The Marriage of Alexander, 13th Duke of Manchester, to Wendy Buford
Wendy and Alex met for the first time on April 17, 1992 at The Crazy Horse Restaurant and Night Club in Orange County. Alex saw her standing in line and came up to her and gave her his heavily gold embossed card with his title and, although she hesitated, she gave him her phone number. At the time, Wendy was 24 and had been working for eight years. She found her first job when she was 16 and still in high school. By working she earned enough money to buy a car and begin saving until she graduated. She was hired at age 20 as a receptionist at a prestigious law firm in Orange County.
She has worked nearly continuously and is highly valued at the firm as a reliable and dedicated employee. This was likely a large part of the draw for Alex. Wendy was attractive and her job brought in an income. She was steady and reliable and had an apartment and a car, all things Alex lacked – and best of all she was an American citizen.
Alex called her persistently asking her to go out with him. At the time he was sofa surfing at the home of Richard Gipe. This arrangement proved to be wearing for Alex's host and the Viscount found himself in need of alternate resources.
Because he had lost access to the car he was borrowing from Gipe's girl friend, Alex suggested he drive her to work, freeing Wendy's car for his use. Wendy reluctantly agreed. She had just finished paying off the vehicle to lower her expenses while she was off work.
By July, Alex had moved into Wendy's apartment, rapidly displacing her room mate with his behavior. Wendy had discovered she was pregnant and was not sure getting married right awaywas a good idea.
In March, 1993 Alex totaled her modest 1987 Nissan Sentra and insisted on 'buying her' a Jaguar, going out to choose it alone. This did not strike Wendy as an appropriate vehicle, but Alex ignored her objections.
On May 7th Alex came home and insisted they be married immediately. Two hours later they were standing in front of a Justice of the Peace. Wendy had been planning a wedding after the baby was born and no one in her family was able to attend on only a few minutes notice. The ceremony took place at the Court House at 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, 92701 Orange County, California. A business associate of Alex’s, John McDonald, acted as witness.
Wendy was told the emergency wedding was needed to avoid Alex being deported, but refused to tell her why.
Their son, Alexander Michael Charles David Drogo Montagu, Alexander Junior,was born on the 13th. As soon as she was home from the hospital Alex insisted they visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Field Office at 300 North Los Angeles St. Los Angeles, CA, and later an attorney's office in the Los Angeles area.
Alex was finally forced to come clean and tell Wendy he had written a bad check for the Jaguar. Wendy was forced to borrow from her 401K to cover his bad check. This proved to only the first of many such incidents. At the time, Wendy was on maternity leave from her work.
Not long after giving birth to their son, Alexander, Jr., Alex started parking the new Jag in the garage at their apartment. Alex knew, but Wendy did not, that “Cove Motoring” was trying to repossess the Jaguar until they came to the front door one night demanding the car. Eventually, the car went missing, turning up, torched, in the desert. Wendy has always believed Alex did this himself.
Alex's unique scheme for financing automobiles continued throughout the marriage. Wendy would go to work and he would go shopping for cars. He always assured her he had, “taken care of it, it’s all fine, the trust will pay for it…" It was never true. Wendy always ended up having to cover the check, or co-sign for a car of which she had no prior knowledge.
Looking at cars was a major focus for Alex, far more than finding, or keeping, a job.
1994 marked the first of the five jobs held by Montagu during his second marriage. He was hired to drive the shuttle for Wyndham Hotel in Costa Mesa late that year. The couple lived within walking distance. Alex, Jr. was less than a year old and Wendy was working full time and taking care of the household when she came home. This job lasted about a month, according to Wendy, who remembers he was excited about the tips. She also noted losing this
job, or any of his subsequent jobs, was just was not his fault.
Montagu's second job lasted two weeks in 1995. This involved scraping barnacles off boats inNewport Harbor. Wendy had to drop him off and pick him up. There was no explanation as to why this job ended.
Wendy gave in to Alex's demand he, as the husband, control the money early in the marriage. This proved to be a devastating mistake which resulted in nearly yearly evictions from a constant series of homes. During the time they were together, 13 years, the couple was evicted twelve times.
