Ralph Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland
The Duke of Northumberland
Portrait by Allan Warren
|Born||Ralph George Algernon Percy
16 November 1956
|Spouse(s)||Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberland|
|Parents||Hugh Percy, 10th Duke of Northumberland
Elizabeth Diana Percy, Duchess of Northumberland
He studied history at the University of Oxford, and then land management with Reading University and worked in the Arundel Castle estate office for seven years, before moving back to Northumberland to manage the Alnwick estate for his elder brother Henry, the 11th Duke.
He succeeded in the dukedom in 1995 on the death of the 11th Duke, who had no offspring. As such, he was a member of the House of Lords until the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999 ended the right of hereditary peers to sit in the House. Hansard records no contributions to House of Lords work by Northumberland.
As Duke, he is the beneficial owner (or head of the beneficially owning family) of Northumberland Estates, the main ducal commercial vehicle, and a large number of affiliate companies and trusts, which in turn own a great deal of land and property in Northumberland, Scotland, Surrey and Tyneside. Ralph Percy was ranked at number 248 in the Sunday Times Rich List 2011, with an estimated wealth of £315 million. He is the titular owner of Alnwick Castle, an ancestral ducal seat, as well as Warkworth Castle and Prudhoe Castle in Northumberland; Syon Park in London; Hulne Park and Hulne Priory at Alnwick; the Albury Estate in Surrey, and other listed buildings such as Brizlee Tower. Northumberland Estates manages 100,000 acres (40,000 ha) of land, directly managing 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of forestry interests and 20,000 acres (8,100 ha) of farmland, with 100 tenant farmers managing the remainder of the land.
The 12th Duke has shown a greater degree of entrepreneurial zeal than recent predecessors, and his redevelopment plans meet frequent criticism. His sale on the open market, rather than at a lower price to The National Gallery, of Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks in 2003 was also subject to some criticism. At much the same time, in response to a Foot and Mouth disease crisis, the Duke cut the rents of tenant farmers by 10%. The Duke has signalled his opposition to wind farms, but has engaged with renewable energy in the restoration of a hydroelectric power generator. The Duke is a sponsor of The Northumberland Church of England Academy.
Marriage and children
Northumberland married Jane Richard in 1979. They have four children:
- Lady Catherine Sarah Valentine (b. 23 June 1982), married to Patrick Valentine since 26 February 2011.
- George Dominic Percy, Earl Percy (b. 4 May 1984), managing director of energy company Cluff Geothermal with Professor Paul Younger.
- Lady Melissa Jane van Straubenzee (b. 20 May 1987), married Thomas van Straubenzee on 22 June 2013.
- Lord Max Ralph Percy (b. 26 May 1990) rumoured to be dating Princess Nora Oettingen-Spielburg. 
- His niece Lucy Cuthbert is married to Saudi prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud.
- Barber, Lynne (3 August 2003). "Gardener's question time". The Observer. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "Mr Ralph Percy". Hansard. UK Parliament. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "The Northumberland Estates". Alnwick Castle website. The Northumberland Estates. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "History and Heritage". The Northumberland Estates. The Northumberland Estates. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- "Farming". The Northumberland Estates. The Northumberland Estates. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- "Sawmill and Forestry". The Northumberland Estates. The Northumberland Estates. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- "Duke's Plans Spark Suspicion". Northumberland Gazette. 7 February 2001. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- Burnham, Nigel (19 October 2009). "Will the Duke's grand plans ruin Northumberland?". Mail Online.
- "Duke hits back at £35m art sale critics". Northumberland Gazette. 16 January 2003. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- "Duke slashes farm rents to ease rural crisis". Northumberland Gazette. 6 November 2002. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- "Duke joins fight against windfarm". Northumberland Gazette. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- "... while Duke lashes turbines as "ugly and noisy"". Northumberland Gazette. 2 December 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- "Duke's hydro system taps into the past". Northumberland Estates. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- Noblesse et royautés (fr).
- "Cluff Geothermal: the team".
- "Mr T. van Straubenzee and Lady Melissa Percy". Daily Telegraph. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November2012.
- "Lady Melissa to marry Prince Harry’s best friend". Berwick Advertiser. 8 November 2012.
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|Peerage of Great Britain|
|Duke of Northumberland
1995 – present
|Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom|
The Duke of Manchester
The Duke of Leinster