The Truth About Rose Hanbury's Marriage To David Cholmondeley

When you think of great royal love stories, you probably don't think of David Cholmondeley and Rose Hanbury. More than likely, your mind goes to the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who were married for nearly 74 years. It's a love story for the ages — a royal marriage built on actual affection and devotion, rather than infidelity and beheadings (looking at you, Henry VIII).

Following the death of Her Majesty and the appointment of Prince Charles as King Charles III, all eyes were on the next in line to the throne, Prince William, as well as his wife, Princess Catherine. Young, attractive, and sporting modernized speeches highlighting inclusivity and mental health, these two are the future of the monarchy. But will the one-day king's marriage stand the test of time, just as his Gran's did? In the years since their wedding, they have since welcomed three children, and you could say it's been smooth sailing ever since — well, mostly. That's where Rose Hanbury and her husband come into the picture.

In 2019, tabloids began reporting that William had cheated on his wife, then pregnant with their third child, with Rose (via Vanity Fair). The little-known Marchioness of Cholmondeley (pronounced, "Chumley," for some reason), was first thrust into the spotlight in 2009, when she married the much-older David Cholmondeley, the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley. She has since found herself plagued by scandal — and on an international scale. While William and Catherine have presented a cool, united front, it seems Rose and David have yet to escape the PR hurricane. 

Before getting married, David was a ladies' man

David Cholmondeley was called "the greatest catch in England"  — maybe not by your average Londoner, but certainly by his fellow blue bloods (via Daily Mail). Upon his 30th birthday, the marquess inherited a jaw-dropping fortune that some have estimated as being as high as £112 million. To put that sum in perspective, that's more than his alleged romantic rival, Prince William, who is estimated to have a net worth of $100 million (roughly £89 million), according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Among David's inherited assets are 10,000 acres of land and a small collection of castles, including the sprawling Norfolk estate, Houghton Hall, and Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire. It's no wonder, then, that this "great catch" of the British aristocracy caught the eye of more than one glamorous, well-connected woman. According to the Daily Mail, David's high-profile girlfriends included French film star Isabelle Adjani and Irish heiress Sabrina Guinness – whom King Charles III also dated.

Rose was only 19 when she met David Cholmondeley

At only 19, Rose Hanbury made waves among her royal circle when she began dating the much-older David Cholmondeley. At the time, the marquess was 42 years old — only eight years younger than Rose's father. As British nobles are wont to do, the two partied the night away in Italy when they first met. 

Legend has it, their host and the owner of Villa Cetinale was none other than the disgraced Lord Lambton, a Conservative MP who had been run out of parliament years prior when photos surfaced of him smoking marijuana in bed with two sex workers (via Daily Mail). So, let's just say this Italian meet-cute probably wasn't exactly your grandmother's garden soirée.

Despite their large age gap, Rose captured playboy David's heart and soon convinced him to give up his life of womanizing. After six years of dating, the former ladies' man abandoned his life of bachelorhood for good and married his marchioness, Tatler reported.

The pair married almost immediately after announcing their engagement

Marriage and the baby carriage weren't too far off for this couple. Rose Hanbury and David Cholmondeley announced their engagement in June 2009 and, to the shock of high society, Rose's mother, Emma, announced that her daughter was pregnant with twins the very next day, according to The Telegraph. The two quietly wed the following day at Chelsea Town Hall in London with little fanfare. 

While Rose and David exchanged vows at the altar, news of their whirlwind few days was quickly making its way around the palatial estates and countryside homes of Britain. People were shocked by the couple's hasty marriage and pregnancy announcement. In less than a week, Rose Hanbury had gone from the much-younger girlfriend of Britain's "greatest catch" to the pregnant wife of the Marquess of Cholmondeley. 

While her family's opinion of David and their marriage is unknown, it may have very well been regarded as a scandal. After all, Rose's royal connections date back all the way to 1947, when, according to Hello! Magazine, Rose's grandmother was a bridesmaid for Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding to Prince Philip.

They chose a unique way to select an heir

Three months after their wedding, Rose Hanbury and David Cholmondeley welcomed twin boys, Alexander Hugh George, Earl of Rocksavage (nicknamed Xan) and Oliver Timothy George, Lord Cholmondeley. The twins arrived earlier than expected, refueling the rumors surrounding when exactly Rose had become pregnant. Thankfully, her sister rose to her defense ahead of the birth, telling the Daily Mail, "All twins arrive slightly prematurely, and that will be the case for Rose." 

When the two boys did make their appearance, the new parents were faced with the decision of choosing which of their sons would be named David's official heir and the 8th Marquess of Cholmondeley. Normally the title would be given to the first son to enter the delivery room, but Xan and Oliver arrived almost simultaneously via C-section. With little else to go on, Rose and David chose the next marquess based on who weighed more at birth, according to The Telegraph.

Oliver won out in the end. "There was only eight ounces in it, but they will be a very significant eight ounces," a family friend told The Telegraph. In March 2016, the couple welcomed a daughter, Lady Iris Marina Aline Cholmondeley.

There may be trouble in paradise

Despite their previous scandals, nothing prepared Rose Hanbury and David Cholmondeley for the international attention they would receive following the royal affair rumors. Both parties fiercely denied the allegations, with editor-at-large Richard Kay explaining in the Daily Mail that Rose and Catherine, Princess of Wales, were even considering taking legal action. However, he continued, "Because none of the reports have been able to offer any evidence about what the so-called dispute is about, they have chosen to ignore it." While Catherine had her royal engagements to distract her, Rose seemed to be suffering in the fallout of this PR nightmare. 

Friends report that she has been feeling "lonely" and "increasingly isolated." "People are worried about her," one source told the Irish Mail. "The most loyal friends are sticking by her but others, they haven't." The insider added, "On top of that, she has a husband who is away more than he is present. It has been a lonely time."

In 2019, the marchioness was spotted attending a Trump State Dinner sans wedding ring and in 2021, David was also spotted without his wedding ring (via New Idea). Of course, there are many reasons why Rose and David may choose not to wear their rings, but it doesn't prevent some from wondering if the stress of becoming tabloid fodder has torn this millionaire couple apart. For the tightlipped duo, only time will tell.