Rose Hanbury's Transformation: From Model To Marchioness Of Cholmondeley

Rose Hanbury has been turning heads recently, especially since "Kate-gate" became an international trend in 2024. With so much spotlight on the royal family and their inner circle, it's no wonder why Hanbury has become a part of the chatter. Not only has she been known to have a close friendship with Kate Middleton, but she's often been seen at ceremonious events for the royal family, leading the public to wonder where she sits on the ranks of royals in the United Kingdom.

Hanbury is known by her title of Marchioness of Cholmondeley, which classifies her as a British noblewoman. She is married to David Cholmondeley, the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, whose rank rests above an earl and below a duke. According to Highland Titles, a nobleman or noblewoman is a part of "a social class found in some societies which have a formal aristocracy." Members of the British nobility are part of an ancient lineage that used to have powerful influences in land ownership or government. Nowadays, their power is largely ceremonial, and they are considered ranked immediately under the royal family.

Hanbury's family has had ties within the royal family for decades, meaning she's no stranger to all the salacious gossip and rumors that permeate the Crown and the inner circle that surrounds it. Her life story has been picked apart by the relentless media, prompting questions about the Englishwoman's journey to becoming a Marchioness and where she stands with the royal family today. Grab a cup of English tea, because we're breaking down Rose Hanbury's transformation: From model to Marchioness of Cholmondeley.

She's in the royal family's inner circle

Rose Hanbury's family has had close ties to the royal family for decades. As per the Daily Mail (via Business Insider), the Marchioness of Cholmondeley's maternal grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Lambert, had been a close friend of the late Queen Elizabeth II ever since they were children. Lambert was even one of Queen Elizabeth II's bridesmaids during her wedding to Prince Phillip in 1947, one of two non-royals to be a part of such a prestigious event. 

Hanbury's ascension to Marchioness was undoubtedly helped by her strong connections to the royal family, which extend to her great-grandfather. The Marchioness' maternal great-grandfather, known by his title as the 10th Earl of Cavan, was also reportedly good friends with King George VI. This only solidified Queen Elizabeth II's relationship with Lambert, paving the way for Hanbury to be in such proximity to the Crown. 

Lambert ended up marrying publisher Mark Longman, with none other than Queen Elizabeth II in attendance on their wedding day. It's safe to say that without the strong connections to the British monarchy, Hanbury would have a tough time climbing the ladder to noble status. After all, it's not every day one runs into a Marquess at any old English pub. 

Rose Hanbury was a model

How exactly does one go from model to Marchioness? Just ask Rose Hanbury, who worked at the same modeling agency as the legendary Kate Moss while she was in her twenties. 

Hanbury first got her education at Stowe boarding school, one of England's most prestigious schools. Some of their alumni include Prince Rainier of Monaco, Richard Branson, and Prince Harry's ex-girlfriend Chelsea Davy, according to Buckinghamshire Live. After graduating from Stowe, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley went on to have a fairly normal college experience, electing to study at The Open University, the largest public research university in the U.K. 

After getting her undergraduate degree, Hanbury went on to become a model when she was 23 years old. She had a bit of momentum under her belt, especially after she gained widespread attention for being photographed in a pink bikini with then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair while on a family vacation in Italy. She went on to sign with Storm Models, as per Tatler, but not much is known about her former modeling career. She does, however, post throwbacks from time to time on Instagram, including a shoot she did with actor Amanda Seyfried for Vogue. 

She had a short career in politics

After her stint in modeling, Rose Hanbury shifted gears to work in politics. While it's unknown what the Marchioness studied at university, reports suggest that she may have pursued a degree in politics, which would make sense given her desire to work in the field. 

While the timeline of her work in Parliament isn't clear, Hanbury worked as a political researcher in Westminster for Michael Gove, one of the conservative members of Parliament. As per HuffPost, she worked for Gove (the then-shadow education minister), for six months before leaving her post in 2009. At the time, Hanbury was reportedly dealing with bouts of morning sickness due to her pregnancy with twins. 

While Hanbury seems to have left her political career in the past, she was spotted at the state dinner in 2019, which welcomed former President Donald Trump. She was seen walking with Michael Gove's wife, journalist Sarah Vine, at the event, which some believe may be a sign that she has continued to remain close to the couple, or has her own set of conservative beliefs.

Hanbury became the Marchioness of Cholmondeley

Rose Hanbury met her future husband, David Cholmondeley (known by his title as Marquess of Cholmondeley) when she was just a teenager. According to SheKnows, the two met while vacationing in Italy in 2003 (at the time, Hanbury was just 19 years old, 23 years younger than Cholmondeley). Cholmondeley has a long history with the royal family after being born into a wealthy British family, and he was appointed as a permanent Lord-in-Waiting to King Charles III following Queen Elizabeth II's death.

According to Vanity Fair, Hanbury and Cholmondeley's pairing caused quite a stir in England, especially when the two announced their engagement in 2009. At the time, Hanbury was already pregnant with twins, and the two quickly tied the knot days after at Chelsea Town Hall.

