Camilla's cousin's wife wins latest round of Britain's longest divorce

Camilla’s cousin’s estranged wife wins latest round of SEVEN-year court fight as Britain’s longest-running divorce case goes into extra time

  • Charles Villiers has spent nearly eight years trying to divorce his estranged wife
  • The couple have been separated for a decade and filed for divorce in 2014 
  • Mrs Villiers’ application for maintenance was dismissed in 2021 because her husband ‘could not afford to pay’
  • Appeal judges have now overturned this decision because ‘it was wrong’

An aristocrat’s estranged wife has won the latest round of their seven-year legal battle in one of Britain’s longest-running divorce cases which has so far played out in five different courts and before 12 judges.

Charles Villiers, who is in his late 50s, and estranged wife Emma Villiers, who is in her early 60s, hit the headlines after becoming involved in an argument over whether they should fight over money in a Scottish or English court.  

They have been separated for a decade and filed for divorce in 2014, making their bitter marital conflict arguably the most toxic and highly publicised in the nation. 

Charles Villiers  and estranged wife Emma Villiers are embroiled in what is known as Britain’s longest divorce battle. In the latest development, Mrs Villiers has secured a win as a ruling to dismiss an application for maintenance has been overturned 

Mr Villiers – cousin of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, argued they were divorcing in Scotland and should therefore have financial decisions decided in a Scottish court.

But Supreme Court justices ruled against him.

In the latest development, a previous ruling dismissing Mrs Villiers application for maintenance has been overturned. 

In 2015 the High Court in London ordered Mr Villiers to pay his estranged wife £2,500 a month but he refused. The Supreme Court subsequently ruled she could proceed with her application for maintenance in England.

Pictured: Emma Villiers and her daughter, Clarissa. In March 2021, Mr Justice Mostyn, of the High Court’s family division, ruled that Mr Villiers is heavily in debt and should not be required to pay maintenance. This decision has now been overturned. 

However, in March 2021, Mr Justice Mostyn, of the High Court’s family division, ruled  that Mr Villiers is heavily in debt and should not be required to pay maintenance.    

Mrs Villiers persuaded Lord Justice Moylan, Lord Justice Coulson and Lord Justice Arnold to overturn the ruling.

The three appeal judges decided that Mr Justice Mostyn had been wrong to dismiss an application Mrs Villiers made for maintenance.

They had considered arguments at a Court of Appeal hearing in London in January and published a ruling on Friday. 

Mr Justice Mostyn concluded that Mr Villiers could not afford to pay the maintenance Mrs Villiers said she should get.

He stated that Mr and Mrs Villiers had been left ‘financially ruined’ by the ‘terrible’ litigation and he suspected both were also ‘psychologically damaged’.

But Lord Justice Moylan said he had reached the ‘clear conclusion’ –  Mr Justice Moylan was wrong to dismiss Mrs Villiers’ application.

Lord Justice Coulson and Lord Justice Arnold agreed.

The aristocrat is the cousin of Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. He has been separated from his estranged wife for a decade and the legal battle continues

Philip Cayford QC, who led Mrs Villiers’ legal team, had argued that decisions made by Mr Justice Mostyn should be overturned.

He told appeal judges: ‘The hearing of this matter has been blighted by (Mr Villiers’) continued failure to provide full and frank disclosure of his financial position.

‘The effect of the learned judge’s finding is to permit (Mr Villiers) to profit from his ongoing breach of court orders.’

However, Michael Horton QC, who led Mr Villiers’ legal team, argued that Mrs Villiers’ appeal should be dismissed.

He told appeal judges: ‘It is now time to put this litigation to bed, and to allow what has been an empty shell of a marriage since 2012 finally to be dissolved by a Scottish court. The appeal should be dismissed.’

Judges have heard how Mr and Mrs Villiers had lived near Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire.

They had separated in 2012 after 18 years of marriage – Mr Villiers still lives in Scotland and Mrs Villiers lives in London.

Mr Justice Mostyn said both Mr and Mrs Villiers had made accusations against the other after ‘love’ turned to ‘hatred’.

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