A hotel in Earl’s Court has ignored calls to honour with a blue plaque Britain’s first female spy, whose heroics inspired the first Bond girl, reports claim.
Krystyna Skarbek, who was half Jewish, inspired Ian Fleming’s Vesper Lynd, a Russian double agent played by Ursula Andress and Eva Green more recently.
But despite calls from Polish ambassador Arkady Jozef Rzegocki and English Heritage, 1 Lexham Gardens has refused to honour the Polish-born countess murdered at the age of 44 in the reception area of the then-called Shellbourne hotel, the Sunday Times reported.
Skarbek, who is buried in Kensal Green with soil from Poland, was stabbed through the heart in the hotel lobby with a combat knife by Dennis Muldowney, a man thought to be her ex-lover.
Winston Churchill’s “favourite spy”, she counted among her achievements skiing out of Nazi-occupied Poland with footage hidden in her gloves containing evidence of Operation Barbarossa, Nazi plans to invade the Soviet Union.
Skarbek was instrumental in the days leading up to D-Day and single-handedly convinced a Nazi garrison to defect. She was awarded the George Medal, France’s Croix de Guerre and made an OBE.
But despite her undercover prowess, Skarbek was denied opportunities in the millitary after the war, working instead as a hatcheck girl, a waitress and a lavatory cleaner.
Clare Mulley, whose book The Spy Who Loved chronicled Skarbek’s life, told the newspaper: “She suffered horrendous sexism.
“Men who were too young to have served in the war scribbled in the margins of her applications that she was a ‘little girl’ whose skills were exaggerated.”