Described most frequently as a ‘beguiling socialite’, the willowy Rose Hanbury, Marchioness of Cholmondeley, has always commanded attention. As a renowned society Beauty and former model with an impeccably aristocratic pedigree, there were no shortage of suitors for her hand including, it was once rumoured, a young Prince William.
That the honour eventually fell to charismatic David Rocksavage, the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley – a wealthy Old Etonian 23 years her senior – may have raised a few eyebrows on the London scene, particularly when they married just two days after announcing not only their engagement but that Rose was pregnant with twins.
But there is little doubt that the family, which now includes nine-year-old twins Alexander and Oliver, and Iris, three, are today the toast of their North Norfolk enclave.
Rose Hanbury, 35, Marchioness of Cholmondeley, is pictured with William and Kate at a gala dinner in support of East Anglia's Children's Hospices Nook appeal
Ms Hanbury is married to David Rocksavage (pictured left together), the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley – a wealthy Old Etonian 23 years her senior. She came to public attention in 2005 after the publication of a racy photograph showing her (pictured right with her sister) in matching skimpy pink bikinis flanking then-Prime Minister Tony Blair
Rose attended the royal couple's wedding and, together with husband David, the four have gone on several double dates (pictured)
They are part of a band of so-called ‘Turnip Toffs’, a party-loving set with bigger homes than the Royals. Fellow members include William’s close friends William and Rosie Van Cutsem, Tom and Polly Coke, the Earl and Countess of Leicester, neighbours at nearby Holkham Hall, and James and Laura Meade, who is a godmother to Prince Louis.
Rose has ‘always liked to defy convention’, according to friends. The tall, leggy and doe-eyed brunette, now 35, signed up to model agency Storm, the firm that was also home to Kate Moss, when she arrived on the London scene with elder sister Marina.
The sisters came to public attention in 2005 after the publication of a racy photograph showing them in matching skimpy pink bikinis flanking then-Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Their younger brother David is a financier in Hong Kong.
The trio were brought up at Wembury House, a Georgian manor house in Devon, by rather unconventional parents. Their father Tim is an Old Etonian website designer and part of the brewing dynasty Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co, and their mother is designer Emma, who owns and runs the Marosa fashion label. The couple were ‘more like friends than parents’, a friend of the family once noted.
‘It’s not unusual to see Timmy and Emma at [nightclub] Boujis with the girls.
‘Likewise, Marina and Rose are just as happy in the company of their parents’ friends as they are with their own age group.’
Rose (pictured with William and Kate in 2016) was also, at one stage, named as a potential contender for Prince William’s affections, although when they first met – and whether they ever became close prior to the Cambridge’s move to Norfolk – remains unclear
Rose's twin sons are playmates of Prince George and she is also a former model for the same agency that discovered Kate Moss
The family reportedly used to holiday together in Ibiza and ‘really knew how to throw a party’.
Wembury, which the family inherited in 1980, is an eclectic mix of vibrant colours, historic oil paintings and chintz. It has a pool, sweeping gardens with views to Dartmoor, and an elegant dining room draped with fairy lights.
A neighbour in Devon told a newspaper: ‘An invitation to Wembury is much coveted around here. One minute you’ll be talking to one of Emma’s bohemian friends, the next you’ll be talking to a feckless peer. Add to the mix a rock star or an actor and a couple of the girls’ leggy young friends and you get the picture.’
The sisters are certainly of thoroughbred stock. Emma’s mother Lady Elizabeth Longman was a childhood playmate of Queen Elizabeth, and a bridesmaid at her wedding to Prince Philip. The family hosts an annual cricket match where the guest list often includes Zac Goldsmith, Hugh Grant and Imran Khan.
But while Rose could have become a career socialite, she stepped into politics, working as an aide to Michael Gove, at the time Shadow Schools Secretary, while attending a host of glamorous London parties. She and Marina routinely featured on Tatler’s 100 Most Invited list.
Rose (pictured with husband David) has had a flock of aristocratic admirers. She was linked with Lord Freddie Windsor, Lord John Somerset and Lord Lambton’s grandson Fred, to whom she was rumoured to be engaged
Unsurprisingly, there have been a flock of aristocratic admirers. Rose was linked with Lord Freddie Windsor, Lord John Somerset and Lord Lambton’s grandson Fred, to whom she was rumoured to be engaged.
In fact, the families were so close that Fred’s father Ned, the Earl of Durham, later married Marina (again, with an age gap of 20 years between them).
Rose was also, at one stage, named as a potential contender for Prince William’s affections, although when they first met – and whether they ever became close prior to the Cambridge’s move to Norfolk – remains unclear. William was surrounded by a coterie of hair-flicking beauties, including Jecca Craig, Isabella Calthorpe and Olivia Hunt, both before his relationship with Kate and during the couple’s brief split in 2007.
William, at just two years older than Rose, may once have been considered a more realistic prospect than David.
Indeed, many believed playboy David might never marry. His party-loving friends included Hollywood actor Johnny Depp, rock star Mick Jagger and Peter Mandelson, and there were a string of high-profile flings with model and actress Lisa B, French film star Isabelle Adjani and heiress Sabrina Guinness.
But after meeting Rose at a party at Villa Cetinale, the Italian playground of the Lambton family, the stars finally aligned and they married at Chelsea Town Hall in 2009.
Rose’s parents did not bat an eyelid at their daughters’ unconventional relationships.
A family friend told a newspaper: ‘It’s not about what age they are, it’s about who they are – and by that I mean whether the person is right for their daughters. All they want is for them to be happy.’
And who wouldn’t be happy with such a match? In 1990, Lord Cholmondeley, a direct descendant of Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, inherited £118 million and two stately homes upon the death of his father, the sixth Marquess, and in doing so became ‘the greatest catch in England’.
The Marquess of Cholmondeley is 23 years the Marchioness's senior and they have three children together (pictured together)
He owns Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire but the family home is Norfolk’s Houghton Hall, a 106-room stately home in the Palladian style – constructed in the 1720s for Walpole himself – with a sculpture park, a five-acre walled garden and 1,000 acres of parkland. The Hall is rather more