Royals attend memorial service for the late Duke of Wellington

Members of the Royal Family today attended a memorial service for the late Duke of Wellington. Royal news

Her Majesty, The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were joined by The Duke of York, The Princess Royal, The Countess of Wessex and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. Unusually, only The Duke of Kent was to attend the service.

The Duke of Wellington, who was the eighth incumbent of the title, died on 31st December 2014, at the age of 99. Arthur Valerian Wellesley was a direct descendent of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.

A service of thanksgiving for the Duke’s life held in February was a Royal affair, including guests such as The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke of Kent, The Duke of Gloucester, and Prince Michael of Kent. Other aristocrats, such as The Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, also attended.

The service today was held at The Guard’s Chapel, around the corner from Buckingham Palace. Singer James Blunt was also in attendance, having married the Duke’s granddaughter, Lady Sofia Wellesley.

Arthur Valerian was also a prosperous soldier like his famous ancestor; he joined the army in 1939, and fought in the Middle East, winning a Military Cross in 1941. By 1974 he was the colonel-in-chief of The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, and following the amalgamation into the Yorkshire Regiment, he became deputy colonel-in-chief (to The Duke of York) until 2007.

The Duke of Wellington, who inherited the title in 1972, devoted his life to the family estate, Stratfield Saye in Hampshire, which had belonged to the 1st Duke. He was keen to preserve it, as his father, Gerald, had neglected the property; Arthur Valerian was forced to attempt to repair and conserve the house, whilst avoiding financial ruin. He earned himself a place in the Order of the Garter in 1984.

Sir Anthony Seldon, headmaster of the school set up in honour of the first Duke said: ‘He personified service, hard work, dignity and enthusiasm.’

The Queen wore purple and later attended the first Buckingham Palace Garden Party of the year.

Photo: David Holt

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