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Lady Rose Hanbury: Who is the Marchioness of Cholmondeley?

Sarah Rose Cholmondeley, Marchioness of Cholmondeley, has been widely hailed for her style over the years, drawing praise for her ensembles at events including the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The former model, 39, was once a researcher for Conservative MP Michael Gove, but now spends her time managing the estate of her husband, David Rocksavage, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley.

The couple live with their three children – twins Alexander Hugh George Cholmondeley, Earl of Rocksavage, and Lord Oliver Timothy George Cholmondeley, both 15, and daughter Lady Iris Marina Aline Cholmondeley, aged eight – at Houghton Hall, a Grade I-listed stately home in Norfolk.

Built for Britain’s first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, in the 1720s, Houghton Hall is set in extensive parkland that is known for its white fallow deer, and also boasts a walled garden and sumptuously decorated interiors by famed English architect William Kent. It is a stone’s throw from Anmer Hall, the home of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Lady Cholmondeley first met Lord Cholmondeley, 23 years her senior, while on holiday in Italy in 2003. They announced their engagement six years later, one day before a quiet ceremony at Chelsea Town Hall in 2009.

She was born to Timothy Hanbury, a website designer, and Emma Hanbury, a fashion designer. Her links to the royal family go back generations: her maternal grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Lambert, was one of eight bridesmaids to the late Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding to the Duke of Edinburgh.

 (Dave Benett/Getty Images for Chris Levine)
(Dave Benett/Getty Images for Chris Levine)

Educated at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, where annual tuition fees are around £38,000 for boarders, she was signed to top modelling agency Storm, famous for discovering Kate Moss, when she was 23. She once made tabloid headlines in 2005, after being photographed on holiday with her younger sister, Marina, and Tony Blair.

She had a brief stint working for Michael Gove but left after giving birth to her two sons.

Lady Cholmondeley rarely gives interviews, but opened up about life at the vast 106-room estate in April last year with The English Home, where she admitted that it had taken her a while to feel comfortable in the imposing surroundings.

“Moving anywhere feels awkward at first, and it took me a while to adjust and feel at home,” she said. “We use the ground floor, and the second and third floors, where the bedrooms are. The first floor is mainly occupied by the State Rooms. I don’t know how many rooms we have in total.”

She added: “Of course, a house changes as you add a family. Family life brings a new dimension and some things need to adapt. One of the first things I did was to add a family kitchen.

“I wanted it to be very cosy and relaxed, so it has a fireplace, a television, a big sofa, and we can cook and eat there. Prior to that it was all very functional, and David and I had to eat in the dining room every night. Adding a family kitchen has allowed us to live in a much more informal way.”

The house is “very much as it was” in the 1720s, she said, which is “a testament to the incredible care that the house has received from its former occupants and David’s family”.

Asked about the challenges of managing such a huge estate, Lady Cholmondeley said it was a case of “constantly keeping an eye on things” and seeking expert advice, which she takes “great pride and care” in doing.

“My husband has a great deal of knowledge,” she said. “And we have a fantastic team which is absolutely instrumental in keeping everything going. It’s an endless project – there are always things to conserve, preserve and restore. We have lots of specialists who come to advise. You get to meet a lot of experts and learn so much over the years.”

She appears to run the Houghton Hall Instagram account, and occasionally shares photos of her husband and their children while enjoying the grounds and gardens.

In recent years, she has been the subject of attention due to her glamorous outfits at royal occasions, including at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in 2017, where she was seated next to Prince Harry.

Rose Hanbury (left) and Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine arrive at the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, London, on day one of US President Donald Trump's three day state visit to the UK in 2019 (PA)
Rose Hanbury (left) and Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine arrive at the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, London, on day one of US President Donald Trump's three day state visit to the UK in 2019 (PA)

She also attended the coronation in May last year of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, where she wore a white dress with bold black detailing and a black bow at the neck, paired with a veiled headband, bow heels, drop diamond earrings and a matching brooch.

Her son, Lord Oliver, was a Page of Honour, while her husband was appointed Lord-in-Waiting to King Charles.

Last year, she made headlines after it was reported that she encouraged her close friend, Kate Middleton, to attend a music festival held at Houghton Hall, after they had dinner together at the estate.

She also works for a number of charities, including the East Anglia Children’s Hospice.