We’ve discussed this a bit on social media, but felt the occasion
presented an opportunity for some snark would make a good blog post.
Alexandra Knatchbull, daughter of Lord Brabourne, great-granddaughter of Lord Mountbatten, and goddaughter of Diana, Princess of Wales, was married last weekend in what was described as “the society wedding of the year.” The wedding was covered by the press probably mostly because Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the British, Spanish, Greek and Jordanian royal families were guests.* The Prince of Wales gave away the bride as Lord Brabourne, one of the Prince’s best friends, was unable to do so due to illness, or at least that’s the official line.
None of the press coverage of the wedding seems to have picked up the most important fact for Janeites–that the bride is descended from Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight. Edward’s daughter Fanny’s son Edward Knatchbull, a British politician, was raised to the peerage as the first Baron Brabourne. The current Lord Brabourne is his great-great grandson, and thus the bride is Jane Austen’s sixth great-niece (we think that’s right). The present Lord Brabourne’s mother, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, is a peer in her own right (her title was passed down from her father, a very unusual thing), and Lord Brabourne is the presumptive heir of that title, meaning eventually he will become Earl Mountbatten of Burma, a title that supersedes the Brabourne barony. The Mountbattens are descended from Queen Victoria via Princess Alice, Victoria’s second daughter, Countess Mountbatten’s great-grandmother. If you have ever read Brabourne’s edition of Austen’s letters, you will know that, while proud of his famous great-aunt, he also was rather a snob (a trait inherited from Mummy, no doubt), and spent an awful lot of time going on about the greatness of his family in footnotes and section introductions. No doubt he would have been over the moon if he could have known his descendants have become so closely affiliated with royalty.
The Telegraph gives all the dish on the current Lord Brabourne, who reportedly is estranged from his family due to an affair with one Jeannie McWeeny. Pardon us while we fall off our chair laughing. The Daily Fail says more diplomatically that “relations between Lord Brabourne and Alexandra are said to be strained.” We are not sure if that had anything to do with his lordship’s alleged medical inability to give away his daughter. While the first Lord Brabourne would have approved and applauded the fact that his third great-granddaughter was given away by the Prince of Wales, we are pretty sure that Aunt Jane would not have approved of her fifth great-nephew’s shenanigans.
The bride’s gown was simple and flattering to her figure. We especially like the interesting gathers on the sleeves and the A-line styling, though we are not sure what is going on with the horizontal seam across her Queen Marys. The bride wore her family tiara, the Mountbatten Star Tiara. While we appreciate the history of the tiara, we are not overly fond of star tiaras. (Yes, the Editrix is a tiara connoisseur. Her Majesty owns our favorite of all time.)
They look really happy, though, and seem like a sweet couple. We wish them all the best. “It is settled between us already, that we are to be the happiest couple in the world.”
*Why Spain and Greece, which on the surface seems kind of random? Lord Mountbatten’s sister, born Princess Alice of Battenberg, married a younger son of the Greek royal family and also was the Duke of Edinburgh’s mother. Queen Sofia of Spain was born a princess of Greece and Denmark before the Greek royal family was deposed. They really are all related. The Jordanians are horsey, and so is Lady Brabourne, so that’s probably why they were there.
3 thoughts on “Jane and Her Majesty”
Ah, I knew we could count on the Editrix for a full discussion of this event from all angles, both Janeite and Royalist. The consensus among my cohorts was that the stars in the tiara sort of got lost in the veil, but that the gown was simple and becoming. (Unfortunately, I myself was sharing your delight in the name “Jeannie McWeeny” to such an extent that I was unable to provide a coherent opinion on the fashion scene.)
Also, as the Editrix doubtless knows, Edith Lank owns a set of the Brabourne letters that was heavily annotated by Fanny Caroline Lefroy–giving versions of several events from the POV of the James Austen branch of the family. See Edith’s articles in Persuasions On-Line 29.1 and Persuasions 30.
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I was at Edith’s breakout on her book! She also passed around a JA signature, which occasioned much swooning. Here’s a link to her article in Persuasions On-Line. We are apparently in agreement about Brabourne’s editorial commentary to the Letters: “Lord Brabourne clearly enjoyed including his own long and discursive family history along with the letters.” She said it rather more nicely than I did. I’ve been working on and off (mostly off) for a few years now on digitizing the letters for Molland’s and it’s pretty time-consuming, so all his nattering on about his family (if memory serves there’s an entire appendix, none of which has to do with Jane Austen) is really tiresome.
Jeanie McWeeny tee hee hee hee heeeeee
Lady Brabourne could play Charlotte Collins adequately.
Re. Jeanie McWeeny – when I said it aloud, my son, sitting nearby, asked, “Is that a stage name?”
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