Saturday, June 25, 2016
Royal guests at Alexandra Knatchbull's wedding
The Hon. Alexandra Knatchbull was married to Thomas Hooper today at Romsey Abbey in Romsey, Hampshire, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and other British and European royals.
[A bit about the Mountbatten Star Tiara, worn by the bride. http://www.thecourtjeweller.com/2014/08/saturday-sparkler-mountbatten-star-tiara.html]
Alexandra, 33, was escorted into the Abbey and walked down the aisle, by the Prince of Wales, and her father, Baron Brabourne, who is said to be in ill health, which may have been the official reason. He has not been close to his daughter, since he left her mother for another woman.
Lord Brabourne did accompany Lady Brabourne to the wedding. The couple are estranged, due to Lord Brabourne's adultery (and other issues). He has since broken up with his former mistress, and now lives in a house on the Broadlands estate. Lady Brabourne runs the house and estate.
The ties between the British Royal Family and Lord Brabourne's family are strong. Lord Brabourne (Norton Knatchbull) is the eldest child of the Countess Mountbatten of Burma and the late Lord Brabourne. (Norton succeeded his father in 2005. Until his father's death, Norton was styled as Lord Romsey, the secondary title for the Mountbatten earldom. He is also the heir apparent to the earldom).
Lady Mountbatten and the Duke of Edinburgh are first cousins as Lady Mountbatten's father, Louis, the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, was the younger brother of Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice. Lady Mounbatten and her younger sister, Lady Pamela Hicks, were childhood friends of the then Princess Elizabeth, who was a bridesmaid at Patricia's wedding in 1946. Prince Philip was an usher.
Elizabeth and Philip were married a year later. Six weeks before their wedding, Lady Brabourne gave birth to a son, Norton Louis Philip, who was baptized at the Mersham Parish Church on November 18, 1947. Prince Philip, the Crown Princess of Sweden, Lady Pamela Mountbatten and Thomas Dugdale, were the godparents.
Lady Brabourne (now the Countess Mountbatten of Burma) is one of the Prince of Wales' godparents. Norton and Charles, a year a part in age, grew up together, attended Gordonstoun in Scotland, and their friendship flourished. Several months after Charles's engagement to Lady Diana Spencer, Lady Romsey (now Lady Brabourne) tried to caution Charles about Diana, as she did not think Diana was ready for marriage.
The newly married Prince and Princess of Wales spent their wedding night at Broadlands, just as his parents did. The Prince of Wales is the godfather of Lord and Lady Brabourne's only son, the. Hon. Nicholas Knatchbull, who was born in May 1981. The late Diana, Princess of Wales, was one of Alexandra's godmothers.
The Queen and Prince Philip attended Norton and the former Penelope Eastwood's marriage at Romsey Abbey on October 20, 1979, nearly two months after the assassination of Norton's grandfather, Lord Mountbatten. Norton's younger brother, Nicholas, and his maternal grandmother, were among the other victims. Lord Brabourne and Lady Mountbatten suffered serious injuries in bombing of Lord Mountbatten's fishing boat, but were able to attend their son's wedding. Both were in wheelchairs.
The Prince of Wales served as Norton's best man. The Duke and Duchess of Kent, Princess Alexandra and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester also attend Norton's wedding.
Lord and Lady Brabourne's son, Nicholas (named for Norton's murdered brother), is a year older than the Duke of Cambridge. Both were at Eton, and it was expected that the family friendship would extend another generation. Lord Brabourne is one of William's godparents.
In June 25, 1986, Lady Brabourne (at the Lady Romsey) gave birth to a third child, Leonora Louise Marie Elizabeth. Leonora suffered from kidney cancer, and died on October 22, 1991, and is buried at Broadlands. It seems significant that Alexandra has chosen to marry on what would have been her sister's 30th birthday.
The friendship between the Duke of Cambridge and Nicholas Knatchbull no longer exists. In January 2000, 18-year-old Nicholas was pulled over by police officers in Winchester at a traffic stop for what was described as an alleged drug bust.
Cannabis was found in the car, and the young heir was grounded by his parents.
Ecstasy and cannabis were found in a wooden box under the passenger seat. Drugs were also found in the socks of two male passengers. Six months later, in June, 2000, Nicholas was arrested by Royal Protection officers guarding Prince William, as he was found in possession of drugs.
Nicholas' life continued to spiral downward. A year later, he was sent to rehab. Kensington Palace, in response to requests from the press, said at the time that Prince William knew Nicholas in his first year at Eton in 1995, but was no longer in contact.
For Nicholas there would be more time spent in clinics as he battled his demons: drugs and alcohol addiction. By 2009, he was living in a "squalid crack den" in London. Lord and Lady Brabourne are reported to have put the Broadlands estate in a trust, similar to what the late Duke of Marlborough did for Blenheim, due to Nicholas' drug issues.
The death of Leonora and Nicholas' battles with drugs certainly affected the marriage of Lord and Lady Brabourne. By 2010, Lord Brabourne had left the marital home and was living in the Bahamas with his mistress, Jeannie McWheeny, the widow (and 4th wife) of Sir Nicholas Nuttall, Bt. (One of the guests at the wedding was Princess Florence von Preussen and her husband, the Hon. James Tollemache. Florrie's aunt Miranda, the Countess of Stockton, was Sir Nicholas' third wife.)
The Queen and Prince Philip and other members of the Royal Family have rallied around Lady Brabourne. She shares a common interest in carriage driving with the Duke of Edinburgh, and is often invited to Sandringham. Alexandra has also been invited to Sandringham.
In December 2010, the Daily Mail reported that Alexandra was "being groomed" to take over the Broadlands estate, which is not entailed. She cannot inherit the Mountbatten or Brabourne peerages, but she can take over the running of the Broadlands estate.
A goddaughter of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Alexandra is a forensic accountant, and studied theology at Regent's Park College, Oxford. She has a master's degree from Georgetown University.
Today the family celebrates Alexandra's wedding to Thomas Hooper. The Queen was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy. Queen Sofia of Spain, King Constantine II and Queen Anne Marie of the Hellenes, Princess Irene of Greece, Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath of Jordan were among the foreign royal guests. Other European cousins who attended the wedding included the Prince and Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (the Prince's grandmother, Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark, was the Duke of Edinburgh's eldest sister) and the Landgrave and Landgravine of Hesse.
The Countess Mountbatten of Burma was able to attend her granddaughter's wedding, as was the bride's older brother, Nicholas.
What a nice touch (and honor) ... and speaks volumes of about the relationship between the Prince of Wales and Alexandra Hooper. Lord Brabourne arrived with his estranged wife, looking frail, but I doubt illness played a role in Alexandra's choice. Lord Spencer, recovering from a stroke, managed to walk his daughter, Lady Diana, down the aisle, when she married the Prince of Wales.
The Hon. Mrs. Hooper chose to ask the Prince of Wales to walk her down the aisle ... and I bet he was chuffed.