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Gerald Lascelles

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John Blake

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 then lived.

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!

John Blake – June 2017

Honourable Gerald Lascelles
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