Adeane was born in 1939, son of Sir Michael Adeane and Helen Chetwynd-Stapleton, the daughter of Richard Chetwynd-Stapleton. The family had a long history of service to the royal family. Arthur Bigge, later Lord Stamfordham was private secretary to George V. His daughter Victoria Bigge married George Adeane, parents of Sir Michael.
Edward was educated at Eton College and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he graduated with an MA. He was a Page of Honour to The Queen from 1954 to 1956. In 1960–1961 he was a Plebiscite Supervisor in the Southern Cameroon. He was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in July 1962, and specialised in libel until 1979. As a barrister he defended Time Out magazine, owned by Playboy Publications, Inc., in 1973, when they had accused Fiona Lewis, an actress, of being involved with South American revolutionaries. She was awarded damages.
The following year, he represented The Spectator magazine who had libeled publishers Jonathan Cape, suggesting they were in financial difficulties, and won a similar outcome in that case. In 1975 he was more successful in representing Marcia, Lady Falkender, who was falsely accused of forging the signature of her boss, former Prime Minister Harold Wilson. She was paid damages and costs. In 1977, Adeane represented Marlene Dietrich, the glamorous Hollywood actress, in a libel case brought by producer Alexander Cohen and Brentwood TV, of New York, for breach of contract, as a disreputable performer.
Adeane was appointed Private Secretary and Treasurer to the Prince of Wales in May 1979 to succeed Sqdr Ldr David Checketts. Prince Charles and Edward Adeane shared a passion in angling on the River Test near Stockbridge, Hampshire. They were members of the Houghton Fishing Club, where Adeane continued to fish right up until his last days. On the engagement of Lady Diana Spencer and the Prince, she was due to arrive at Albany House, where Adeane had a barrister's set. The staff expected octogenarian Lady Diana Cooper, but were bemused to find a much younger lady arrive in her Mini Metro and park perfectly. Princess Diana had a nervous start in a royal household, where she dismissed almost all of the staff. Adeane was made the Princess's Treasurer in 1981 on their marriage. Adeane was granted the additional appointment as private secretary to the Princess in 1984, following Oliver Everett's resignation. The alleged trouble started during the 1983 royal tour of Australia and New Zealand, when the Princess first expressed concern at leaving her children behind in London. The socializing Daily Mirror stirred up speculation. accusing her of calling Adeane a "fuddy-duddy" drawing on a storm of doubt.
When Adeane tried to plan a tour of Australia in 1984, he was accused of trying to manipulate State elections in Victoria for political purposes. In attempting to distance the Premier, Adeane was quoted in the Daily Mirror and other newspapers. The controversy behind the scenes stirred royal watchers to speculate that all was not well with the royal marriage when finally, the Prince and Princess of Wales stepped onto the Canberra tarmac early in October 1985. "Obviously the key to this confusion will depend on whether Prince Charles wishes to adhere to the advice given in your letter of 15 May, 1984, or not!" exclaimed a rather uppity courtier. The prince had changed the itinerary on several points, leaving an exasperated secretary to make a number of public pronouncements.What made matters worse was what assistant secretary called a "bombshell" dropped by RAAF which refused to carry the royal couple from Heathrow, but could only pick up from Bahrain or Singapore. Angry at being told to 'wait around' at foreign airports, Prince Charles deplored the chaos, and ultimately 'heads would roll.' It did not help matters that Major Ronald Ferguson, royal polo manager was imbroiled in the disorganized mess on board. The Australians objected to the mounting costs to the taxpayer; and the Americans suggested that on their leg, the RAF pick them up from Washington DC. Ironically Prince Charles cut the itinerary down to avoid inappropriate and stressful visits and not cost. But the consequences added to the growing disharmony in the royal household, for which Adeane had primary responsibility.
Adeane resigned after disagreements and accusations that he was taking decisions without consulting the prince, and being too much of the 'old school tie' about him. However Adeane found that the prince invariably did the opposite of what he was advised. An almost unprecedented state of affairs materialized on 19 March 1985, when the press were invited into Buckingham Palace to discuss relations. Evidently the last straw for Adeane he resigned on 31 March 1985. He was Equerry to the Prince of Wales 1979–1981, and was an Extra Equerry from 1985. He represented the Prince at Royal Household memorial services - and returned to practice at the Bar. His departure commenced a period of instability in royal sinecures, including the Queen's annus horribilis, with several private secretaries coming and going in short order. He was replaced by Sir John Riddell.
Adeane may have lost the prince's favour, but he continued to be a regular guest of the Queen Mother at Birkhall every September for the grouse shooting season.
From 1993 he was Trustee of the British Library, and trustee of the Leeds Castle Foundation 1991, and the Lambeth Palace Library 1991. A likeable man, and a popular figure, Adeane was not sporty at school but flourished in country pursuits later in life. He habitually ate out every meal, even at breakfast.
He was a company director from 1985, including of Hanson since 1992; Hambros Bank 1986 (executive director, compliance since 1991); Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance 1985; English and Scottish Investors Plc 1986; and Hambros Channel Islands Trust Corp Ltd.
Adeane never married and is survived by companion, Brent Snape.
- thePeerage.com – Person page 14133
- Wilmington Morning Star, quoting British press reports, April 22, 1977
- Ocala Star Banner, Sat Jan 12, 1985 citing Daily Express
- Sportsman Review, Spokane, WA, USA, citing Daily Mirror (Jan 11, 1985), p.14
- Sydney Morning Herald, November 26, 1989
- Sydney M H, Nov 26, 1989
- Ken Anderson, The Royals Down Under
- Canada Daily Mail, January 9, 1985
- Eagle, May 5, 1985, Parade Magazine, p.18
- Edward Adeane, courtier – obituary
- Obits., The Daily Telegraph, Friday, May 22, 2015, p.29
|Page of Honour
Sir David Checketts
|Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales