This is the final installment in my 3-part series on the Kent family. Now, the Kent family: Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy.
Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel was born Christmas Day in 1936. She was the second child and only daughter of Prince George and Princess Marina, the Duke and Duchess of Kent.
Princess Alexandra spent most of her childhood at her family’s country house in Iver, Buckinghamshire. During World War II the princess lived with her grandmother Queen Mary, the widow of George V, at her temporary country home Badminton.
Alexandra and her siblings were dealt the devastating loss of their father during the war. The Duke of Kent was killed in a mysterious airplane crash near Caithness, Scotland in August 1942 while serving in the Royal Air Force. Her elder brother Edward became the new Duke of Kent at barely seven years of age.
The princess grew up learning the role of a royal from the women closest to her: Queen Mary and Princess Marina. The dowager Duchess of Kent remained one of the most popular members of the royal family, and she performed her duties with aplomb. Queen Mary left a lasting impression about one’s deportment, discretion, and devotion to duty. Alexandra got the chance to flex her royal muscles when her cousin Elizabeth, who was crowned Queen in 1952, requested that she take on official responsibilities. This was due to the lack of female members of the family at that time; the only women were HM The Queen, the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Princess Marina, and a very young Princess Anne. Queen Mary was not seen in public as often after the death of King George V, and she died only a couple of months before Elizabeth’s coronation.
Princess Alexandra accompanied her mother Marina on tours around the world representing the Queen. In 1961, the princess undertook her first solo Commonwealth tour, visiting 22 towns and cities in Queensland, Australia
A Noble Marriage
Alexandra fell in love with the aristocratic Angus Ogilvy, who was eight years her senior. The princess met Ogilvy in 1955 during a ball at Luton Hoo, a manor house on a vast estate. Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of HRH Princess Alexandra in November 1962, much to the delight of the Royal Family. The Ogilvys were a noble Scottish family close to the Windsors – Angus’ grandmother Mabell was a Lady of the Bedchamber and a confidante of Queen Mary; Angus’ father was Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. On April 24th, 1963, the princess and the aristocrat married at Westminster Abbey. The Queen offered Ogilvy an Earldom upon marriage, but he refused. He remained the Honorable Angus Ogilvy. Alexandra retained her style of HRH Princess Alexandra, but was now officially known as the Honorable Mrs. Angus Ogilvy.
Angus of Airlie
Angus James Bruce Ogilvy was born in London on September 14th, 1928. He was the second son of the 12th Earl of Airlie and his wife, Lady Alexandra Coke.
Angus spent much of his childhood at Cortachy Castle, the Scottish estate held by the Ogilvys for over 700 years. He was educated at Eton and did his National Service in the Scots Guards. Ogilvy then went to Trinity College, Oxford where he read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.
As the second son, the family estates would not pass to Angus but to his elder brother, David. After graduating from Trinity College, Angus went to London to begin his independent career in finance. He started out working for Harold Drayton, a man who had a legendary financial career. Angus built a reputation as a hard working and reliable man, and in due course he became chairman of the investment trusts of his boss’ Drayton Group.
Despite his clean reputation, Angus became embroiled in a controversy over the mining company Lonrho (London Rhodesian Mining and Metals Company). After a 1961 visit to South Africa, Ogilvy persuaded Roland “Tiny” Rowland to join Lonhro and help build up the company. Under Rowland’s leadership, the firm grew far from being a simple mining company and became a worldwide conglomerate. A decade later, eight Lonrho directors called for Rowland’s dismissal, claiming in High Court proceedings that he had concealed financial information from the board. Lonrho was also accused of violating sanctions imposed on Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) in the mid-1960s.
Ogilvy claimed that he knew nothing in the reports of Rowland’s dealings. Ogilvy was criticized of being “negligent” by the Department of Trade and he resigned from 16 of his directorships, the first being Lonrho. In the end, he was cleared of wrongdoing, but the taint of Lonrho would linger for many years.
