Henry Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort
The Duke of Beaufort
KG, GCVO, PC
The Duke of Beaufort
|Master of the Horse|
February 1936 – 1978
|Preceded by||Bernard Forbes, 8th Earl of Granard|
|Succeeded by||David Fane, 15th Earl of Westmorland|
|Born||4 April 1900|
|Died||5 February 1984|
|Spouse(s)||Lady Victoria Constance Mary Cambridge|
Henry Hugh Arthur FitzRoy Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort KG, GCVO, PC (4 April 1900 – 5 February 1984), styled Marquess of Worcester until 1924, was an English peer, Gloucestershire landowner, leading figure in the equestrian world, and society figure. A relative and very close friend of the Royal Family, he held the office of Master of the Horse for forty-two years (1936-1978), longer than anybody else. He also founded the Badminton Horse Trials. "The greatest fox-hunter of the twentieth century", his long tenure as Master of the Beaufort Hunt led to his being universally nicknamed Master.
Background and education
Somerset was the youngest child and only son of Henry Somerset, 9th Duke of Beaufort (1847-1924) and his wife, Louise Emily Harford (1864-1945), a Gloucestershire native who had been married previously to a Dutch count. He was educated at Eton College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, from which he was commissioned into the Royal Horse Guards.
Beaufort left the Army after a few years with the rank of lieutenant. He was Honorary Colonel of the 21st (Royal Gloucestershire Hussars) Armoured Car Company, Territorial Army between 1969 and 1971 and Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry between 1971 and 1984, and the Warwickshire Yeomanry between 1971 and 1972.
Beaufort was Master of the Horse (1936–1978) to three British sovereigns, Edward VIII, George VI, and Elizabeth II. As such he took part in royal functions, such as the 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) in 1930, a Privy Counsellor in 1936, a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1937 and was awarded the decoration of the Royal Victorian Chain in 1953.
He was Steward of Tewkesbury between 1948 and 1984, Hereditary Keeper of Raglan Castle (an office created by his ancestor William ap Thomas, the Blue Knight of Gwent), Lord Lieutenant of Bristol from 1931 to 1974 and Lord High Steward of Bristol, Tewkesbury and Gloucestershire. He also held the office of Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire between 1931 and 1984 and was Chancellor of the University of Bristol from 1965 to 1970.
|Ancestors of Henry Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort|
Family and private life
Beaufort married the Lady Victoria Constance Mary Cambridge (1897–1987), daughter of Adolphus Cambridge, 1st Marquess of Cambridge on 14 June 1923. She had been born with the title Princess Mary of Teck but her family had changed their names to show their solidarity with the nation during World War I. Her paternal aunt was Queen Mary, wife of King George V, so Kings Edward VIII and George VI were her first cousins. The Beauforts were among the closest friends of the Royal Family; Queen Mary lived at Badminton during World War II, and the royals came to stay several times a year, particularly for the Horse Trials which usually included the Queen's birthday.
A biographer describes him as "as tough as nails. His routine involved getting up at seven o'clock and riding round the estate before breakfast to see what was going on. He knew the 120 men who worked on his estate far better than any factory boss knows his staff. No decision concerning the estate was taken without the Duke's active authority. He answered all his own letters...until he retired to the rear of the pack in 1966, the sight of the Duke of Beaufort at the head of the hunt was one of the greatest spectacles to be seen in England". His car bore the private numberplate MFH1.
Among the Duke's myriad personal friends were David Niven, and during World War II he hosted Eleanor Roosevelt and Haile Selassie at Badminton. James Lees-Milne, the conservationist, rented a house next door and records their poor relationship in his celebrated diaries—he thought the Duke was "feudal". He was "a legendary womaniser" who conducted affairs with, among others, Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk and Sally, Duchess of Westminster, a cousin of his wife's. He wrote his memoirs in 1981 which discuss his family history, the story of Badminton House, his royal duties, and the development of fox-hunting. At one point he bluntly declares that "obviously, the hunting of the fox has been my chief concern".
They had no issue. Beaufort died in 1984, aged 83 at his seat, Badminton House, and was buried at St Michael and All Angels Church, Badminton. Unusually, the Queen, who does not usually attend them so as to avoid distracting attention, went to his funeral, as did most other royals. On Boxing Day 1984, animal-rights activists vandalised his grave; they had originally planned to disinter his remains and send his head to Princess Anne. The dukedom passed to his distant cousin, David, to whom however he was close as David and his family lived on and helped run the estate for many years 
On his death, the baronies of Botetourt and Herbert fell into abeyance between the several descendants of his elder sister, Lady Blanche Linnie Douglas (d. 1968)—between the two daughters of his elder niece Lady Rosemary Rubens (who predeceased him in 1963) who inherited a fourth share each in two baronies, and his surviving niece Lady Cathleen Hudson (who d. 1994) who inherited the junior half share in the baronies. The abeyance of the Herbert barony was eventually terminated in 2002 in favour of his great-nephew David John Seyfried.
- Masters, Brian, The Dukes: the Origins, Ennoblement and History of Twenty-Six Families, Pimlico, London, 2001, Pgs 9-32
- 'International Horse Show Revival at Olympia' in The Times, issue 46787 dated June 22, 1934, p. 6, col. G
- Royal Collection: Seating plan for the Ball Supper Room http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/microsites/royalwedding1947/object.asp?grouping=&exhibs=NONE&object=9000366&row=82&detail=magnify
- Masters, Brian, The Dukes: the Origins, Ennoblement and History of Twenty-Six Families, Pimlico, London, 2001, Pg188
- Beaufort, Henry, Duke of, Memoirs, Country Life, London, 1981, Pg154
- Beaufort, Henry, Duke of, Memoirs, Country Life, London, 1981, Pg103
- Paul Theroff. An Online Gotha – Beaufort. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Duke of Beaufort
- Henry Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort
- Ancestry at Geni.com
The Earl of Granard
|Master of the Horse
The Earl of Westmorland
|Chancellor of the University of Bristol
The Earl Beauchamp
|Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire
|Senior Privy Counsellor
The Lord Balfour of Inchrye
|Peerage of England|
|Duke of Beaufort
Title next held byDavid Seyfried-Herbert, 2002