George, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven
A 1924 portrait of George by society artist Philip de László
George was a very clever man, his brother Mountbatten said - "Georgie's brain power was astonishing". His brain was essentially a mathematical one, and he would read books on calculus and work out the most complicated mathematical problems in his head, much to the consternation of his fellow officers. Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952- ) said of him recalling her time at the wedding of Princess Marina, The Duchess of Kent, formerly Princess Marina of Greece & Denmark (1906-1968) in 1934 - "I only once talked to him for any length of time... when he found himself next to me at the wedding breakfast. But I don't think I have ever enjoyed a meal so much. He was one of the most intelligent and brilliant of people. He spoke to children just as if they were grown up." However George was not a great conversationalist and would often lag behind in the midst of a conversation. Soon his technical knowledge came to good use and he became the Managing Director and Chairman of The British Sperry Gyroscope Company, earning almost ten times his modest Naval pay. He also served as a Director of other companies such as Electrolux and retailer Marks & Spencer. On 6th November 1937, George was promoted on the Retired List to a Captain in the Royal Navy.
Nadejda (centre) with her two children David (left) and Tatiana (right)
at their home Lynden Manor, Holyport, Bray, Berkshire
George, Marquess of Milford Haven
in Naval uniform
George and Nadejda lived in Lynden Manor, Holyport, Bray, Berkshire - not far from Windsor Castle. Dating from the 13th Century, Lynden Manor passed through many owners over the years, including The Crown in the 15th Century. Originally moated, the property was largely demolished in 1846, not long after the moat had been filled in and rebuilt shortly after. Whilst living there, George became the guardian of his nephew - the young Prince Philip of Greece & Denmark, later The Duke of Edinburgh (b.1921). Philip's father - Prince Andrew of Greece & Denmark (1882-1944) was living in Monte Carlo with his mistress, while his mother - Princess Alice of Battenberg (1885-1969) was in an asylum following a nervous breakdown.
Nadejda, Marchioness of Milford Haven
In 1934, Nadejda became involved in scandal - involving the infamous high profile custody battle of Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (b.1924). The child was the daughter of Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt (1800-1925) and during the 1930s, her mother - Mrs Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt (1904-1965) and her aunt Mrs Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942) both sought custody of the child Gloria and control over her $5 million trust fund. During the trail it was alleged that Gloria's mother had been involved in a lesbian relationship with Nadejda. George's wife was forced to travel to New York to give evidence in the trial, stating that the allegations were "malicious, terrible lies." Gloria's mother (who lost custody) was the sister of Thelma, Viscountess Furneess (1904-1970), the one-time mistress of George's cousin 'David' - Prince Edward, The Prince of Wales, subsequently King Edward VIII (1894(1936)1972) and later The Duke of Windsor.
In December 1937, George fell over and broke his thigh. The bones refused to heal and he was in pain for many weeks and in late January 1938 he was diagnosed with bone cancer, but it was decided that he should not be informed of the details of his condition. His mother said - "it is a mystery how a hitherto healthy man, one in whose ancestors and relations there has been nothing of the kind can have developed this." His younger brother - Mountbatten, was in Jamaica captaining an English polo team in an international competition and wrote to their mother - "I can't get Georgie out of my mind night or day... and am utterly miserable and wretched to be prevented from returning at once... Mama dear, I've been just like a baby. I cry myself to sleep almost every night, a thing I haven't done since Papa died." George was moved to the Empire Nursing Home, Vincent Square, London and his mother spent many hours at his bedside, but despite amputation, being in constant pain and often becoming delirious, he remained cheerful until the end. At midday on 8th April 1938, George died aged 45yrs.
(left to right): David, Earl of Medina (later 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven) - acting as page to Nadejda, Marchioness of Milford Haven (seated)
& George, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven in Coronation Robers for the Coronation of King George VI in 1937
George's funeral procession -
led by David, Earl of Medina
later 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven
ABOVE: George's cousins -
King George VI and his brother -
Prince George, 1st Duke of Kent
walking in George's funeral procession
in full Naval uniform
Nadejda, Marchioness of Milford Haven
at her home in Cannes, France
A short film (limited audio) by British Movietone
about the funeral of George, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven
Following George's death, Nadejda spent most of her time in Cannes, France where she and George spent many holidays. Tatiana - their only daughter, who suffered from mental illness was left in the care of Nadejda's sister - Lady Anastasia 'Zia' Wernher, formerly Countess Anastasia de Torby (1892-1977). Their son David, succeeded as 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven and like his father and grandfather, joined the Royal Navy.
Nadejda - known as 'Nada', had lived a rather hedonistic life but widowhood brought almost relative seclusion. She died in Cannes, France on 22nd January 1963, aged 66yrs and was buried alongside her husband at Bray Cemetery, Bray, Berkshire, not far from their home - Lynden Manor.