February 18, 2010

It’s hardly rare for social climbers on one side of the Atlantic to claim connections with part of the elite on the other side. We had in the UK just recently some no name from flyover country insisting that he was a Rockefeller. Managed to keep that one going for a decade or so. However, things don’t always work out that well which is what interests me in this report about a model and party girl in Manhattan called Kashmir Snowdon-Jones.

No, not what she’s alleged to have done, rather, what the background is alleged to be:

Kashmir, currently represented by Nous Model Management, is the daughter of British architect David Snowdon-Jones. She is the former stepdaughter of socialite Emma Snowdon-Jones.
Her father traces his lineage back to Lord Snowdon, a famous photographer who was married to Princess Margaret and sits in the House of Lords.

Fascinating stuff for those of us who understand the British aristocracy.

The blond beauty, whose family claims to be descended from British bluebloods…

Bluebloods eh? As someone who has worked with an Earl, a Baron, and a Life Baron; shared an apartment with an Hon; and once stole a girlfriend off a Viscount (although that last of that inferior, Irish, aristocracy it is true, and, err, she left me for the heir to a Marquessate)”€”if I could just explain what is wrong with this claim?

We can see where they’re coming from of course: Lord Snowdon is more formally known as the Earl of Snowdon and his last name is indeed Jones (something really not uncommon among those from Wales). We might not expect, or even insist, that the rubes of Manhattan will understand that this conjunction of the names Snowdon and Jones does not equate to having the family name, “€œSnowdon-Jones”€. So we’ll have to explain why not.

“€œIt should be said that Kashmir is indeed a beauty and I’d be delighted to offer an intensive, residential course in these matters so that we can concoct a better cover story.”€

The first point is that the Earl Snowdon is not in fact a blueblood. This is an apellation reserved for those who inherit their titles: he did not, he married it. When he married Princess Margaret it was thought an unpardonable breach of good manners that the children of a Princess might be fathered by a man with no title. Thus an old royal title (they have these things in the back cupboards like those of us with cats have ancient fur balls floating around) was dragged out, dusted down, and given to him. Various Snowdon titles have been known; it was one of those claimed by the Welsh royal family way back before 1282 when the English slaughtered the last of them. But Mr. Jones is the first Earl Snowdon: the title was chosen because Snowdon is in Wales, he is from Wales, and, well, no one really expects the royals to be all that imaginative. His background is not royal or aristocratic: he’s from minor (although artistic, the Messels are involved) provincial gentry. Nothing wrong with this”€”it’s a more august background than my own but blueblooded it ain’t.

Strike one therefore on this claim. Strike two is rather simpler to explain. Anthony, Earl Snowdon, is known to have four children. Two he had with the Princess, one from his second marriage, and a further illegitimate one called Penny Fry. He does indeed have a son called David but he is more generally known either as David Armstrong Jones, the Viscount Linley, or even David Linley. He makes very expensive furniture in London and is married to the heiress daughter of the Earl of Harrington. There is no David Snowdon-Jones in his line.

There’s also one further small problem which the perceptive will already have picked up on. Jones is not only a common name in Wales, it is the most common name. We’re not all that surprised when it turns into a double-barreled name then. Snowdon-Jones for example: someone called Jones from the area around Snowdon perhaps. That’s the likely source of the name our Manhattan party girl bears.

However, there’s no connection at all between this name and the man called Jones who also became the Earl Snowdon: for as a matter of fact, his name is “€œArmstrong Jones”€. So that even if David Snowdon-Jones in Manhattan were a bastard child of Earl Snowdon (actually, with those with titles we tend not so use that word, more euphemisms like “€œborn on the wrong side of the blanket”€) his name would in fact be David Armstrong Jones.

That’s the third strike and they’rrrrrrre out!

On the other hand it should be said that Kashmir is indeed a beauty and I’d be delighted to offer an intensive, residential course in these matters so that we can concoct a better cover story.


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