To my shame, back in the 1980s, I wrote a less than charitable obituary for the Daily Telegraph of the 13th Duke of St Albans, which dwelt unnecessarily on his unfortunate City directorships. This provoked a volley of letters from his grandson, Lord Vere of Hanworth, couched in intemperate terms. I seem to recall demands of satisfaction, challenges to a duel and the ominous question of whether my club had steps. Later this remarkable young man, by then styling himself Earl of Burford, caused a memorable scene in the House of Lords when he bounced on the Woolsack as if it were a trampoline — or, as he puts it himself, ‘an impromptu soapbox to defend the golden principle of sovereignty’.
Now, having set aside his courtesy title, Charles Beauclerk, heir to the dukedom of St Albans, has produced this full-dress (as it were, though the sumptuous illustrations favour scant attire) biography of his ancestress, the golden-hearted companion of the Merry Monarch.