This has also been true of Manchester's life during his third marriage and to present day.
Not mentioning inconvenient facts to Wendy was standard operating procedure throughout the marriage. In 1996 Manchester's mother, Lady Mary Montagu, finally persuaded Alex to cooperate in filling out the forms for a divorce from Marion Stoner Montagu, to whom he was still legally married.
Wendy remembered Lady Mary calling but was never told why there was a sudden, and temporary, increase in communication.
One of the few times Wendy remembers with happiness from her marriage, except for her children, was meeting Michael Jackson. Manchester routinely received invitations for official events from the British Embassy so the couple received one for the memorial service for Diana, Princess of Wales to be held in Los Angeles in September, 1997.
A mutual acquaintance, who knew Jackson was trying to find a way to attend the event, arranged for Michael to attend as their guest. So on September 13th the Viscount of Mandeville and Wendy, the Viscountess, rolled up to the St. James Episcopal Church in Los Angeles with Michael Jackson. After the service Michael returned with them to their hotel room and visited with Alex, Jr. Lord Alex spent his time videoing the game of hide and go seek which took place in their room at Hyatt Regency.
Alex immediately tried to sell Michael a plane, for which he hoped to receive a hefty commission. Jackson declined, but the star did invite the entire family to spend the day at Neverland on Martin Luther King Day the next January.
On June 16th 1999 the Montagu's second child, a daughter, named Ashley Faith Maxine Nell Beatrice Montagu, was born.
Alex had been asking Wendy to have more children but she felt they should have some stability before enlarging their family. Montagu's motive was monetary. For every child he received an additional monthly stipend from the Manchester Trust. Wendy never knew what Alex did with the money provided by the Trust, which Alex refused to discuss with her.
This same year Montagu found a third job, this one driving a limo for a company whose name
was something like “Five Star Limo,” according to Wendy. This job ended after less than a month when Alex ran over someone's foot.
On July 25th, 2002 Alex succeeded to his father's title, becoming the 13th Duke of Manchester,16th Baron Kimbolton of Kimbolton. Alex made one trip to England, alone. Otherwise, nothing changed.
In 2003 Wendy bought a car of her own car so she could be sure of having transportation. It is paid for and she is still driving it today.
Earlier, this same year Montagu found a fourth job. The family was living in Irvine. Alex became a security guard for Nordic Security and was allowed to drive a patrol car wearing a standard uniform. Excited by this, he became very wrapped up in the job. According to Wendy, Alex decided he was actually a police officer, buying extra uniforms in addition to a pair of handcuffs.
Deciding he needed practice using his handcuffs he clamped them on Wendy's wrists one evening, dragged her down the hallway, bruising her badly during a disagreement. He lost the job because of an altercation while on patrol at a movie complex area in Lake Forest. During the altercation he was slightly injured.
The altercation was with a woman manager at the movie theater and the manager's boyfriend. Alex did not confide any further details with Wendy except to say he needed to break up a fight and was shoved and hurt on the job. His employment ended a short time later, the entire time of employment being about one month.
This resulted in a claim for workman's compensation which produced enough money the next year to pay for a colon reduction to help him reduce his growing weight.
The surgery took place at Tri-City Regional Medical Center.
He had told Wendy, who drove him, he was going in for an operation on his back. But the nurse turned to Wendy, giving her instructions for afterward for a very different part of the anatomy as Alex tried with his hands to signal the nurse to be quiet.
In early 2005 Michael Jackson, briefly, reentered their lives.
On March 25, 2005, Wendy began receiving calls from friends telling her Alex was on television, in fact, being interviewed on NBC News by Mike Taibbi. It had dawned on Alex he would be only one of two litigants in the case against Jackson instead of one of many. He also probably realized Wendy would not lie and could think of no way to keep her off the witness stand.
Alex, therefore, needed an excuse not to testify.
Wendy's friends asked her about the claims Alex was making, including being threatened by Jackson, being told to stay away from the trial, and his car and house being vandalized. Wendy told them she was not aware of any threats and knew, for a fact, the house and car were not damaged.
