Did you know that a member of the royal family was once a
Ford Motor Company trainee?
The Hon. Gerald Lascelles was born on 21st
August 1924 to Mary, Princess Royal and her husband the 6th Earl of Harewood.
His grandparents were King George V and Queen Mary and he was 7th in
line to the throne at the time of his birth. His godparents included the Prince
of Wales (later ex- Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor) and the Duchess of York
(later Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother).
During childhood he and his older brother, George, Viscount
Lascelles, were very close to their first cousins Princess Elizabeth and
Princess Margaret and regularly played together. As a baby “her chief
expeditions were to Chesterford House; there, she dominated her favourite
cousins George and Gerald Lascelles. Early made aware of her superior
importance these two boys would place their toy soldiers before her, and if she
felt like abducting the playthings the brothers were unable to oppose her”.
(Higham and Morley. Elizabeth and Philip.1991).
In 1937 Gerald was a page at the Coronation of his uncle,
King George V. The National Portrait Gallery has 33 photographs featuring
Lascelles including those taken for that event.
Eton educated, Gerald served with the Rifle Brigade during
World War II.
Gerald became keenly interested in motor mechanics from an
early age and he was employed by Ford at Dagenham from late 1940s to until
early 1952 during which time he worked in many departments learning all sides
of the motor industry.
Gerald represented the company in the tractor section at
the Royal Show in Cambridge in July 1951 and was on hand to welcome his mother
to the stand.
In July 1952 he married actress Angela Dowding at St.
Margaret’s, Westminster and many of his Ford colleagues were invited to the
ceremony, which was attended by most of the royal family, and to the reception at
St. James’s Palace. The Ford Works News reported that “a set of three beautiful
antique silver sugar bowls, made in 1816 by Emes V. Barnard were to be given by
the Ford guests. The couple eventually settled at Fort Belvedere, Windsor –
once the home of Gerald’s uncle the Duke of Windsor.
Ford Works News reported that Gerald left the company to
organise the family sugar plantations in Barbados.
Scandal ensued when it emerged that he had a son by
Elizabeth Collingwood while he was still married to Angela, whom he later
divorced to marry the mother of his illegitimate child.
From 1964 until 1991 Gerald was president of the British
Racing Drivers’ Club. A keen motor racing fan, he was often seen at circuits at
home and abroad and is credited with helping to put the sport back on the map.
Another great passion was jazz and he helped organise the
Leeds Music Festival.
Lascelles died in 1998 aged 73 in Bergerac, France where he
At his birth Gerald, the second grandson of the King and
Queen, was close to the throne and the family often in the news; at the time of
writing his little known eldest son Henry Ulick is 66th in line!