‘He said he had met an amazing woman and she was making him really happy. I guess I was surprised he had met someone like Kate. Occasionally they took off on a road trip, travelling round the English countryside, or Scotland where Ned’s aunt has a house. We had been surfing all day and it had been freezing cold. It was a very simple proposal, which was what was so beautiful. ‘We had talked about our future and all of that stuff.
During the summer of 2008, they packed up a VW campervan with Milo and Ludo and headed off to St Ives in Cornwall to go surfing. We got excited about what we wanted to do.’ Then, one day, she received an email from Ned containing a photograph of his new passport, showing he had changed his name to Ned Rocknroll. But Eliza says it was not an impromptu decision, but one which had philosophical intentions.‘It was hysterical.
The house boasts 13 bedrooms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, wine cellars, tennis courts and even a bowling alley.
But inside the vast, double-storey galleried main hall the furniture sits under dust sheets and paintings are wrapped away.
The families met and Eliza became very good friends with Ned’s younger siblings, twins Ludo and Milo.
When Ned was working at Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, in London in the summer of 2006, Eliza spent three months in the capital on a cookery course.
The outdoor ceremony was overseen by a spiritual Shaman who bound their hands with rope, and the beach party reception on the West Sussex coast involved Ugandan dancers, bongo drums and an adult play-pen in the shape of a specially created net filled with plastic balls.
Marina attended a sculpture course in London with Ned’s mother Lindy Brockway.
We had discussed him doing this many times before, but I wasn’t sure whether he’d do it.
The whole thing was about having fun with your name.
The pair spent increasing amounts of time together and Eliza visited his offices in Leicester Square.
She recalls: ‘His job title was head of astronaut relations and marketing.