Richard Branson's 34-year-old nephew marks marriage no. 2 with Winslet

By Maggie Coughlan
December 27, 2012 11:55 AM
Tyrone Siu/Reuters/Landov

When Kate Winslet began dating Ned Rocknroll just over a year ago, little was known about the man she secretly married earlier this month.

From his peculiar last name, his famous uncle and a job in the space-travel industry, here are five things you should know about the man who swept Winslet off her feet:

A Fire Brought Them Together
When Winslet and her then boyfriend Louis Dowler visited Branson’s Carribean home on Necker Island in August 2011, a fire broke out and the couple – along with Winslet’s two children – managed to escape with 16 other guests. But when it came time to return to New York, it was Rocknroll who accompanied her, according to Britain’s Daily Mail.

He’s Part of a Famous Family
Born Ned Abel Smith, Rocknroll (now his legal name) is the nephew of Virgin Ground founder Richard Branson. Rocknroll works for Branson’s space initiative, Virgin Galatic, which has space-travel packages that range from $20,000 to $1 million. By Oct. 2011, Rocknroll took Winslet on an out-of-this-world date to New Mexico, where he helped his uncle open a commercial spaceport.

He Moves Fast
After they were first linked in Aug. 2011, Rocknroll, 34, and Winslet, 37, were soon spotted together all over the world, walking with Winslet’s children on the streets of New York and dining together in Paris. According to reports, the pair moved into a 15th-century house in a hamlet in West Sussex, England, in September.

He’s Been Married Before
This is Winslet’s third marriage, but this isn’t Rocknroll’s first trip down the aisle either. The 34-year-old was married to heiress Eliza Pearson, the daughter of Viscount Cowdray, for just under two years. According to The Sun Rocknroll had ventured to Necker Island to “take his mind off things” but “when Kate came out they really hit it off.”

So What’s in a Name?
According to an interview his ex-wife gave to the Daily Mail in October of 2011, the unusual last name was just an effort to have a little bit of fun. “It was hysterical. We had discussed him doing this many times before, but I wasn t sure whether he d do it,” Pearson said of changing the name legally. “The whole thing was about having fun with your name. He thought we all took ourselves too seriously so it was about reacting against it. He looked into just being ‘Ned,’ with no surname at all but, apparently, that’s illegal so we couldn’t do it.”