hamilton had children (they didn't), the children would have had the surname O'Malley and would have been commoners. No children were born of this marriage. The courtesy title of Lady before one's Christian name applies only to daughters of dukes, marquesses and earls. It is not hereditary.
"Grania" claims to be the Baroness Burrishole (allegedly through O'Malley) and has a seat in the House of Lords. Burrishole is an Irish barony (as in a part of county), but Burrishole is not a barony as in a peerage. (Even so, Irish peers cannot sit in the House of Lords.)
She also claims that Iris and Hamilton were married at "Brantridge Park CE Parish in Balcombe, Sussex in England and by Royal License by THE KING, George the Third on January 29, 1941.) George III died in 1820, and was unlikely to have approved the marriage.
The engagement was announced on January 18,1941 and was announced in The Times. The announcement included "The engagement has his Majesty the King's sanction and approval."
George VI's approval of the engagement was not the same thing as an official approval of the marriage, according to the requirements of the Royal Marriages Act. Lady Iris never sought official permission to marry because she descended from a princess who married into a foreign family. Although Prince Henry of Battenberg was naturalized as a British subject, he was born as a foreign prince; thus, Princess Beatrice, who was required to marry according to the Royal Marriage Act, married into a foreign family. Her descendants are excluded from the Royal Marriage Act.
Thus, George VI's approval was done, largely because Iris's grandmother, Princess Beatrice, was a member of the British royal family.
Nor did George VI issue a Royal License for the wedding. "Grania" also claims that the O'Malleys were Protestant. Reality check. Lady Iris and Hamilton O'Malley were married at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church, Hayward's Heath. This was one of the controversies regarding Lady Iris's wedding. She married a Roman Catholic, and ceased to be a dynast, according to the Act of Settlement.
The wedding was announced in the Marriages section of the Times:
"The marriage took place quietly on Saturday afternoon at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church, Hayward's Heath."
In several interviews, Iris talked about the scandal of marrying a Roman Catholic, and then being divorced by him.
"Grania" also states that Hamilton was a Major in HM Royal Air Force. At the time of his marriage to Lady Iris, O'Malley was a Captain in the Irish Guards. He retired in 1949 with the rank of Major. According to his obituary, Hammy,as he was known to his friends, took part in D-Day, taking a glider on the River Arne. "He also flew a glider into the Battle of Arnhem, and was reported missing on 25th September, and then a Prisoner of War, he was repatriated in May 1945." By that time, his marriage was already over. In 1946, Lady Iris and Hamilton were divorced although the proceedings had begun more than a year earlier. Hammy was already involved with Sadie de Pentheny O'Kelly, whom he married on January 25, 1947. The couple had at least two sons, Charles Patrick, who was born on October 16, 1947, and Patrick, who was born on March 17, 1949. This marriage ended in divorce in 1970. He married for a third time to Elizabeth Saunders.
In an interview with the Toronto Star in 1981, Lady Iris said that her first marriage was a "total disaster, a nightmare." Hamilton divorced her. "I couldn't get an annulment without telling things I still refuse to tell. I could never tell a divorce court the horrible, ugly things that happened, but my husband finally agreed to divorce me.
"If I had divorced him, it would have been okay. But for him to divorce me -- that was really scandalous."
In an 1969 interview with the Toronto Globe magazine, Lady Iris said about her first marriage: "The first indication that I had that I was doing something rather unusual was when an official from the government came to request a signature on a paper which said that I and my heirs agreed to renounce all claims to the British throne. Well, I figured the only chance I had of becoming Queen was if a terrible plague hit Buckingham Palace. But of course, I had to sign it."
The journalist notes: "There were no heirs and in a few years, there was no marriage."
No heirs means Lady Iris and Hamilton did not have children.
Lady Iris did have one son, Robin Bryan, by her second marriage to American jazz musician. The couple were married for only a few months before they separated.
In 1947, Lady Iris came to the US, seeking employment. She was in the news because she bounced a few checks, which brought her to the attention of U.S. Immigration. After her third marriage in 1965 to a Canadian, William Kemp, Lady Iris settled in Toronto. The marriage to Kemp lasted only two weeks, but the couple never divorced.
I met Lady Iris in the late 1970s, when I visited her Toronto home on two separate occasions. We talked about her family, and she showed me private albums. We also talked about her childhood. I I've also been in contact with her son, Robin. He was his mother's only child.
My favorite comment was a response "Grania" made to an article about exiled monarchs:
"Lady Grania Mountbatten - June 18th, 2008 at 9:41 am
I am ´ligit Queen of Germany whenever I as Queen as Monarch is required in Germany, not the Prince of Prusia. That family renounced their right to the throne and for their future generations did they not? as you said he is a ´pretentender."
Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia is the head of the former German Imperial Family. He succeeded his grandfather, Louis Ferdinand, as his father had died a year after he was born, and his two uncles had renounced their rights because they had married unequally. Moreover, Salic law applies to the German throne, and the Battenbergs do not descend from this family. The Battenbergs were a morganatic branch of the Grand Ducal House of Hesse and By Rhine.
If the monarchy had not been abolished after the end of the first world war, Georg Friedrich would now be the German Emperor and King of Prussia.