Former countess of Harewood dies aged 87

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MARION THORPE, founder of the Leeds International Piano Competition and first wife of the 7th Earl of Harewood, died in her sleep last week at the age of 87.

Marion, who went on to marry Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe, died on Thursday, March 6.

Her son David Lascelles, the 8th Earl of Harewood, today paid tribute to his mother.

He said: “There was more to her than just being married to someone well-known. She was an accomplished musician in her own right.

“Music was her great love.”

He added: “She had an incredible sense of loyalty and warmth. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren adored her.”

Marion was born on October 18, 1926, in Vienna, as Maria Donata Nanetta Paulina Gustava Ermina Wilhelmine Stein, but went by the name Marion.

Her Jewish family fled Austria in 1938 and moved to London, where her father Erwin became friends with prolific composer Benjamin Britten.

After studying piano at the Royal College of Music, she married George Lascelles, the 7th Earl of Harewood, in 1949 in Mayfair.

Benjamin Britten wrote the piece ‘Amo Ergo Sum’ for the event.

Marion later had three sons – James, David and Jeremy Lascelles.

In 1961, she joined friend Fanny Waterman to set up the Leeds International Piano competition, which gives young musicians the chance to showcase their skills, and is still a highlight of the musical calendar.

Son David added: “It was something she was very proud of.”

Marion divorced the Earl of Harewood in 1967 and married Jeremy Thorpe in 1973.

Marion, who received a CBE in 2008, leaves three sons, a step-son, 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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