By Clive Kandel
Now you didn’t really think the Duke wore this at Waterloo when he finished off Napoleon, did you? Gerald Wellesley, 7th Duke of Wellington, had died in 1972 and there was a large private sale of precious jewels and collections to cover some of the death duties. The best were the famed Wellington Gems of intaglio, bought by S.J. Phillips amongst the other jewels.
I bought this Cartier brooch from S.J. Phillips for around 4,000 pounds in the late 1970s. The Duke had written in ink on the silk lining of the lid “To Dorothy Xmas 1935 from Gerald”. The Duke was called “The Iron Duchess” for his strict, prim and proper ladylike manners. His wife, the Duchess Dorothy, later became the lover of Vita Sackville-West. The irony is that in those days, being known as “a friend of Dorothy” was polite code for being gay. A further irony is that they produced a son, Valerian, who was perhaps the most stunningly handsome, Adonis-like young man of the day. He became the 8th Duke and a close friend of the Queen, passing away in 2014. How was all of this possible without Oprah Winfrey? Discretion was polite society.
I have often said to the junior masters of the Universe “I was there.”