Ralph Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland

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The Duke of Northumberland
12th Duke of Northumberland Allan Warren.jpg
Portrait by Allan Warren in 1997
Tenure31 October 1995 (1995-10-31)
PredecessorHenry Percy
Other titlesLord Ralph Percy
BornRalph George Algernon Percy
(1956-11-16) 16 November 1956 (age 65)
United Kingdom
(m. 1979)
IssueLady Catherine Percy
George Percy, Earl Percy
Lady Melissa Trafelet
Lord Max Percy
HeirGeorge Percy, Earl Percy
ParentsHugh Percy, 10th Duke of Northumberland
Lady Elizabeth Montagu Douglas Scott

Ralph George Algernon Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland, DL (born 16 November 1956), styled Lord Ralph Percy until 1995, is a British hereditary peer and rural landowner and current head of the House of Percy.


Ralph Percy was born the second son (and one of seven children) of Hugh Percy, 10th Duke of Northumberland, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Lady Elizabeth Montagu Douglas Scott.

Percy attended Eton College, studied history at the University of Oxford, and then land management at 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.[1]

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.[2]

The Duke assists in managing Northumberland Estates (the corporation holding the ducal assets) which has many venture subsidiaries and associated trusts, which altogether own land and property in Northumberland, Scotland and to a lesser extent London, Surrey and Tyneside.[3] Ralph Percy was ranked at number 248 in the Sunday Times Rich List 2011, with an estimated wealth of £315 million. He or the corporation is the owner of Alnwick Castle, an ancestral ducal seat, as well as Warkworth Castle and Prudhoe Castle in Northumberland; Syon House and Syon Park in London; Hulne Park and Hulne Priory at Alnwick; Albury Park in Surrey, and other listed buildings such as Brizlee Tower.[4] Northumberland Estates manages 100,000 acres (400 km2): directly managing 4,000 acres (16 km2) of forestry and 20,000 acres (81 km2) of farmland, with approximately 100 tenant farmers managing the remaining bulk of the land.[5][6][7]

The 12th Duke's 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 subject to some criticism.[8] At much the same time, in response to a foot-and-mouth disease crisis, the Duke cut the rents of tenant farmers by 10 percent.[9] The Duke has showed opposition to certain wind farms. However, he adopted renewable energy in the restoration of a hydroelectric power generator.[10][11][12] The Duke is a sponsor of the NCEA Duke's Secondary School.

On 8 April 2014, the estate's management announced the date of a new art sale to raise £15 million to cover the costs of the Newburn flood caused by the failure of a culvert for which it was responsible on 25 September 2012.[13] The sales were completed by Sotheby's in July 2014.

In October 2021, the Duke was unsuccessful in his bid to build houses on the site of 37 allotments on his land, after over 900 people signed a petition to save the allotments, which are over a century old, and the local authority's planning committee voted to block the development. This came after the Duke had written to the allotment holders to tell them that if the development was blocked as a result of press coverage, then he would deny them access to the land.[14]

Marriage and children[edit]

Northumberland married Jane Richard on 21 July 1979 at Traquair Parish Church. They have four children:[citation needed]

  • Lord Max Ralph Percy (born 26 May 1990); married Princess Nora of Oettingen-Spielberg, daughter of Prince Albrecht of Oettingen-Spielberg and Angela Jank, on 15 July 2017[23] at the Mariä Himmelfahrt Castle Chapel at Schloss Hirschbrunn. The couple have one daughter:



Coat of arms of Ralph Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland
Coat of arms of the duke of Northumberland.png
A Coronet of a Duke
On a Chapeau Gules turned up Ermine a Lion statant with tail extended Azure
Quarterly: 1st and 4th grandquarters: 1st and 4th counterquartered: 1st and 4th, Or a Lion rampant Azure (Brabant and Lovaine); 2nd and 3rd, Gules three Lucies hauriant Argent (Lucy); 2nd and 3rd, Azure five Fusils conjoined in fess Or (Percy); 2nd and 3rd grandquarters: quarterly: 1st and 4th, Or three Bars wavy Gules (Drummond); 2nd and 3rd, Or a Lion's Head erased within a Double Tressure flory counterflory Gules (Drummond, coat of augmentation)
Dexter: a Lion rampant Azure; Sinister: a Lion rampant guardant Or ducally crowned of the last gorged with a Collar company Argent and Azure
Esperance En Dieu (Hope in God)


  1. ^ Barber, Lynne (3 August 2003). "Gardener's question time". The Observer. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  2. ^ "Mr Ralph Percy". Hansard. UK Parliament. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  3. ^ "The Northumberland Estates". Alnwick Castle website. The Northumberland Estates. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  4. ^ "History and Heritage". The Northumberland Estates. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  5. ^ "Farming". The Northumberland Estates. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  6. ^ "Sawmill and Forestry". The Northumberland Estates. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Duke's Plans Spark Suspicion". Northumberland Gazette. 7 February 2001. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  8. ^ "Duke hits back at £35m art sale critics". Northumberland Gazette. 16 January 2003. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  9. ^ "Duke slashes farm rents to ease rural crisis". Northumberland Gazette. 6 November 2002. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  10. ^ "Duke joins fight against windfarm". Northumberland Gazette. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  11. ^ "... while Duke lashes turbines as "ugly and noisy"". Northumberland Gazette. 2 December 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  12. ^ "Duke's hydro system taps into the past". Northumberland Estates. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  13. ^ "Duke of Northumberland plans £15m art sale to cover flood bill". The Journal. 8 April 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  14. ^ " 'Peasants revolt' stops duke from bulldozing allotments" by Rachel Burford, in the Evening Standard, 15 October 2021, p. 12
  15. ^ "Cluff Geothermal: the team". Archived from the original on 16 November 2011.
  16. ^ "Mr T. van Straubenzee and Lady Melissa Percy". The Daily Telegraph. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  17. ^ "Thomas van Straubenzee and Lady Melissa Percy 2014".
  18. ^ "Princess Charlotte to be christened at Sandringham". BBC News.
  19. ^ "Duke of Northumberland's daughter gets divorced". ITV News.
  20. ^ "Telegraph Marriage Announcements". Telegraph. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Telegraph Birth Announcements". Telegraph. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  22. ^ Cope, Rebecca (25 February 2020). "The Duke of Northumberland's daughter, Lady Melissa Percy, has given birth to her first child". Tatler. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  23. ^ "Verliebt in Schottland, verheiratet in Dornstadt". Augsburger Allgemeine.
  24. ^ Gillan, Tony (7 August 2019). "Duke and Duchess of Northumberland celebrate birth of their first grandchild". www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  25. ^ "Another royal wedding: Saudi prince marries Englishwoman". CBS News. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2012.

External links[edit]

Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by Duke of Northumberland
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
The Duke of Northumberland
Succeeded by