Robert Fellowes, Baron Fellowes

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For the actor Julian Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, see that article.
The Right Honourable
The Lord Fellowes
Private Secretary to the Sovereign
In office
Monarch Queen Elizabeth II
Preceded by The Rt. Hon. Sir William Heseltine
Succeeded by The Rt. Hon. Sir Robin Janvrin
Personal details
Born (1941-12-11) 11 December 1941 (age 73)
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Lady Jane Spencer
Alma mater Eton College

Robert Fellowes, Baron Fellowes GCB GCVO QSO PC (born 11 December 1941) was Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II from 1990 to 1999, and is also known as a brother-in-law of Diana, Princess of Wales and first cousin of Ronald Ferguson, the father of Sarah, Duchess of York.

Family background[edit]

Fellowes is the son of Scots Guards Major Sir William (Billy) Fellowes, the Queen's Land Agent at Sandringham, and of his wife Jane Charlotte Ferguson, daughter of Brigadier-General Algernon Francis Holford Ferguson (great-grandfather of Sarah, Duchess of York). The Fellowes of Shotesham are an old country family, related to the Lords De Ramsey (senior branch). According to Michael Rhodes (a British genealogist specializing in the British aristocracy and landed gentry), "Lord De Ramsey descends from one Coulson Fellowes (1696-1769), and Lady Jane's husband, Lord Fellowes, descends from Coulson's younger brother, William, of Shotesham Park, Norfolk."

He is not related to actor and peer Julian Fellowes.,[1] but they have a common ancestor named William Fellowes, who lived in 1653.[2]

Robert Fellowes married Lady Jane Spencer, elder sister of Diana, Princess of Wales on 20 April 1978 at Westminster Abbey, when he was an Assistant Private Secretary to the Queen. The then-Lady Diana Spencer was a bridesmaid. They have three children, Laura Jane Fellowes, (born 19 July 1980), Alexander Robert Fellowes, (born 23 March 1983), and Eleanor Ruth Fellowes, (born 20 August 1985).

As well as being brother-in-law of Diana, Princess of Wales, he is also first cousin once removed of Sarah, Duchess of York through his mother, Jane.

Early career[edit]

Fellowes played cricket for Norfolk in the 1959 Minor Counties Championship,[3] making one appearance each against Buckinghamshire and the Nottinghamshire Second XI.[4] Fellowes was educated at Eton College and joined the Scots Guards in 1960 on a short service commission. After completion of service in 1963 he entered the banking industry, working for Allen Harvey and Ross Ltd, discount brokers and bankers, 1964–77. He was a managing director from 1968.

Royal service[edit]

In 1977 Fellowes was recruited to join the Royal Household as Assistant Private Secretary. He spent the next 20 years in the Private Secretary's Office, becoming Deputy in 1986, and Private Secretary in 1990.[5]

Fellowes left his position in February 1999 to return to private banking, his retirement having been announced implicitly on 1 June 1998 when his successor Robin Janvrin was named. He was created a life peer on 12 July 1999 taking the title Baron Fellowes, of Shotesham in the County of Norfolk[6][7] in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.[8]

Lord Fellowes was introduced to the House of Lords and took his seat formally on 26 October 1999. According to reports from the House of Lords, Lord Fellowes remains technically a member of the Royal Household.[9]

Robin Janvrin (portrayed by Roger Allam) was a leading character in the 2006 film The Queen, although at the time of the film's storyline, which took place in 1997, Fellowes was still the monarch's private secretary.

Return to private life[edit]

After retirement from the Royal Household, Lord Fellowes became Vice-Chairman, and then Chairman, of Barclays Private Banking. He is also a company director, and a trustee of the Rhodes Trust, the Mandela Rhodes Foundation and the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. He is also Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth Institute. He was Chairman of The Voices Foundation from 2004 until 2012. He became Chair of the Prison Reform Trust in 2001. He is also the President of Degremont UK following an approach by Prince Jean of Luxembourg[citation needed].

Honours and decorations[edit]

Besides his life peerage, Lord Fellowes has received the following honours:

Titles and styles[edit]

  • Mr Robert Fellowes 1941-1983
  • Mr Robert Fellowes LVO 1983-1987
  • Mr Robert Fellowes CB LVO 1987-1989
  • Sir Robert Fellowes KCVO CB 1989-1990
  • The Rt Hon Sir Robert Fellowes KCVO CB 1990-1991
  • The Rt Hon Sir Robert Fellowes KCB KCVO 1991-1996
  • The Rt Hon Sir Robert Fellowes GCVO KCB 1996-1998
  • The Rt Hon Sir Robert Fellowes GCB GCVO 1998
  • The Rt Hon The Lord Fellowes GCB GCVO QSO PC 1999–present

He was made a Privy Counsellor (PC) in 1990.

He remained Secretary and Registrar of the Order of Merit as of 6 February 2012.[10]


1. The Honourable Laura Jane Fellowes b. 19 July 1980.

2. The Honourable Alexander Robert Fellowes b. 23 March 1983, became a fourth year Classicist at Trinity College, Oxford, was educated at Eton College like his father, maternal uncle and his royal cousins. He became President of the Claret Club, an Old Etonian Society. He made news when his role in a Bullingdon Club drunken brawl was revealed December 2006 and revived March 2007 in a story about Conservative leader David Cameron.[11]

3. The Honourable Eleanor Ruth Fellowes b. 20 Aug 1985.

Sources and citations[edit]

1. When Lord Fellowes left Royal service, Lady Fellowes and he had to move from their "grace and favour" house in Kensington Palace, and so moved to west Norfolk.


  1. ^ Lynn Barber (2004-11-27). "Jolly good Fellowes". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  2. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-10-02. 
  3. ^ "Player profile: Robert Fellowes". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Minor Counties Championship Matches played by Robert Fellowes". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  5. ^ Tomlinson, Richard (20 Dec 1992). "They also serve, who only ush". Independent. 
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 55555. p. 7715. 16 July 1999.
  7. ^ House of Lords (26 October 1999). "Announcement of his introduction at the House of Lords". minutes of proceedings. Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  8. ^ House of Lords (13 October 1999). "House of Lords: Membership". Publications & records. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  9. ^ House of Lords (13 October 1999). "Select Committee on Constitution Fourth Report: APPENDIX 1". Publications & records. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  10. ^ Court Circular 6 February 2012.
  11. ^ David Byers (21 October 2008). "Drunken hellraising for the super-rich - how George Osborne met Nathaniel Rothschild". The Times. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 

External links[edit]

Offices held[edit]

Court offices
Preceded by
Sir William Heseltine
Private Secretary to the Sovereign
Succeeded by
Lord Janvrin