But on April 20th a Declaration made by Alexander, Duke of Manchester, on the abuse of
his son by Jackson was entered into the court record. No such abuse had taken place, and could not have, according to Wendy because Michael was never alone with Little Alex.
Lifw with Alex included the unexpected in many ways. In September or October of 2005 Alex announced he was going to England on important business with the Manchester Trustees. Wendy, always the dutiful wife, drove him to the airport having been told he would be gone a week. Left to arrange transportation for the kids to school and then care until she was home from work, her hands were full. Alex always left abruptly and Wendy eventually realized she really had no idea where he had gone.
Alex called her constantly. Later, Wendy began to understand he was checking up on her because he knew what he would do if left alone. So the calls began even before she was home from dropping him off at LAX. “Do you miss me?” he asked. Wendy responded she never had a chance to miss him.
On this occasion Wendy found out Alex was not in England through Norman Parker, a family friend who called one night to tell her he had talked to Alex in Nassau. Norman realized from her response this was news to her and attempted to cover for Alex, but it did not work.
Next time she and Alex talked she asked where he was. He lied, getting off the phone abruptly.
Finally home after a month he began unpacking his suit cases, one more than he had left with, to give the kids trinkets from his trip.
Fed up and angry, that afternoon Wendy began emptying the suit cases so she could do the wash. She found tee-shirts from Thailand and a package of condoms with two missing.
Confronted him about the condoms, he smirked. He liked it when he thought she was jealous. She she was asking herself, “Who is this man?”
Alex tried to tell her this was just his friends messing around. Noticing his passport, she grabbed in. She could see he had been to Russia, Nassau, and Thailand.
Outraged, she demanded answers to be told he can't tell her because he is working for the FBI. This, she does not believe. She tells him he is living in fantasy world. He tells her they were using him because he is so stupid. That, she could see, had the ring of truth.
Later, when Alex was threatening her with death by government assassination she called the FBI to be told they do not get involved in custody disputes and divorces. Alex would continue to tell people about his contacts at the FBI.
In November of 2005 Alex began training for what was to be his longest job, working at Disneyland on the Indiana Jones Ride, a far reach from being Mr. CIA Man.
Initially, Alex loved the work and made friends, occasionally having drinks after work. But evidently this also meant he did not have the money to pay the mortgage on the house they had finally managed to buy.
After the family was evicted from their twelfth home in 13 years in Aliso Viejo the family moved to Laguna Niguel. This occurred around Valentine's day, 2006 while Alex was still working at Disneyland.
Wendy said there might have been a short stint at MacDonalds on the fry machine, but no other real jobs. But this did not mean Alex was not occupied. During the summer of 2006 Alex joined a dating site where he met Laura Ann Smith who he would marry the next year, several days after his divorce from Wendy was final.
It was during this period that Alex received the largest bounty he would ever get from the Manchester Trust, a share in the sale of the Manchester Jewels. Wendy would learn of this in court when Alex's bank records, which he thought he had adequately hidden, were produced for him to explain.
Early in December, 2006, legal separation documents are served on Wendy. This was news to Wendy, as Alex was still living together as man and wife on Prescott Street, Aliso Viejo, CA. The papers had been issued 16th November 2006.
The Nightmare of the Divorce from Hell had begun.
Christmas 2006 was more like a bad horror movie than a celebration, though Wendy says every Christmas was similar.
After being served paperwork for a separation, Wendy tried to keep the holidays as normal and seamless as possible because she did not want Christmas ruined for the children. For years Wendy had tried to have celebrations which included her mother and father but by 2006 Alex had finally succeeded in alienating her from her family.
Alex's behavior had shocked and disgusted both of Wendy's parents.
Coping with Alex's dramas, which were always worse on holidays, became impossible, so Christmas became just the 4 of them.
That Christmas Day Alex was wandering around like a zombie, according to Wendy. At the time he was using an enormous amount of sleeping pills to, he said, cope with the painful memories of holidays he did not spend with his birth family. Every year these serially repeated recollections would ruin Christmas Day.
