The runaway aristocrat who has finally been found by police with her convicted rapist lover is a former Tatler It-girl whose father was heir to a £115million fortune before he had an ‘awakening’ and left for Australia.
Constance Marten, 35, is the daughter of Napier Marten, a page to Queen Elizabeth II who experienced an ‘epiphany’ which persuaded him to give up his ‘materialistic’ life, shave his head and live in a lorry before training in head massage.
In Australia he had an out-of-body experience while standing with a group of Aborigines on a clifftop. He also went whale watching – an event he found so emotional it left him crying ‘almost non-stop’ for a week.
Today, Napier spoke of his relief that his daughter, 35, had eventually been found in Brighton after 54 days on the run with her partner, Mark Gordon, 48 – who spent 20 years in prison in the US for raping a woman as a teenager.
But he said it was ‘very alarming’ that the whereabouts of their newborn baby were still unknown, with the couple refusing to tell police where the child is, or even whether it is a boy or a girl.
Constance Marten, 35, is the daughter of Napier Marten, a former page to Queen Elizabeth II
Napier experienced an ‘epiphany’ which persuaded him to give up his ‘materialistic’ life, shave his head and live in a lorry before training in head massage
With hopes the baby will be found alive starting to wane, police have now arrested the couple on suspicion of child neglect and gross negligence manslaughter.
While official efforts are focused on searching for the missing baby, the question of what persuaded Constance to go on the run with a convicted rapist 13 years her senior is already the subject of intense speculation.
Napier Marten has previously told how her daughter became estranged from her family after meeting Gordon in 2016.
Addressing his daughter via The Independent, Napier told her: ‘Darling Constance, even though we remain estranged at the moment, I stand by, as I have always done and as the family has always done, to do whatever is necessary for your safe return to us.
‘The past eight years have been beyond painful for all the family as well as your friends, as they must have been for you. And to see you so vulnerable again is testing in the extreme.
‘Please Constance, find the courage to present yourself to the police as soon as possible.’
Born in 1986 to Napier and his wife Virginie De Selliers, Constance grew up with her brothers Tobias, 31, and Maximilian, 34, on the 5,000-acre Crichel estate, where she later recalled enjoying ‘naked picnics, siestas amid [hay bales], and tractor scoops’.
Mark Gordon, 48, and Constance Marten, 35, went missing for 54 days
Born in 1986 to Napier and his wife Virginie De Selliers, Constance grew up with her brothers Tobias, 31, and Maximilian, 34, on the 5,000-acre Crichel estate
After university she began an acting course at East 15 drama school in Essex
She was aged nine at the time of her father’s ‘awakening’ in 1996. While he later returned to the UK to work as a tree surgeon, he left Crichel to Maximilian.
The stunning Georgian property has featured in period dramas, including the 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow, and stayed in the family until 2013 when it was bought by American billionaire Richard Chilton.
Known by the nickname of ‘Toots’, Constance attended private St Mary’s School in Shaftesbury, which charged £30,000 a year until it closed in 2020.
Her grandmother, Mary Anna Marten, was the goddaughter of the late Queen Mother and a trustee of the British Museum, while his father was Toby Marten, a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy.
After school, Constance went on to study Arabic and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Leeds and, aged 21, featured in society magazine Tatler as its ‘Babe of the Month’.
Posing in 2009 for a Q&A-type feature, Constance described her favourite place as being on top of the Matterhorn, which she had recently climbed.
Asked what her best party had been, she answered: ‘Viscount Cranbourne’s party in Dorset – the theme was the Feast of Bacchus.’
Constance – pictured again at a 2013 party – vanished with Mr Gordon in January
Known by the nickname of ‘Toots’, Constance attended private St Mary’s School in Shaftesbury, which charged £30,000 a year until it closed in 2020
She added that her party trick was ‘crunching a Coke can between my shoulder blades’ like ‘a human recycling machine’ and that her future plans included getting a tattoo of a tortoise on the bottom of her foot.
Constance began an acting course at East 15 drama school in Essex, with a classmate recalling her to the Sunday Times as ‘just beautiful, full of life, full of kindness’ and ‘very talented’.
But the ‘very good actress’ dropped out of the drama school in 2016, following a tiff with her course tutor – the same year she reportedly started living with Mark Gordon in Ilford, East London.
While Birmingham-born Mr Gordon grew up in Florida, he was deported back to the UK in 2010 after serving a sentence for breaking into a woman’s home and raping her when he was aged 14.
He has been accused of cutting Marten off from her family and friends before they ran away with £15,000 from her trust fund.
In August last year, the couple were evicted from their London home for not paying rent and leaving thousands of pounds worth of damage to the property.
They then vanished with their newborn baby on January 5, with the couple leaving their car on fire on the M61 in Bolton.