Laura, Duchess of Manchester
The Astonishing Life of Laura Smith Montagu
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Raised on a farm, Laura enjoyed the simple pleasures of life on the farm and helping her parents and siblings with the day to day work. But all was not well for little Laura. The family experienced some tumultuous events which marred her young life and turned her thoughts to dreams of another kind of existence.
Laura carried the stories of discovered princesses into her own dreams. Seeing her self as a yet-unknown princess or heir, she placed her hopes in these magical fantasies instead of focusing on her school work.
It is not clear whether or not she actually graduated from high school at Holly (Michigan) Senior High School, with the class of 1980, but Peaches, as Laura was then known to her fellow students, was popular, especially with young men of her acquaintance.
Here is the website for Laura's alma mater Holly High School. Holly HS is located in Holly, Michigan.
During the time I was, I though, working for the Manchesters, first to produce a website for them and then to gather information to write a book on Alex, 13th Duke of Manchester, Laura and I talked daily.
Because I had been asked to be Alex's formal biographer I took notes not only on Alex's interviews but on the conversations with Laura as well.
Laura did not mention during these interviews the name of her alma mater, but I was easily able to identify this from other comments she made at the time.
After leaving Holly Laura said she was employed by a private airline company to provide hospitality for their clients. She said the company was located in Florida but provided no further details. Eventually, Laura relocated to the Los Angeles area.
According to Wendy, Alexander's second wife who he married in 1993. Alex had filed for divorce in 2006 in an attempt to force Wendy, who had been employed by a law firm in Orange County, for the whole time of their marriage, to pay him support. Manchester's attempt failed due to his multiple lies to the court, one of these his poverty, which was refuted in court when Wendy's attorney produced his bank account which contained over half a million dollars.
Alex committed perjury against Wendy, claiming she was violent. Perjury was one of the charges which played a part in the Duke's recent conviction for attempted burglary in Las Vegas. See more on this on the Manchester Website.
Manchester married his new love, Laura, only a bare month after the divorce from Wendy was final, and over the order of the judge to do no such thing.
Laura is the daughter of Marvin and Frances Smith (Yoder) of Michigan and was born September 21, 1962 according to their Licence of Confidential Marriage. The form for the license indicates the two were already living together on that date.
The wedding may have been celebrated at the home of a relative living in Laguna Beach, California.
It came out soon after the excruciating divorce that Alex had defrauded Wendy, never having divorced his first wife, Marion, who left him only weeks after they were married in 1984. A legal divorce took place in October of 1996 after the birth of Alex's two children with Wendy, making their status as his legal heirs questionable.
Alex so informed the Manchester Trustees in 2009. This resulted in the withdrawal of support for both Wendy and the two young children. This was restored by order of the Queen's Court in July of 2011.
In the interim Laura had left Alex at least once, moving in with Wendy and her kids.
Laura Ann Smith to Alexander, 13th Duke of Manchester September 2007
Stay tuned, as the story continues, taking up issues which Laura's story so well serves to illustrate.