After 13 years of attempting to rectify this early deprivation by providing him an environment of family, friends and holiday traditions, Wendy thought he could have moved on from his childhood. There were new holiday traditions, children, and new memories to make with his own family. But, no, it always had to be about him, no matter what the cost to his wife or children.
That year Alex spent Christmas Day sleeping off and on, and stumbling through the house naked. By the time dinner was ready and Wendy sat down with the children, they were still trying to wake him up to join them for dinner.
Exhausted mentally and physically, Wendy remembered saying to herself, “I will not spend another Christmas like this again.” She had no idea she was going to get her wish. This would actually be their final Christmas together.
As she and the children began to eat Wendy apologized to the both of the kids for how the day had gone.
Alexander, Jr. said to her, “why mom, it’s not your fault dinner is ruined”. Wendy choked down her supper with an enormous lump in her throat. But January was even worse.
On January 5th Alex made a call to Wendy's workplace, informing the receptionist he had issued a restraining order against her. This was followed up with a call from the sheriffs’ department that this action had been filed and she would be required to appear in court and answer to these charges.
Wendy was stunned to learn Alex was claiming she had chased him around the house with a knife. Immediately, Wendy complied with every thing the court asked her to do. She was evaluated by court appointed counselors to determine if she was a fit mother. It was determined that she could have unsupervised visitations with the children during the divorce proceedings but Alex refused to comply with the instructions of the court, himself. For months Wendy barely saw her children and all of the exchanges with the children were at the police station.
Wendy was left with only the possessions in her purse when she left for work on January 5th. Her heritage china and crystal, her mementos from friends, family, and school were never returned to her or was her jewelry, most of it gifts from her mother and grandmother and valuable.
Living in a starkly unfurnished apartment Wendy thought of nothing but her children. Turning to her parents and family for support, she knew she could never go back to Alex, no matter what. During this time she endured bizarre emails from Alex, who she found was lying about her to everyone they knew and to the new acquaintances he was making. At the same time, he was attempting to get her to go back to him and realized this whole scenario was an attempt on his part of control her even more completely than he already did.
The Judge, having heard all the reports from the CPS evaluator and psychologist awarded physical custody to Wendy. CPS indicated that they had observed one of the worst cases of Parental Alienation they had seen.
On August 23 Alex was stripped of physical custody. He turned the children over to Wendy in their pajamas. They were permitted to bring nothing they owned with them. On the 30th of August the marriage between Wendy and Alex Montagu was dissolved, with some issues reserved.
Although Alex, who the court discovered had nearly a million dollars in the bank, was ordered to pay for court costs. He was also ordered to pay both alimony and child support. This was accomplished by the Manchester Trust sending the funds directly to Wendy for herself and the children.
Alex, now single, was featured in an article titled, The Duke of Hazard. To the public he was a celebrity playboy.
Three weeks later, on September 21, Alex married Laura Ann Smith, a spinster in her 40s whose father was a farmer in Michigan, where she grew up.
Visitation was a nightmare. All exchanges took place at the police station until Alex left the state. The reserved issues were heard on September 15, 2008.
The next year, on June 5th, Wendy received a call from Alex that he had still been married to Marion Stoner at the time of their wedding in 1993. Their union was not legal and he had so informed the Manchester Trust.
The Trust was forced to suspend their payments because of Alex's confession to them of his bigamy.
The next two years were a financial disaster for Wendy and the children. But the Manchester Trust filed a suit to be heard in the High Court of the Chancery, London, on the issue of the children's legitimacy. On July 19, 2011 support for the children was restored. The court had found they had rights as beneficiaries.
The news media erupted with articles on the bigamist duke and his three wives, something Alex had evidently not anticipated. In complete consistency with his previous behavior Alex now denied having informed the Manchester Trusts and also that he had ever been married to Marion Stoner Montagu.
The children never saw their father again, though occasionally he would call them, attempting to manipulate them, issue threats and disparage their mother.
Wendy calls it the marriage, or unmarriage, from Hell.