Despite the gossip, Cholmondeley spoke highly of his wife, telling Vanity Fair in 2013, "To do things together, with someone, rather than doing things here alone, as I was for many years, has been very exciting." The couple moved into Houghton Hall after their wedding, a sprawling mansion in Norfolk, England, just a few miles from Kate Middleton and Prince William's vacation home. Hanbury took a liking to her giant palace, and even put her touch on the place. "It's very nice to have someone to make decisions with, especially someone who has such wonderful taste as Rose," Cholmondeley told the publication. "We spark off each other. She has a younger eye and she loves the house. I'm so lucky."

She is a mother to three children

The year 2009 welcomed plenty of firsts for Rose Hanbury: a new husband, the title of Marchioness, as well as the birth of her twin sons, Alexander Hugh George Cholmondeley, Earl of Rocksavage, and Lord Oliver Timothy George Cholmondeley. 

Choosing the twin boys' ranking proved to be a challenge, however, as it is generally the first-born male to take the title of heir in British nobility. As per The Telegraph, the new parents decided to choose the heir based on which boy weighed the most, as the two were born practically at the same time through cesarean section. Ultimately, Lord Oliver Timothy George Cholmondeley took the title, after weighing in at a very prestigious 8 ounces more than his brother. 

Hanbury and her husband also became parents to their third child, a daughter named Lady Iris Marina Aline Cholmondeley, in 2016. While their children are largely kept out of the public eye, they are seen from time to time at events involving the royal family. Lord Oliver made a special appearance during King Charles III's coronation, however, assuming the role of one of the monarch's Pages of Honor alongside Prince William and Kate Middleton's eldest son, Prince George.

Hanbury was rumored to have had an affair with Prince William

Rose Hanbury had a bit of a thorn in her side — pun intended — when she became the center of rumors regarding an alleged affair between her and Prince William. The gossip began in 2019 after several reports claimed that William may have been stepping out on Middleton with his Norfolk neighbor. While Hanbury and her husband had been friends with the royal couple for years, a source told In Touch (per The Daily Beast) that "Kate sees their friendship in an entirely different light now," adding that the controversy "has rocked the palace and their marriage." 

Hanbury remained quiet over the scandal at the time, but a source for Kensington Palace quickly denied there being any romantic relationship between Prince William and the Marchioness. "[The story] was totally wrong and false," said insiders close to the royal family.  Speculation of the alleged affair came after Hanbury and Middleton had already been pitted against each other, with The Sun running a story in March of 2019 (via Elle) that the two had had a falling out, dubbing Hanbury the "rural rival."

Despite the rumors being shut down quickly by those close to the Crown, suspicion had already crept in about Middleton and Prince William's marriage. "Kate finds the rumors hurtful, obviously, and hates the thought that one day her children will be able to read about them online," an insider told Us Weekly at the time, adding that the pair are "determined to pull through it."

Rumors about her involvement with Prince William resurfaced during 'Kate-gate'

Ever since Kate Middleton's mysterious abdominal surgery in 2024, the public has been left with more questions than answers about the Princess' wellbeing. While Kensington Palace has assured the media that Middleton is doing well, dozens of conspiracy theories have been propagating since Middleton's lack of public appearances. One of which is a resurfacing of Rose Hanbury's alleged affair with Prince William, which led the Marchioness to make a statement over the ordeal. 

The controversy was ignited again when Stephen Colbert mentioned Hanbury in the opening monologue of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" in March of 2024 (via X, formerly known as Twitter). "The Kingdom has been all aflutter about the seeming disappearance of Kate Middleton," Colbert said. "Well now, internet sleuths are guessing that Kate's absence may be related to her husband, and the future King of England, William, having an affair," he added, mentioning Hanbury by name.

Kensington Palace didn't respond to requests for comment over the rumors, but Hanbury decided to speak up, five years after she originally remained quiet on the subject. "The rumors are completely false," she said in a statement through her lawyers (via Business Insider). Despite her denying the gossip, social media lit up with more conspiracies, including a potential secret Hanbury-Prince William love child. "The streets are saying Kate had a nervous breakdown during Xmas bc she found out Will's mistress, Rose Hanbury, is pregnant with his child and she's keeping it," one user tweeted. Kensington Palace, can you break down this piping-hot tea?

She continues to be an ally of the Crown

Rose Hanbury has been an ally of the British monarchy for years, and it doesn't seem like that will change anytime soon. Not only is she a British noblewoman and an ally to the Crown, but she has proved she is part of the royal family's inner circle for over a decade. From Queen Elizabeth II's funeral to King Charles III's coronation, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley has consistently been in attendance at several mandatory royal family events.

Hanbury's denial of the rumors about her alleged affair with Prince William seems to solidify that she's on the side of the monarchy. A source also claimed that any claims of a feud between Middleton and Hanbury are a false narrative, given the deep family history between the Marchioness and the royal family. "There has never been any enmity between Kate and Rose. The rumors were all a load of rubbish. The family are ancient allies of the Crown and they will be there," an insider told The Daily Beast in 2023. While rumors of an affair may be false, we can't help but wonder how this would play out on a season of "The Crown."