Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lady Anne Cavendish-Bentinck

Lady Anne Cavendish-Bentinck has died at the age of 92. She was the daughter of the 7th Duke of Portland. Lady Anne, who never married, was one of Britain's wealthiest heiresses. When she was young, she was in love with the Duke of Leeds, but her parents forbid the marriage. She never married, although her name was linked with King Leopold III of the Belgians and his younger brother, Charles in 1937.

Her heir is believed to be her nephew, William Parente. Lady Anne is William's godmother.

Lady Anne was the eldest of two daughters. Her sister, Lady Margaret died in 1955 from polio, only five years after her marriage to an Italian nobleman, Don Gaetano Parente.

When Lady Anne's father died in 1977, the dukedom passed to a cousin, Ferdinand, who was married twice but had no children. He died in 1980, and his heir was his youngest brother, Victor, who died in 1990 when the Portland dukedom became extinct. Victor was also married twice, and he had one son, William, who died in 1966. He did not have any children, although, he, too, had married twice.

Lady Anne was the primary beneficiary of her father's estate, including the family seat, Welbeck Abbey.

The Dukedom of Portland was created for Henry Bentinck, the second earl of Portland. Although the male line for the Portland became extinct, there remained male heirs of the third son of the 1st Earl of Portland.

Lady Anne was the largest landowner in Northumberland, and she also owned an impressive art collection.

In December 1937, the New York Times inferred that Lady Anne, then 21-years-old, was reported to be the next queen of the Belgians. King Leopold III, whose wife, Astrid, had died in a car accident in 1935, was a good friend of Lady Anne's grandparents, the Duke and Duchess of Portland. The New York Times's article was largely based on reports in the British media.

King Leopold and his mother, Queen Elisabeth, traveled incognito to Britain in early December, where the King was expected to meet Lady Anne, who lived with her father, the Marquess of Titchfield, at Welbeck House on the Welbeck Abbey estate. Lady Anne was described as " tall, attractive and a keen huntswoman." On December 4th, the date of the article, Lady Anne "was following the hounds."

Queen Elisabeth and King Leopold arrived at Dover on December 4 and traveled to the Portlands' London home in Grosvenor Square. The trip "was in the strictest incognito" and no British official was present with the Belgian royals arrived in England.

According to the New York Times, "Belgium was taken by complete surprise today" when it made known that the King and his mother had left the country for England.

But was the King seeking a new bride and a new mother for his three young children. Rumors of a possible engagement between the king and Lady Anne were denied by her father, Lord Titchfield.

The following day, Leopold's younger brother, Prince Charles arrived in England. "Mayfair gossips immediately decided that it was he rather than the widowed Belgian monarch" who was going to propose to Lady Anne.

Prince Charles was first reported to be engaged to Lady Anne in 1932 when he visited Britain and spent time with the Portlands. British papers assumed that he had come to Britain to find a bride, preferably from a noble -- and Roman Catholic -- family.

On the evening of December 5, King Leopold's secretary issued a communiqué which declared that the "fantastic rumors" circulating in England regarding the king's visit were without "foundation for any members of the royal family." The communiqué also noted that King Leopold had a "slight chill" but was "almost recovered."

An AP report (December 6) reported that King Leopold "is suffering from a cold" and remained at Welbeck Abbey. Lady Anne "drove through a snowstorm to open the Christmas shopping week at Worksop." Photographers noted that Lady Anne "was not wearing a ring when she drew off her gloves to switch on the lights" that decorated the town of Worksop.

"Usually well-informed diplomatic sources," told the AP that they doubted that Leopold was involved in a romance, but his brother, who "suddenly arrived in England yesterday," might "figure in any English romance."

The Times reported that the Count of Flanders (Prince Charles) had arrived in England for "a private visit," but he was not staying at Welbeck Abbey. Prince Charles, who attended Eton and Dartmouth, visited Britain often, as he had numerous friends among the British aristocracy.

Diplomatic sources noted "it was likely that Leopold had come to England merely as an attentive son," who was accompanying his mother on a visit to the Portlands, who were close friends of her husband, King Albert, who died in 1934.

The King and the Queen Mother's secretaries both issued official denials of the romance. Lady Anne was also asked about the rumor, and she answered: "I am sorry, I can say nothing at all.

Three weeks before this visit, King Leopold had paid a state visit to the United Kingdom.

According to an Associated Press Biographical Sketch of Prince Charles, the Prince "enjoys his freedom from marriage ties, shuns society and loves to retire to his Raversyde bungalow in Ostend."

The Prince will never marry, according to his entourage, "unless he falls suddenly and hopelessly in love." The report added that the Prince "much enjoyed the reports of his supposed engagement to Lady Anne Cavendish-Bentinck," when he visited England "at the end of November 1937. [The visit was actually in early December.)

"They absolutely want me to give up bachelorship," the prince told Baron Robert Goffinet, who had accompanied him on the trip. "But I'm afraid that they will have to wait several years more to come."

The profile was written in December 1937.


Anonymous said...


Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Thank you. Happy New Year right back at you!

glamah16 said...

Happy New Year Marlene!