London: David Cameron’s grandfather Donald abandoned his wife Enid for his aristocratic lover Marielen von Meiss-Teuffen, who was young, pretty, intelligent and had the kind of European accent that always drew men’s attention, it has been revealed.
In a revealing glimpse into his background, Cameron told the Tory Party conference how his grandfather’s affair with Marielen left his father Ian to pick up the pieces while still a teenager.
It made Ian determined to ensure that when he had children of his own, they got a decent start in life.
Speaking openly for the first time about the relationship, Cameron described a conversation he had with his father during a long walk.
“He told me what he was most proud of,” the Daily Mail quoted Camerson as saying.
“It was simple – working hard from the moment he left school and providing a good start in life for his family.
“Not just for all of us, but helping his mum, too, when his father ran off. Not a hard luck story, but a hard work story,” he said.
The saga of grandfather Cameron’s attraction to a younger woman and the affair that wrecked his marriage is hardly a beacon for family values, yet the effect it had on young Ian and, in turn, on his son David, probably helped to shape a future prime minister.
When Ewen Donald Cameron, known as Donald, first set eyes on Marielen in wartime Britain, she was 21 and a confident, strikingly attractive young woman.
Donald was a well-known figure in the City, with matinee idol looks and the talent to accumulate money.
It is believed his war service was limited by illness but like many in the soon-to-be-blitzed capital – and especially those who went to war – Donald and his new-found companion had no idea what the future might hold.
Marielen was born in Attersee, near Linz, Austria, but lived in Paris for a time before coming to London. By then she had already married and divorced her first husband, Reginald Critchley, with whom she had a daughter, Verona, and was working as a BBC announcer.
Introduced to Donald Cameron by his wife Enid – whom he had married in 1930 – she would become a family friend.
“She didn’t mind me being around,” Marielen said once.
It would not always be that way. Unstoppably, Marielen and Donald fell in love.
Speaking a few years ago from a nursing home in Vienna – in her 80s at the time – she said Enid had been friendly at first, but soured when she discovered the relationship.
“You can imagine what the woman must have felt to realise her husband was in love with another woman,” she said.
Using her married name of Critchley, she had lived around the corner from the Camerons in upmarket Lowndes Square, Knightsbridge.
When the affair became public, Donald moved out of the family home to live with Marielen in nearby Kensington, while Ian was preparing to go to Eton at the time.
They had a daughter, Caroline, but she was not even in her teens when Donald died in 1958.
David Cameron never knew his grandfather as Donald died eight years before he was born.
Temporarily without a full-time partner, Marielen is thought to have worked at Barker’s department store in Kensington High Street but married again about a year later after meeting an Austrian diplomat called Schlumberger, and subsequently returned to her homeland. Caroline had moved to Australia by then.
It is believed that Marielen returned to work in radio before utilising her long-practised BBC enunciation to put stories on cassette tapes.