A couple of years ago, I was sitting on my sister’s couch on a lazy Sunday morning. I was scrolling through Twitter and read a Tweet from Canadian/American writer Nicole Cliffe and audibly gasped. Not one of those gasps that you can pretend is something else. One of the dramatic, Real Housewives gasps.
My sister looked at me, concerned. “Oh my god, what happened?”
I looked at her, deadly serious. “There’s a rumour going around that Will cheated on Kate.”
My sister said, “Oh no, that’s crazy” with the dramatic flourish of someone taking your order at Starbucks, and went back to her Sunday morning. But I was fixated. I needed to know more. And that’s what started the deep dive.
I think this story would have been much bigger if it had happened outside the Meghan and Harry era. But because it happened when it did (less than a year after Harry and Meghan’s wedding, two months before the arrival of Archie), it was sort of swept under the rug. I think this was also a result of Will and Kate cashing in a lot of favours from UK media that they had been saving for a big scandal. This one was it.
But with most things when it comes to the Cambridges, it rolled off them. You might have even missed it when it happened! So I’m going to give you the down-low here and you can be informed/make up your own mind on what the truth is. Regardless of if the cheating part is true, the cast of characters is fun! Nobility! Stately houses! Twins being born and only one inheriting the main title! Keep reading for some royal drama.
Let’s take it back to the beginning. In March 2019, a rumour popped up in the UK tabloid The Sun about Kate Middleton breaking off a friendship with one of the aristocratic women who live near Will and Kate’s country home, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk. Anmer Hall was a wedding gift to Will and Kate from Queen Elizabeth. It’s very pretty and I would like to be the female lead of a Christmas romance movie that is set there. Hallmark or Lifetime, please call me.
This story about Kate wanting to distance herself from a friend was really strange, because usually Kate’s friend circle (and the goings on within it) are kept well under wraps. There are very few leaks from the Cambridge crew and those associated with it. The story was vague and centred around the breakdown of a friendship between Kate and Rose Hanbury. This is Rose Hanbury:
Rose Hanbury is also known by her aristocratic title, which is Marchioness of Cholmondeley. If you look at the hat that Rose is wearing in the above photo, of course her title is Marchioness of Cholmondeley. What else could it have been? You have that title, you buy that hat. It’s simple logic.
Rose Hanbury, Marchioness of Cholmondeley is a British socialite. She’s 36 years old. She hasn’t had a lot of “regular people” jobs, but she did a little modelling with the agency that discovered Kate Moss and performed research assistant duties for a Conservative MP for a short time.
Rose acquired her marchioness title by marrying David Colmondeley, Marquess of Cholmondeley. She is 36 years old and he is 60 years old (!). They announced their engagement in June of 2009, when Rose was 25 and David was 49 (!). One day later, they were married (!!!!!!). One! Day! Later!!!!!! Rose went from being a commoner to being a marchioness – that’s one level below duke/duchess. It’s like Bridgerton but in real life.
To make it more soap opera-y, Rose gave birth to twin boys, the firstborn of whom became the next heir to the Cholmondeley line. And the Cholmondeleys are rich. Like, David inherited around $150 million and a massive estate when he became Marquess in 1990. This is Rose and David’s house near Will and Kate’s country house in Norfolk. It’s called Houghton Hall. I would also be available to fall in love with someone there and have Lifetime or Hallmark document it, if there is ever a need.
Is Shonda Rhimes writing the story of Rose Hanbury’s life?! I would watch it!
To make the story of the Cholmondeleys even more cinematic, Rose’s husband David is also Lord Great Chamberlain of the United Kingdom, which means that he is one of the most senior officers in the UK for the handling of formal and ceremonial tasks. When Queen Elizabeth dies and Prince Charles’s coronation happens, David will play a big part in it. Rose also comes from royal/royal-adjacent stock: her grandmother was one of Queen Elizabeth’s bridesmaids at her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947. They’re fancy, is what I’m saying. And their positions in London/royal society, combined with their living a few miles away from Will and Kate’s country home, means that they are quite close with the Cambridges.
Here is David escorting a guest to a UK/United States State Dinner at Buckingham Palace in his role as Lord Great Chamberlain of the United Kingdom.
At the same state dinner, here are Kate and Rose (Rose didn’t get to walk in the formal procession – she is just walking in with a UK politician’s wife).
Now, back to when the stories started. In March 2019, The Sun reported in an article that Kate had asked Prince William to “phase out” Rose and David, the Cholmondeleys, from their social circle. The article claimed that Kate and Rose had become “rural rivals” (lol) (can you imagine calling people who live in these houses “rural?????”). There were no concrete reasons given in any of the stories, but speculation began to grow that the rift was because of an alleged affair between Rose and Will. No one has confirmed this, and neither Rose/David nor Will/Kate have given statements or pursued legal action. They have followed the royal rule of “never complain, never explain” to the letter, and the story mostly went away in terms of official media outlets.
But on Twitter, there was lots of gossip about the feud and the reason for it. Someone asked Giles Coren, a British food writer and TV host, if he had heard anything about the rumours in his upper-crust London circles. He tweeted the following and then promptly deleted it (but not before screenshots were taken):
I don’t have the time to get into the comment about “jews”, not least about the fact that Coren, who is himself Jewish, seems to imply negative stereotypes about his own religion and culture. Someone should talk about it because it’s a fascinating and sad snapshot of the state of religion, culture, and status in high-society London and the UK generally. Anyway. The point is that Coren seemingly confirmed that everyone in circles that associate with the Cambridges and Cholmondeleys knew that an affair was happening.
Nicole Cliffe, the Canadian/American writer whose Tweets about the issue I’d seen while scrolling, also laid out a theory about the Rose/Will/Kate rumours: that Will cheating on Kate with Rose was what actually caused the rift between Harry and Will.
Harry and Kate have been close for years – he considers her a sister and it makes sense that he would defend her if he felt that his brother had messed things up/disrespected her in any way. I believe that if this cheating happened, Harry would have blown up at Will about it. It makes sense.
So the questions to take away from this are:
- Did Will have an affair with Rose Hanbury, Marchioness of Cholmondeley?
- Did Kate ask that Rose and David be removed from their social circle because of it?
- Will Charles’s coronation be awkward because Rose’s husband David will be involved with it? (Yes!)
- Is the Will/Rose rumour what actually broke Will and Harry’s close relationship apart?
- Or was it totally do with Will saying that Harry should take it slow with Meghan? Or is it a combination of the two things?
- (I hate to ask this, but) Did Harry leak the story about Rose and Kate to the papers to get a reprieve on stories about him and Meghan?
- Where would you rather live, Anmer Hall or Houghton Hall? (I pick Houghton!)
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