Henry Roper-Curzon was 'duped' into marrying his 'Kurdish Princess'
‘I’ve been a mug’: Aristocrat Henry Roper-Curzon says he was ‘duped’ into marrying his ‘Kurdish Princess’ bride – and was only rescued when his mother turned detective to investigate
Even for a man in the throes of newly wedded bliss, she seemed almost too good to be true. Beautiful and accomplished, Hanna Jaff had a ‘wall of university degree certificates’, headed her own ‘globally recognised’ charitable foundation and was ‘practically royalty’, descended from an ancient line of Kurdish kings.
So when love-struck aristocrat Henry ‘Harry’ Roper-Curzon, distant cousin to Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice and heir to Pylewell Park in Hampshire, flew into his new bride’s ‘hometown’ of Mexico City last summer, he was in high spirits.
Yet within minutes of arriving, he was left scratching his head. ‘A well-dressed Mexican lady and boy appeared out of nowhere, thanking Hanna for teaching them how to read English,’ he today recalls in an exclusive interview.
When love-struck aristocrat Henry ‘Harry’ Roper-Curzon, distant cousin to Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice and heir to Pylewell Park in Hampshire, flew into his new bride’s ‘hometown’ of Mexico City last summer, he was in high spirits. (Henry Roper Curzon with Hanna Jaff)
Harry claims that Hanna, also 34, ‘duped’ him with claims about her ‘royal heritage and fabulous wealth’. (Henry Roper Curzon proposes to Hanna Jaff in Switzerland)
‘I remember saying to Hanna, “It’s a bit random that in a city with millions and millions of people these people happen to be here at the exact time we got out of the car.” And she said to me, “Well, Harry, I have a lot of fans.” ’
Today, a woman once described by the media as ‘the Mother Teresa of Mexico’ has one less fan – namely her soon-to-be ex-husband.
As The Mail on Sunday revealed last week, the 18-month whirlwind marriage of the 34-year-old aristocrat and the reality TV star has broken down amid bitter recriminations.
Harry claims that Hanna, also 34, ‘duped’ him with claims about her ‘royal heritage and fabulous wealth’ which, perhaps he naively believed might even help save his stricken family home from a crippling debt. The trust which runs the family estate is millions of pounds in the red.
Hanna has hit back, accusing her husband of being ‘abusive’ towards her during a row when their marriage imploded. Both sides vehemently deny the other’s claims.
Harry says he was ‘completely taken in’ by the ambitious Mexican-American – a consummate networker with undoubted talent for self-promotion – and was only rescued when his suspicious mother ‘turned Poirot’ to investigate her daughter-in-law and raised concerns with her son.
‘The incident in Mexico City was so weird,’ he says. ‘I said to Hanna, “You surely didn’t pay them just to turn up?” I would tease her about the fact she was constantly self-promoting.
‘My mother was the one who started spotting a lot of things that didn’t add up.
‘She started digging and was shocked. Then my brother and sister started digging and then a family friend who lives in Mexico helped a lot. They were all genuinely concerned.’
Harry says his family found discrepancies in her story of fabulous wealth. ‘My family staged an intervention and told me everything they had found out. I couldn’t ignore it,’ he says.
While her Wikipedia page has been ‘frozen’ amid claims that it has been embellished, Hanna denies any deceit and insists she can prove every claim, many of which are detailed on her own expansive, eponymous website.
There, she is described as a ‘passionate philanthropist’ whose Jaff Foundation for Education has donated thousands of books to children in refugee camps and orphanages around the globe.
It also provides details of her charitable clothing brand We Are One, which, it says, raises money to promote world peace by selling T-shirts and mugs emblazoned with her ‘inspirational’ sayings such as ‘The best day of your life is made by you’.
Her CV boasts a brilliant list of accomplishments that number several degrees (including a masters), 77 speaking engagements, 185 individually listed acts of charity, 19 awards including being named ‘Person of the Year in Mexico’, a star billing in the Netflix reality show Made In Mexico and a series of minor political roles.
And while Hanna claims to be a Unesco ‘Kindness Ambassador’, the prestigious organisation this week disputed that. A spokesman referred this newspaper to its official list of ambassadors – which does not include Hanna’s name – saying: ‘We don’t know why this person is listed as an ambassador [on her website]. Unesco only recognises as ambassadors its Goodwill Ambassadors and the representatives of its member states which are listed in this page.’
Photographs show her with world leaders, philanthropists and celebrities, including Victoria Beckham, and much is made of her noble heritage from the 900-year-old Jaff tribe of Kurdistan.
Little wonder then that Harry – whose eccentric sculptor father David Roper-Curzon, Lord Teynham, was forced by debts to move out of Pylewell Park so it could be used as venue for weddings – was enthusiastic when a mutual friend, the socialite Martha Sitwell, arranged a blind date for Harry and Hanna at a pop-up art show at a private house in Belgravia in the summer of 2019.
Reassured by Hanna’s social credentials – ‘she was a member of Annabel’s and knew everyone’ – the romance moved at lightning speed.
‘Everyone in the beginning was taken in, saying she’s so amazing and impressive, telling me to go for it,’ says Harry.
‘She gave me this big spiel that she was from Kurdish nobility, that her dad was the leader of the Jaff tribe which has five million members.
‘I knew it wasn’t normal royalty because it’s a tribe but I’m interested in other cultures and I thought it was intriguing.’
By Christmas, Harry was on his way to San Diego to ask Hanna’s father for her hand in marriage.
