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Cecil ‘Robin’ Douglas-Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 



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Cecil ‘Robin’ Douglas-Home (5th may 1932 - 5th October 1968) )was a Scottish aristocrat, jazz pianist and author, whose tragic life abutted with those of a more famous nature. So much so, that by his mid-thirties, the attraction and allure of leading a life with the ‘great’ & ‘famous’ brought him to the end of his tether!

Robin Douglas-Home was the eldest son of the Honourable Henry Douglas-Home, from his first marriage to Lady Margaret Spencer. A scion of several noble houses, Douglas-Home was the grandson paternally of, Charles Douglas-Home, 13th Earl of Home by his wife, Lady Lillian Lambton, and the maternal grandson of, Charles Spencer, 6th Earl Spencer by his wife, the Honourable Margaret Baring. His uncle was the former British Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home (formerly 14th Earl of Home) and his younger brother Charles Douglas-Home edited The Times.

As a young man, Douglas-Home was a popular jazz pianist and as a result, he was a leading society figure and ‘man about town’ during the 1950s and 1960s.

In the late 1950s he had a relationship with Princess Margaretha of Sweden, eldest granddaughter of King Gustav VI Adolf. In spite of his blue blooded background, the course of true love did not run smoothly with the princess and according to the press they were refused permission to marry by her mother, Princess Sibylla, notwithstanding a subsequent statement from King Gustaf VI Adolf saying, "The King has not imposed any ban on the marriage in question".

Robin commented to friends: 'The whole idea was to keep her incommunicado from me. They couldn't stomach the thought of their royal blood mixing with a drop of vintage club pianist brew. But I am afraid they were a bit late for that.

I rattled off a formal letter asking for Margaretha's hand in marriage though I recognized, right from the outset, that my chances of being accepted by the family were somewhat less probable than the survival of the proverbial cat in hell.

I was given no opportunity to push my proposal in person for almost a year and, even then, under almost total watchdog conditions. We had privately swapped troths in London and I knew her love for me was utterly genuine. As was mine for her.

But her whole family was lined up against me. She was left in no doubt by old King Gustav that she would forfeit all her royal rights if she married a commoner. She had that problem as well as love affair with me, in common with Princess Margaret.

They both plumped up for the rights and privileges when it mattered - and who, say I, could blame them.

My uncle may have been the Earl of Home, Leader of the Conservatives in the House of Lords, Secretary for Commonwealth Relations and Lord President of the Council but I was still considered to be of pretty low stock by the Swedish Royal Family.

Margaretha's mother, Sibylla, wanted no time in answering my proposal of marriage. The letter came back within a fortnight. The answer was brief and gave not the slightest possibiliy of but one interpretation. It was "No!"'

However, Princess Margaretha's nanny and confidante Ingrid Björnberg states categorically in her memoirs that the breakup between the two was not due to Princess Sibylla refusing to permit them to marry, but because Princess Margaretha did not wish to marry him.

There might be some truth to this, since Princess Margaretha’s eventual mate was not the much hoped for prince, deemed suitable by the Bernadotte’s, but an English businessman, and a non aristocratic one at that!

Princess Margaretha met her future husband, John Ambler, at a dinner party in the United Kingdom in 1963. By February 28, 1964, seven years after the end of her relationship with Douglas-Home, Princess Margaretha's engagement was announced without much fanfare, to the British citizen, John Kenneth Ambler. They were married on June 30, 1964, in Gärdslösa Church, Gärdslösa, on the isle of Öland. As a result of her unequal marriage, she lost her style of Royal Highness and became Princess Margaretha, Mrs. Ambler.

With her marriage, as plain Mrs. Ambler, Princess Margaretha put an end to her life as a public person, as she moved to the United Kingdom, where she lived an anonymous life and did not perform any official engagements on behalf of the Swedish Royal Family.

Rebounding sooner, Douglas-Home married eighteen year old fashion model Sandra Claire Paul on July 9, 1959. The daughter of Wing Commander Saville Paul, a RAF doctor, she was, it turns out, one of Britain's most highly paid fashion models by the time of her marriage. Working alongside such names as Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy, Sandra Paul, graced the covers of Vogue with the best in the business. Such was her popularity, that she was also featured on the cover of American Vogue for two months in a row, having been photographed by David Bailey and Norman Parkinson.

They met through the advertising agency where Douglas-Home worked, when she was chosen as the face to launch Dove soap. Together the couple had a son on September 1, 1962, Alexander Sholto Douglas-Home, who was conceived at Frank Sinatra's house in Palm Springs, and had Ol' Blue Eyes as a godfather.

A talented writer, Douglas-Home was the author of an authorized biography of Sinatra (1962) and had four novels published, including Hot for Certainties (1964) which won the Author's Club First Novel Award. Additionally, he also penned a number of articles for journals and magazines such as Queen and Woman's Own.

Not long after the birth of his son, Douglas-Home fathered a child by Nico, Marchioness of Londonderry. At the time of the baby’s birth, the little girl was unwittingly recognized by the Marquess of Londonderry as his own daughter. The truth would remain a secret until the late 1990’s when Lady Cosima Somerset announced that her biological father was Robin Douglas-Home.

Sadly, by 1965, the couple were divorced, coinciding at the time with Douglas-Home’s romance with Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. Eventually, his divorce was the subject of a BBC television documentary by Alan Whicker.

At the time of their meeting, Princess Margaret was, by now, tormented by the deterioration of her own marriage and seeking solace, had a one-month liaison with Robin Douglas-Home, ending rather abruptly when she decided to try to save her relationship with Snowdon. The princess later claimed the relationship was purely platonic, but her letters to him, which were later sold, were intimate in nature.

Douglas-Home committed suicide 18 months after the split with Margaret, on October 15, 1968, aged 36, having suffered for years with clinical depression.

Undoubtedly distraught, Princess Margaret did not attend his funeral.

Their affair would have remained secret. But, to the Princess's great distress, affectionate letters from her to Douglas-Home were to surface almost 30 years later, in a book by Noel Botham, the tabloid journalist.

 

 

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