The Second Generation
Angus and Alexandra had two children: James, born February 29th, 1964 and Marina, born July 31st, 1966. Both James and Marina were born and raised in Thatched House Lodge, Richmond Park, Surrey. James attended Eton College and the University of St. Andrews. Marina went to the buttoned-down St. Mary’s school in Oxfordshire. Life was relatively quiet for this branch of the Kent clan. Without titles, the Ogilvy children didn’t have to contend with the stress that some of the more visible members of the family dealt with on a daily basis. Marina, however, would soon find herself in a media firestorm.
James became a settled young man with a happy marriage in 1988; Marina became the wild-child, dating a string of unsavory characters. According to an old school friend, “Once Marina said to me, after she had been out with one particularly unsuitable man, ‘Yes, I know he is quite hopeless, but can you imagine what my parents would make of him?’ I got the impression she got a bit of a kick out of that.”
After a whirlwind romance in 1989 with photographer Paul Mowatt, Marina discovered she was pregnant. They married in February 1990, just a few months before the birth of daughter Zenouska. Marina did not wear a traditional white gown, opting instead for a black dress and red velvet bolero jacket. Angus walked her down the aisle.
The Mowatts’ son Christian was born three years later on June 4th. Angus, Alexandra, and the rest of the royals were delighted with another child in the family. Both Christian and Zenouska were educated at St George’s School, a coeducational independent Preparatory School located at Windsor Castle.
Paul and Marina remained married for seven years, but not without acrimony. The pair divorced in December 1997 after rumors of many vicious arguments. However, despite a very public divorce they are now on better terms, sharing the cost of bills and the care of their children. Marina, Christian, and Zenouska currently live in a house in Windsor Great Park where Paul often visits them.
Marina’s brother James has had a relatively quieter life, married since 1988 to Julia Rawlinson. James has had a long career in business, starting his own luxury-brands business newsletter called “Luxury Briefing” in 2000. Julia started out in the public relations department of the royal jeweler Garrard and went on to become a successful managing director of the upmarket jeweler Hamilton & Inches.
Their two children, Flora and Alexander, are now 15 and 13 years old respectively. In 1999, tragedy befell close friends of the Ogilvys and caused Julia to reflect on her life and her children. Being a high-powered public relations woman suddenly no longer held much glamour for her, and Julia instead chose to stick close to Alexander and Flora. She also sold her stock in Hamilton & Inches and started ProjectScotland, a charity which allows young people to fulfill their potential through volunteering and public service.
After putting the Lonrho ordeal behind him, Ogilvy moved on to become a director of Sotheby’s. He also devoted himself to his charitable causes and supported Princess Alexandra in her duties. Angus was, in royal tradition, a patron of many organizations including the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Youth Clubs UK, and chairman of the advisory council of The Prince’s Trust.
In 1989 Angus was created a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order for his work. He was then known as Sir Angus Ogilvy, KCVO and Alexandra became the Honorable Lady Ogilvy. In 1997 Her Majesty’s government appointed Angus to the Privy Council, which reinforced that his dignified services to the Crown were indispensable.
As time went on, Angus’ health began to fail. He had fallen prey to the effects of smoking, which had claimed the lives of many royals before him. In January 2002, it was announced that Ogilvy had cancer of the esophagus. The public realized how serious it was when he canceled all of his public engagements. Angus could not even accompany Alexandra to Princess Margaret’s funeral the next month.
The following year Ogilvy suffered a heart attack. It weakened him greatly, but he made a tremendous effort to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations that summer. Thin and tired, the brave Scot smiled and waved to the crowds.
Sadly, Angus succumbed to his illness on Boxing Day 2004. The Royal Family gathered at St. George’s Chapel that January to pay tribute. His coffin, draped in a Union flag, was carried into St George’s Chapel by members of the Scots Guards, Sir Angus’ former regiment.
Though the lives of the Ogilvys are entwined with royalty, they have always been a normal family that went through many of the typical pains that families do. The love between Alexandra and Angus, and between them and their children, proved the test of time and trial.