Saturday, January 31, 2009

faux connections

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 the 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 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 a 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 mean Lady Iris and Hamilton did not have children.
Lady Iris did have one son, Robin Bryan, by her second marriage to an American jazz musician. The couple was 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'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 Prussia. That family renounced their right to the throne and for their future generations did they not? as you said he is a ´pretender."

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.


Anonymous said...

Oh boy, another one comes out of the woodwork! Every few years, we hear of another pretender to one throne or another. It really is too sad to contemplate. I can think of far far better ways to get attention.

Did Grania really think that no one would know who Iris Mountbatten was and that she could get away with this nonsense? Pity.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Well... this woman cannot be what she claims...

But then, Who is she?

Even if she's as fallen from the skies, as she seems, she must have been born somewhere, gone to school somewhere, lived somewhere?


Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

She's has lots of friends on Facebook - and I wonder how many realize she is a fraud. I have no idea who she really is, however.

Unknown said...
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your_vamp said...

I knew Iris very well. She was a very sweet, very funny lady with some amazing stories to recount.

I spent a number of years as her friend when she lived at both her house at Inglewood and Welland in Rosedale, and then at her townhouse in High Park.

After the fire in her townhouse, she was actually in another apartment in the Avenue Road, St. Clair area for some time before her final illness.

Sadly, she developed a cancerous brain tumour. Poor lady. It must have been very painful.

I was at her memorial at St. Paul's on Bloor St. E., and attended the wake afterwards. Her son Robin was distraught.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this. I like following these kinds of things, and whether or not they there's any truth to the matter. Thiago |

Boulevardière said...

Thank you again for writing this! Whoever this "Grania" con artist is, she really needs to get a life. She claims her thug sons have certain titles, inherited through Iris and O'Malley. What a joke!

I knew Iris well for many years here in Toronto. She specifically told me that because O'Malley was Catholic, to marry him she had to sign away her distant connection to the throne, an accurate and pertinent fact that this con hasn't even bothered to check. And for gawd sakes, Iris married young, but certainly not during George III's or V's reign. She was only 16 when Edward VIII came to the throne! As a teenager she was a train bearer for Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) when her husband Bertie was crowned King at the coronation in 1937. She married during George VI's reign, in 1941, but left O'Malley a year or so later.

Iris was a great dame, so much fun to know and to be with... I wish this idiot would stop besmirching Iris's legacy.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Iris did not have to sign away rights. The rights were lost automatically due to the Act of Settlement (1701). They separated shortly after the marriage due to Iris's alleged infidelity, and were already divorced when Grania claims she was born. I wrote this is 2009, but Grania still making claims ...

Kirby said...

I'm truly interested in any pictures, videos, or voice files of Lady Iris Mountbatten. Anything you could share of her life in Toronto would be great, as well.

Thank you.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

I have no videos or voice files of Lady Iris sorry