The 11th Duke of Beaufort died peacefully yesterday (16 August) at home at Badminton aged 89.
The duke, who was born David Somerset and inherited the title from his cousin the 10th duke in 1984, played a significant part in the worlds of eventing and hunting.
He was an excellent horseman who finished second at Badminton Horse Trials – the event founded by the 10th Duke in 1949 and held on the estate ever since – in 1959 aboard Countryman III, and was a keen hunting man.
He joined the mastership of the family pack of hounds, the Duke of Beaufort’s, in 1974 and continued as joint-master until his death.
Former Horse & Hound editor Michael Clayton, who knew the Duke well and often stayed at Badminton, said: “He was a charming man with wide interests, and a wonderful host. He preserved the traditions of Badminton and generously kept the hunt and the kennels going at a high level, while using his good business sense to develop the estate in every way.”
Hugh Thomas, who has been director of Badminton Horse Trials since 1989, said: “David was always very interested in what was going on with the horse trials without ever wishing to interfere in the detail. If I went to discuss something about the cross-country course with him, I always found that he was there before me and knew what was going on!
“He was very supportive of the event, of me and of the whole team. I will miss him terribly.”
Capt Ian Farquhar, joint-master with the duke for 33 years, said: “No one could have wished for a better joint-master. I don’t think we ever had a cross word, and he was adored in the country — by farmers and by everyone else.
“He was a very fine horseman and had a wonderful eye for quality in people, pictures, horses, hounds and the countryside.”
The duke was firstly married to Lady Caroline Thynne, who helped him to restore and maintain both the estate and Badminton house and its gardens. They had four children together.
She died in 1995 and in 2000 he married Miranda Morley who, as Miranda Beaufort, has competed at a high level in dressage.
There will be a service of thanksgiving for the life of David, Duke of Beaufort at noon on Friday, 25 August at St Michael and All Angels Church, Badminton.
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