keeping up with the royals

What Exactly Is a ‘Marchioness’ of ‘Cholmondeley’?

A “Marchioness” of “Cholmondeley”. Photo: Shutterstock

When we are children, we are taught that sequences of letters, strung together, form words, and that words have meaning, and their meaning shapes the world around us. Then, you get older, the bright sheen of youthful innocence wears away, and you learn that words mean nothing, life is chaos, and the name “Cholmondeley” is actually, against all odds and logic, pronounced “Chumley.”

Please stop shouting, it’s true. And strap yourself in, because things just get more baffling from here.

If you have been following British royal gossip recently, you have likely stumbled across this absolutely bananas name, because there are rumors that Prince William allegedly stepped out on Kate Middleton with Rose Hanbury, pictured up there, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley. (Prince William’s lawyers have reportedly been sending threatening letters to suppress rumors of the affair.)

Marchioness of Cholmondeley.



Okay. Rose, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, is married to David Rocksavage (!), the Marquess of Cholmondeley. According to the British tabloid the Sun, Kate had a falling out with Rose, and told William she had to be “phased out” of their social circle, which is known as the Turnip Toffs.



I know. Again, please stop shouting, I will break it down for you.

What is a “Marchioness” and how do I pronounce it?

A Marchioness is the wife or widow of a Marquess, which is an aristocratic title just below Duke (the title William and Prince Harry hold).

It is NOT pronounced “mark-ee-on-ess,” as I said in my head the first time I saw the word. It is pronounced “marsh-on-ess”. Sure, why not.

Okay, but how do you really pronounce Cholmondeley?

Although it looks like it should be pronounced “Chol-mon-delay”, it is in fact pronounced “Chumley.”

Why … ?

It’s unclear. Some suggest the pronunciation of the name shortened over time because of simple laziness, or maybe it’s that repressed British aristocrats could only exercise their creativity by adding unnecessary letters to their names.

Are the Cholmondeleys important?

In royal circles, yes. David is the Lord Great Chamberlain, a largely ceremonial position that means he has charge over the Palace of Westminster, and sits in the House of Lords. Also, he has to wear this outfit.

(Unrelated to his role as a Marquess, David Rocksavage was previously a filmmaker, and in 1995 he directed a film adaptation of Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms, and later he directed a movie called Shadows in the Sun, which starred a pre-50 Shades of Grey Jamie Dornan.)

And who are the Turnip Toffs?

The Turnip Toffs are a bunch of extremely wealthy, aristocratic friends who live out in the country and get together to hang out and, I presume, discuss horse breeding and the best way to hang a medieval tapestry in your dining hall. They are called the Turnip Toffs because they own so much farmland in the British countryside, and “toff” is a British slang for rich snobs.

Both William and Kate and the Cholmondeleys are in the Turnip Toffs, which makes this whole situation awkward. Imagine how uncomfortable it will be when everyone shows up to the next big polo match together, oh no.

I feel, somehow, like I know less than before.

I understand. Take heart in knowing life is meaningless, reality is a construct, and we’re all living in a simulation anyway.


What Exactly Is a ‘Marchioness’ of ‘Cholmondeley’?