Badminton’s president, the Duke of Beaufort, dies at 89

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David Somerset, the 11th Duke of Beaufort.
David Somerset, the 11th Duke of Beaufort. © Allan Warren  [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
David Somerset, the 11th Duke of Beaufort, and the president of the Badminton Horse Trials, has died at the age of 89.

The duke died peacefully at his home on the Gloucestershire estate, on Wednesday, August 16.

He is survived by his second wife, Miranda, and four children Harry, Anne, Edward and John, and is succeeded by his eldest son Harry, The Marquess of Worcester. His first wife, Lady Caroline Jane Thynne, died in 1995.

He was a sixth cousin, once removed, of Queen Elizabeth II, through their common ancestor William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire.

The duke held the office of Hereditary Keeper of Raglan Castle, was President of the British Horse Society between 1988 and 1990, and was chairman of Marlborough Fine Art. He ranked 581st in the 2008 Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated wealth of £135m in land.

The Duke was nominated to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1988.

As a rider, David Somerset finished second at Badminton in 1959 on Countryman III. He was also heavily involved in hunting, and until his death was joint master of the family’s pack of hounds, the Duke of Beaufort’s.

The four-star Badminton Horse Trials is the most famous three-day-event in the world, and is held in May every year. It is one of the biggest events on the British sporting calendar, drawing thousands of spectators.

The Badminton Horse Trials was first launched in 1949, when the 10th Duke of Beaufort – Henry Hugh Arthur FitzRoy Somerset – had the idea to hold an event at his Gloucestershire Estate for British riders to train for future international events, particularly the Olympics. The 10th Duke was David Somerset’s cousin, from whom he inherited the title. His father, Henry Robert Somers Fitzroy de Vere Somerset, was the grandson of Lord Henry Somerset, second son of the 8th Duke of Beaufort.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced, but a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of David, Duke of Beaufort will take place 12 noon on Friday, August 25 at St Michael and All Angels Church, Badminton.

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