Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Duchess of Abercorn 1946-2018

Her Grace The Duchess of Abercorn, descendant of the Russian Tsars, close friend of the Duke of Edinburgh, died in London, 10 December, 2018. She was 72.

She was born Alexandra Anastasia Phillips, 27 February, 1946, in Arizona, the eldest daughter of Lt-Col Harold Pedro Joseph Phillips (1909-80), of Checkenden Court, Reading, by his wife the former Georgina Wernher, a great friend of the Queen, daughter of Sir Harold Wernher, 3rd Baronet, of Luton Hoo, by his wife Countess Anastasia (Zia) de Torby, daughter of HIH Grand Duke Michael of Russia.

Zia Wernher was granted by Royal Warrant, 1 Sept, 1917, the style and precedence of the daughter of an Earl. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh shared the racing interests of Lady Zia, and for a number of years they celebrated their wedding anniversary at Luton Hoo.

Alexandra’s father, Harold Phillips, was a cousin of Janet Mercedes Bryce, who married the 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven, best man at the wedding of the Queen and Prince Philip.

Sarah Bradford in her biography of the Queen states that Sacha Abercorn was Earl Mountbatten of Burma’s ‘favourite goddaughter.’ Her godmother was Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.

Alexandra, known as Sacha, had one brother, Nicholas, a year her junior, who inherited Luton Hoo, the Wernher family seat in Bedfordshire, and committed suicide in 1991.

She had three sisters, Fiona, Marita and Natalia. The youngest of the sisters married, in 1979, Gerald Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster.

She married 20 October, 1966, in the presence of the Queen, James Hamilton, styled Marquess of Hamilton, who was born in 1934, and succeeded his father in 1979 as 5th Duke of Abercorn.

The duke was a Lord Steward of the Household to the Queen, and appointed a Knight of the Garter in  1999.

The Duchess’s home was Barons Court, County Tyrone. She is survived by the duke, and by two sons and a daughter.

The private funeral will be followed by a memorial service in the Spring of 2019.

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