Owen Tudor's Mysterious Wife


The History

Owen Frederick Morton Tudor (1900-1987) was the son of Admiral Henry Morton Tudor Tudor and the nephew of Admiral Sir Frederick Tudor. (The family name was originally Jones, but according to family lore was changed to obtain an inheritance.) Another uncle of Owen Tudor was General Ernest Tudor, who was the father of my grandmother Hilary.

Owen Tudor entered the army in the 20th Hussars, but in 1921 transferred to the 3rd The King's Own Hussars. At that time the regiment was stationed in Constantinople. It may have been here that Tudor met Larissa Haouk, the daughter of one Adolph Haouk. According to one report, Larissa was "working as a belly dancer in a Constantinople nightclub", and Adolph was a pork butcher. Another story (which may have been due to Hilary) was that Larissa was a refugee from St. Petersburg, and had been living in Constantinople "earning her living the only way she could".

In 1923 Owen and Larissa married. The marriage took place in Hanover Square, London. (Very interestingly, the marriage certificate shows that Denis Swinburne was one of the witnesses. It seems that my grandparents knew Owen Tudor well. I wish we could know what they thought of Owen's new bride! There is a small family mystery here. In 1923 my grandmother, who was Owen's cousin, was only 14. Denis and Hilary married in 1929. I have never heard that my grandparents knew one another at such a young age. So it seems unusual that Denis was at the marriage ceremony. Perhaps he and Owen had been at Sandhurst together?)

This somewhat impetuous marriage was apparently against the wishes of Owen's colonel. Owen was forced to leave his regiment of Hussars. He transferred to the 3rd Battalion Royal Tank Corps, based at Lydd, Kent. He and Larissa lived there "in near-seclusion".

Tragically, Larissa died young, on July 18th, 1926, of pulmonary tuberculosis and spinal caries. She is buried in the Lyd churchyard, the inscription on her gravestone reading:

To My Very Beloved
Larissa Feodorovna
Who Died July 18th, 1926
Aged 28 Years
The Wife of
Owen Tudor
3rd The King's Own Hussars

Reprtedly Owen was devastated by her death, and had flowers delivered to her grave every year on June 10 for many years afterwards.

In spite of his grief, Owen remarried a short time after Larissa's death, to Anne Tufton, the daughter of Lord Hothfield. He rejoined his old regiment, and rose swiftly in the ranks. He retired in 1950 with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

The Mystery

There are some mysterious facts about Owen's marriage and the background of his wife. In his book The Romanov Conspiracies: The Romanovs and the House of Windsor (Orion, 1993) Michael Occleshaw puts forward the theory that "Larissa" was in fact Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia, the second daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. He suggests that she was rescued from Russia by the British, possibly by air, and that Owen Tudor was ordered marry her in order to keep her out of the spotlight. His evidence for this suggestion includes: Occleshaw is not the only one to have had suspicions about Larissa's true identity. In my possession is a letter containing similar speculations, written to my grandmother by an acquaintance who appears to have been a historian.

The Real Fate of the Romanovs?

Tatiana is not the only Romanov child rumoured to have survived. The most famous is Anastasia, who has been impersonated by numerous claimants. The Tsarevich Alexi was also claimed by many to have survived.

However, in 1993 Russian archaeologists exhumed remnants of a number of bodies at the Ekaterinburg site. DNA testing confirmed conclusively that these were the remains of the Romanovs. But two bodies remained missing. Very recently in July 2007, the remains of the final two members of the family were discovered in the same area. This seems once and for all to put to rest all speculation that some of the royal family survived the 1918 execution.

There remains one poignant and tantalizing fact. The day on which Owen Tudor always brought flowers to Larissa's grave was June 10 - the birthday of Grand Duchess Tatiana.

References



Pictures of Owen Tudor in his Hussars uniform, June 1928 (probably at the same time as his second marriage)


Admiral Sir Frederick Tudor


A picture from the Harrowgate Herald in 1918, showing a group of exiled Russian aristocrats. The face in the circle is unidentified, but the speculation is that this is Larissa/Tatiana


Pictures of Larissa Tudor's grave in Lyd, Kent


Copy of Entry of Marriage of Owen Tudor and Larissa Haouk, 1923. Note the name of Denis Swinburne as a witness.


Copy of Larissa Tudor's death certificate, 1926.


The house in Lyd, Kent where Owen and Larissa lived.


Various pictures of Grand Duchess Tatiana


Clippings from the society pages of Owen Tudor's second marriage (from the papers of Hilary Swinburne).


The Hon. Anne Tufton, Owen's second wife.