Henry Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort

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The Duke of Beaufort

10th Duke of Beaufort 3 Allan Warren.jpg
The Duke of Beaufort by Allan Warren
Master of the Horse
In office
February 1936 – 1978
MonarchEdward VIII
George VI
Elizabeth II
Preceded byBernard Forbes, 8th Earl of Granard
Succeeded byDavid Fane, 15th Earl of Westmorland
4th Chancellor of the University of Bristol
In office
Preceded bySir Winston Churchill
Succeeded byDorothy Hodgkin
Personal details
Born(1900-04-04)4 April 1900
Died5 February 1984(1984-02-05) (aged 83)
Badminton House, Gloucestershire, England
Spouse(s)Lady Victoria Constance Mary Cambridge
ParentsHenry Somerset, 9th Duke of Beaufort
Louise Harford

Henry Hugh Arthur FitzRoy Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort KG, GCVO, GCC, 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 42 years (1936-1978), longer than anybody else. He also founded the Badminton Horse Trials. "The greatest fox-hunter of the twentieth century",[1] his long tenure as Master of the Beaufort Hunt led to his being universally nicknamed Master.

Background and education[edit]

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 the Dutch baron Charles Frederic van Tuyll van Serooskerken (1859–1893) with whom she had two sons. He was educated at Eton College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, from which he was commissioned into the Royal Horse Guards.

Military service[edit]

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.

Public appointments[edit]

The Duke in 1923
Garter-encircled coat of arms of Henry Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George's Chapel.

After the International Horse Show of 1933 was abandoned, a new committee headed by the young Beaufort succeeded in re-establishing the event at Olympia in 1934.[2]

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.[3]

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. In 1955, Francisco Craveiro Lopes, President of the Portuguese Republic, awarded him the Grand Cross of the Order of Christ.[4]

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.

Other offices held included President of the MCC, Bristol Rovers F.C., the British Olympic Association, the Battersea Dogs Home, and the Anchor Society in Bristol in 1969.


Family and private life[edit]

The 10th Duke at Badminton House, by Allan Warren

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; however, on 17 July 1917, King George V appeased British nationalist feelings by issuing a royal proclamation that changed the name of the British royal house from the German-sounding House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the House of Windsor.[5] He and all his British relatives relinquished their German titles and styles, and adopted British-sounding surnames. George compensated his male relatives by creating them British peers. Mary's father was made Marquess of Cambridge, and she was afterwards known as Lady Mary Cambridge until her marriage.

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 the Duke 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".[6] His car bore the private numberplate MFH1.

Among the Duke's myriad personal friends was David Niven;[7] 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.[8] The Duke 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".[9]

The Duke and Duchess 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 funerals so as to avoid distracting attention, went to his, as did most other members of the Royal Family. 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.[10] The dukedom passed to his distant cousin, David, to whom, however, he was close: David and his family had lived on and helped run the estate for many years [11]

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.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Masters, Brian, The Dukes: the Origins, Ennoblement and History of Twenty-Six Families, Pimlico, London, 2001, Pgs 9-32
  2. ^ 'International Horse Show Revival at Olympia' in The Times, issue 46787 dated June 22, 1934, p. 6, col. G
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  5. ^ "No. 30186". The London Gazette. 17 July 1917. p. 7119.
  6. ^ Masters, Brian, The Dukes: the Origins, Ennoblement and History of Twenty-Six Families, Pimlico, London, 2001, Pg188
  7. ^ Beaufort, Henry, Duke of, Memoirs, Country Life, London, 1981, Pg154
  8. ^ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/6099869/James-Lees-Milne-How-I-hate-meeting-royalty.html.
  9. ^ Beaufort, Henry, Duke of, Memoirs, Country Life, London, 1981, Pg103
  10. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2507&dat=19841227&id=3LZAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vaUMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2770,4847913&hl=en
  11. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-caroline-beaufort-1617726.html.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Granard
Master of the Horse
Succeeded by
The Earl of Westmorland
Academic offices
Preceded by
Winston Churchill
Chancellor of the University of Bristol
Succeeded by
Dorothy Hodgkin
Court offices
Preceded by
The Earl Beauchamp
Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire
Succeeded by
Martin Gibbs
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Malcolm MacDonald
Senior Privy Counsellor
Succeeded by
The Lord Balfour of Inchrye
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Henry Somerset
Duke of Beaufort
Succeeded by
David Somerset
Baron Botetourt
In abeyance
Baron Herbert
In abeyance
Title next held by
David Seyfried-Herbert, 2002