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Royal Pictures from History: Princess Marina’s final Wimbledon

A picture can tell a story all of its own and some images take on a resonance that lasts beyond the moment they were made. In this occasional series, Royal Central looks at some of the pictures that have told the royal tale and examines the story behind them. Today, it’s a poignant moment when a popular royal tradition actually became a final farewell. Here is a look at the last finals weekend at Wimbledon attended by Princess Marina.

The Picture – the All England Tennis Club, July 5th 196

Embed from Getty Images

The story

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent had been presenting the trophies at Wimbledon for years when she stepped on to Centre Court to hand over the Venus Rosewater Dish to Billy Jean King who had just claimed the Ladies’ Singles title for the third time. She was president of the All England Tennis Club and her involvement there went far beyond her regular appearances at the end of the famous Wimbledon tournament where she always presented the prizes.

Just days after the end of the 1968 event, Princess Marina was taken to the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases where she was treated after experiencing discomfort in her leg. By the middle of July her doctors had diagnosed an inoperable brain tumour. Her health began to decline rapidly.

What happened next

Princess Marina died in her sleep at 11.40am on August 27th 1968 with her three children – the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and Prince Michael of Kent – at her bedside. Her condition had deteriorated quickly in the hours before she passed away and her death. The Queen, who was on holiday at Balmoral at the time her aunt died asked for all flags on royal buildings to be flown at half mast as a tribute.

Princess Marina had been a hugely popular member of the Royal Family since her 1934 marriage to George, Duke of Kent who had died in a plane crash in 1942. Tributes poured in from around the world.

Princess Marina’s funeral took place on August 30th 1968 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor and she was buried at Frogmore alongside her late husband. The funeral would be the last royal event attended by the Duke of Windsor who travelled from France to pay tribute to his sister-in-law.

Following Marina’s death, her role at Wimbledon was taken by her son, the Duke of Kent, who still presents the trophies today. It is a poignant link to his mother who so loved the tournament and who, like all those watching, can have had no idea that her happy days on its famous courts in 1968 would actually be a farewell.

About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.