Perhaps Harry naively believed might even help save his stricken family home from a crippling debt. (Pictured, Pylewell Park House)
A month later on the slopes of the exclusive Swiss ski resort Gstaad, he proposed, slipping a diamond ring belonging to his mother which Hanna claimed had been ‘passed down from Mary, Queen of Scots’, on her finger. They wed in secret at Chelsea Town Hall in London on February 17 last year, with no family present. Harry had his business partner there, while Hanna was supported by her best friend.
‘We always get married in the church [on the estate] but she told me that in Mexico you have the civil wedding first and then you do the religious ceremony later,’ Harry says. They moved to a pretty thatched cottage just outside Salisbury but Harry quickly became confused by his new bride’s unusual lifestyle.
‘She used to go off on these weekends to help her political career or help her get a foot in the UN or something like Davos,’ he says.
‘She met a sheikh and said he paid for her time to come out and go meet his guests and have a dinner because he was very into himself and wanted to look important.
‘She didn’t want me there because I would get in the way.’
Publicly-available records show Hanna was born in San Diego to father Saryas, 67, a carpet salesman of Kurdish descent, and Mexican mother Lilia, 65.
The five-bedroom family home in the city’s suburbs is worth £2.3 million. ‘It’s a nice home by any standards, but nothing like what Harry was expecting,’ a friend said.
‘He grew up in a stately home and he absolutely believed he was marrying into Kurdish royalty.’
In London, Hanna was ‘impeccably connected’ and dined with Middle Eastern and Silicon Valley billionaires.
Even before meeting Harry, she was a regular in the glossy magazines, often described as a ‘Kurdish Princess’ and listed by the society magazine Quien as one of ‘the ten prettiest girls in Mexico’.
On her LinkedIn page, Hanna claimed to have studied at Columbia University and the Sorbonne in Paris but later clarified that these were only summer courses.
Hanna also clarified her Masters degree in Arts from Harvard University, was in fact from a degree in Liberal Arts in International Studies from Harvard Extension School.
Was Harry in love with her? ‘I was at one point, because she was doing all these incredible things,’ he says. ‘I must have been a mug. I thought she was a good person. I feel completely and utterly duped.I found it embarrassing when she would go on about herself and talk about money. I put that down to her being Californian.’
He said he was ‘embarrassed’ by her ‘obsession’ with royal status.
At one point, she claimed in a press release she was set to have tea with the Queen: ‘That wasn’t true,’ Harry says.
‘Her obsession with royalty and status was highly embarrassing to me.’
What Harry insists he did not know was that when Hanna arrived in the UK, she was nursing the heartbreak of a failed engagement.
In May 2016, Mexican papers breathlessly reported her engagement to Jorge Ancira, the son of business tycoon, with photographs of the 42-year-old’s proposal on bended knee during a trip to St Barts in the Caribbean widely published in Latin America.
It has never been explained why the relationship foundered but it did not dampen Hanna’s growing profile in Mexico. It culminated in 2018 with her signing up for Made In Mexico, a show that followed the lives of nine young socialites in Mexico City.
Hanna enthusiastically detailed her achievements and claimed to have turned down four marriage proposals. The media were transfixed and eagerly dug into her background, raising the first claims of apparent flaws in her life story.
Other cast members on the show even accused her directly of being a ‘fake’.
One member of a Mexican aristocratic family who appeared on the programme said: ‘None of us have ever heard of Hanna. If you are from high society in Mexico, you grow up knowing everyone.
‘It’s not a big world.
‘My mother is a philanthropist and she’s never heard of Hanna or her foundation.’
A tearful Hanna was later shown confiding in her mother about the ‘bullying’ that she had been subjected to on the show.
‘I’m Mexican, I’m a Muslim and I’m a woman. I have been a victim of bullying, racism,’ she said. ‘It’s hard when all your friends are getting married.
‘I can only introduce a man to my dad if I am going to marry him. In my father’s culture, you are not allowed to have a boyfriend.’
Harry knew of Hanna’s appearance on Made In Mexico but, perhaps catastrophically with hindsight, did not watch it. ‘I thought it was going to be like [the British E4 series] Made In Chelsea, I couldn’t bear it,’ he says.
Photographs show her with world leaders, philanthropists and celebrities, including Victoria Beckham, pictured right, and much is made of her noble heritage from the 900-year-old Jaff tribe of Kurdistan
But the information provided by his family earlier this year was different, prompting him to confront Hanna on the phone about the ‘inconsistencies’ in her story.
‘She was very calm in a weird way,’ he recalls. ‘I thought I’d do the gentlemanly thing so I flew to Mexico and said it to her face but she refused to take it in and was saying, “Look Harry, we’ll work it out. Don’t listen to the haters.’’ ’
Matters came to a head when they had both returned to Britain in February.
According to recent news reports in Mexico, Hanna claimed Harry became physically abusive towards her.
He is just as insistent that those claims are false as Hanna is insistent she never lied to her estranged husband.
‘It’s a horrendous thing she’s trying to accuse me of,’ he says.
‘I’ve never laid a finger on her.’
Hampshire Police said: ‘We did receive a call relating to a civil dispute.’
For now, the only communication between the couple is through their lawyers.
Despite that, Harry says a sense of relief outweighs regret. ‘I have trouble sleeping some nights, I’m tossing and turning but otherwise I’m fine,’ he says.
‘The reason I’m telling my story now is to warn others. ‘I’m relieved she is out of my life.’
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