Beauty and wealth

Lady Almina, the fifth Countess of Carnarvon, was fortunate.

Even though her social standing was “dubious” because she was “the illegitimate daughter of a Jewish banker and his French kept woman,” Lady Almina was beautiful, explains the current Countess of Carnarvon in her book Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abby.

Lady Almina, of course, and her home, the Highclere Castle, are the inspiration for the Emmy-award winning PBS show.

This countess also was fortunate because her banker father was Alfred de Rothschild, and his wealth was “so stupendous” that he could buy respectability and social acceptance.

When Alfred let it be known that he was “prepared to settle a vast sum of money on her, Almina was a serious contender in the marriage market,” writes the current countess.

Largely because the Earl of Carnarvon needed a big dowry to help preserve his ancestral home, Almina Victoria Marie Alexandra Wombell, 19, married George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the fifth Earl of Carnarvon, on June 26, 1895.

What if Almina had not been beautiful? What if she had not had a wealthy father? She would have been in big trouble in the marriage market in 1895.

Aren’t we fortunate that the value of a women today is measured in more than her beauty and her father’s wealth?

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