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Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Born Princess Marina of Greece & Denmark, (13 December 1906), later known as the Duchess of Kent.

Her father was Prince Nicholas of Greece & Denmark, the third son of George I of Greece. Her mother was Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, a granddaughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. One of her paternal uncles was Prince Andrew of Greece & Denmark, the father of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The family was generally poor & forced into exile when she was 11, following the overthrow of the Greek monarchy. They later moved to Paris, while the Princess stayed throughout Europe with her extended family.

By Royal Photographers (Signed photograph) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1932 Princess Marina & Prince George, Duke of Kent (the fourth son of King George V), a second cousin through Christian IX of Denmark, met in London. On 29 November 1934, they married at Westminster Abbey, London. The wedding was followed by a Greek ceremony in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace. This was the most recent occasion on which a foreign-born princess married into the British Royal Family.

One of her bridesmaids was her husband's niece Princess Elizabeth of York (now Queen Elizabeth II)

They had three children: Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra, & Prince Michael.

The Duke of Kent was killed on 25 August 1942, in an aeroplane crash at Eagles Rock, near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland, while on active service with the Royal Air Force.

Photograph of Duke and Duchess of Kent, published by The Times in 1934.

During World War II, Marina was trained as a nurse for three months under the pseudonym "Sister Kay" and joined the civil nurse reserve.

After her husband's death, the Duchess of Kent continued to be an active member of the British Royal Family, carrying out a wide range of royal & official engagements. She was the president of the Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club for 26 years. She was also the president of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution from 1943 until her death & was awarded the RNLI's Gold Medal in 1967 to mark this contribution. One of her first cousins was Prince Philip (later the Duke of Edinburgh), who married her niece, the future Queen Elizabeth II, in 1947.

In March 1957 when the Gold Coast (later Ghana) gained independence from Britain, the Duchess of Kent was appointed to represent the Queen at the celebrations. Fifty years later, at the 50th Anniversary of Ghana's Independence, it would be her son, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, who would be appointed by the Queen to represent her.

Marina earned a place in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1960. In 1964, the Princess took an extensive tour of Australia & officially opened Gladesville Bridge in Sydney.

In September 1966, when the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland became the new Republic of Botswana, the Princess was appointed again to represent the Queen at the celebrations. The main public hospital in Gaborone, the new Botswana's capital, is named "Princess Marina Hospital".

She served as the first Chancellor of the University of Kent at Canterbury from 1963 until her death from a brain tumour at Kensington Palace at 11.40 am on 27 August 1968, aged 61. Funeral service for the Princess was held at the St. George's Chapel on 30 August. She was buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore. Her funeral was the final royal ceremony attended by her brother-in-law, the former Edward VIII.


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