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Cocaine, Ibiza and lunch with Diana

By Kara Kennedy THE UNLIKELY DUKE by Harry Beaufort

320pp, Hodder, £19.99 (0844 871 1514), RRP£25, ebook £14.99 ÌÌÌÌÌ

Before I’d even laid eyes on The Unlikely Duke, the memoir of Harry, 12th Duke of Beaufort, I’d already set the scene in my head. With the few details I knew, such as his being in a rock band (the Listening Device), and the publisher’s claim that this is “the story of an ordinary man facing up to his extraordinary inheritance”, I pictured a dishevelled ageing rocker, hungover in bed one day, hearing a knock at the door – a stranger comes to tell old Harry that he, unknowingly, is the heir to the dukedom of Beaufort, and must immediately move to Badminton House, which sits amid 52,000 acres, with nothing but his guitar.

Yet the 12th Duke of Beaufort isn’t an unlikely duke at all. He was, quite literally, born for the role. And after an education at Hawtrey’s prep school and Eton College, Henry John FitzRoy Somerset, affectionately known to those in his circle as “Bunter”, embarked on a degree in rural estate management at the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester, learning how to run the large estate that he would one day inherit, in addition to regular meetings with the land agent and his father, David (the 11th Duke, and fifth cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II).

Harry Beaufort grew up in extraordinary circles. From his childhood, in which the overbearingly strict but caring Nanny Nelson was the first to inform Harry of his “future duke potential”, to lunching with Diana, Princess of Wales, where Beaufort “plonked some leftovers from lunch onto the table” and handed her a spoon, the memoir is packed with the sort of aristocratic gossip usually reserved for the society pages of Tatler.

Royals aside, Beaufort has rubbed shoulders with celebrities from Eric Clapton, Roger Waters

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