Valerian Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington
Brigadier Arthur Valerian Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington, (2 July 1915 – 31 December 2014), styled Marquess of Douro between 1943 and 1972, was a senior British peer and a brigadier in the British Army. His main residence was Stratfield Saye House in Hampshire.
Background and education
Wellington was born in Rome, Italy, on 2 July 1915, the son of Lord Gerald Wellesley, future 7th Duke of Wellington, by his wife Dorothy Violet, daughter of Robert Ashton. He had one younger sister, the socialite Lady Elizabeth Clyde, whose son is the actor and musician Jeremy Clyde.
At the time of Wellington's birth, his father Gerald was the third son of the 4th Duke of Wellington, with little prospect of succeeding to the family's estates and titles. Wellington was 28 when his first cousin Henry, the 6th Duke, was killed in action aged 31 while serving in Italy during the Second World War. Wellington's father then became the 7th Duke, and Wellington himself came to be known by the courtesy title Marquess of Douro. He was known by this moniker between 1943 and 1972, when he became 8th Duke upon the death of his father.
Wellington was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Territorial Army in 1936, and was commissioned with the same rank (on probation) in the British Army Reserve in 1939. In 1940, he was given a full commission as a second lieutenant in the Royal Horse Guards Regiment, with the service number 68268. He served in the Second World War with the 1st Household Cavalry Regiment in the Middle East and Italy, during which time he was awarded the Military Cross, and promoted to the war substantive rank of captain. Following the war, the 1st Household Cavalry Regiment disbanded, and he returned to Royal Horse Guards, where he was promoted to lieutenant in 1946, and advanced to the rank of captain later that year. He received successive promotions to major in 1951, and to lieutenant colonel in 1954, rising to command of his regiment. Seeing service in Cyprus between 1956 and 1958, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1958.
He then moved to the Household Cavalry Regiment, which he began commanding in 1959. Promoted to colonel in 1960, he commanded the 22nd Armoured Brigade (1960–1961), served as Commander, Royal Armoured Corps in the I(BR) Corps of the British Army of the Rhine, and became defence attaché to Spain in 1964. He retired from the Army in 1968 and was granted the honorary rank of brigadier.
Wellington was appointed the Colonel-in-Chief of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment in 1974, making him the only non-royal Colonel-in-Chief. After its absorption into the Yorkshire Regiment, he was appointed Deputy Colonel-in-Chief of the new regiment. He was also Deputy Colonel of The Blues and Royals and an Honorary Colonel of the 2nd Battalion, Wessex Regiment.
Later life and death
Wellington was involved in business as a Director of Massey Ferguson Holdings Ltd from 1967 to 1989 and of Motor Iberica SA (Spain) from 1967 to 1999. He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire on 18 April 1975. Through his final years, the Duke continued to conduct public engagements, most recently at the Order of the Garter investiture, 16 June 2014.
Wellington died peacefully at his home, Stratfield Saye Estate, near Basingstoke, on New Year's Eve 2014, six months before the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, and seven months before his 100th birthday.
Marriage and issue
Wellington was twice engaged to Lady Rose Paget, the daughter of Charles Paget, 6th Marquess of Anglesey, who eventually married the Hon. John Francis McLaren. On 28 January 1944 he married Diana Ruth McConnel (1922–2010), only daughter of Major-General Douglas McConnel, of Knockdolian, Colmonell, Ayr, at St. George's Cathedral, Jerusalem. With Diana, he had five children:
- Arthur Charles Valerian Wellesley, 9th Duke of Wellington, 10th Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo (19 August 1945); married Princess Antonia of Prussia.
- Lord Richard Gerald Wellesley (20 June 1949); married Joanna Sumner on 14 July 1973. They have two daughters.
- Lady (Caroline) Jane Wellesley (6 July 1951)
- Lord John Henry Wellesley (20 April 1954); married Corinne Vaes, daughter of a Belgian diplomat, on 7 May 1977. They have two children.
- Lord (James) Christopher Douglas Wellesley (16 December 1964); married 1) Laura Wedge in 1994 and they were divorced in 2005. 2) Emma Nethercott, with whom he had a daughter, Skye (2006-2021).
Titles and styles
- 2 July 1915 – 16 September 1943: Valerian Wellesley
- 16 September 1943 – 4 January 1972: Marquess of Douro
- 4 January 1972 – 31 December 2014: His Grace The Duke of Wellington
- (Spain): The Most Excellent The Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo (4 January 1972 – 21 May 2010)
- (Belgium and the Netherlands): His Serene Highness The Prince of Waterloo (4 January 1972 – 31 December 2014)
He was the 9th Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo (Duque de Ciudad Rodrigo) of the Kingdom of Spain, but on 10 March 2010 he ceded the Spanish Dukedom to his eldest child, Charles Wellesley, Marquess of Douro. In accordance with Spanish procedure, Lord Douro petitioned formal claim to the title with the Spanish authorities. King Juan Carlos of Spain, through his Minister, granted the succession of the dukedom to Douro on 21 May 2010.
Honours and decorations
|Knight of the Order of the Garter (KG)||April 1990|
|Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO)||1952, as Member (Fourth Class); re-designated Lieutenant in 1984|
|Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)||1958 (Military Division)|
|Military Cross (MC)||1941|
|Officer of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (OStJ)|
|France and Germany Star|
|War Medal 1939–1945|
|General Service Medal||with 'Cyprus' clasp and MID|
|Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal||1953|
|Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal||1977|
|Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal||2002|
|Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal||2012|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic||Spain|
|Officer of the Légion d'honneur||France|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Michael of the Wing||Portugal (dynastic order)|
On 26 December 1941, as Second Lieutenant Wellesley, Wellesley was awarded the Military Cross "in recognition of distinguished services in the Middle East (including Egypt, East Africa, The Western Desert, The Sudan, Greece, Crete, Syria and Tobruk) during the period February, 1941, to July, 1941."
Wellington was appointed a Member (Fourth Class) of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) on 15 March 1952. Membership (Fourth Class) was redesignated Lieutenant in 1984, thus adjusting his post-nominal letters to LVO. He was made an Officer (Military) of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on 7 February 1958 "in recognition of distinguished services in Cyprus for the period 1st July to 31st December, 1957".
In April 1990, he was further honoured by the Queen as a Knight of the Garter. His foreign honours include appointments as Officer of the Légion d'honneur, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael of the Wing of Portugal and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Isabel La Catolica of Spain. Wellington was also an Officer of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (OStJ).
Wellesley was elected a Fellow of King's College London (FKC).
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- "No. 52120". The London Gazette. 24 April 1990. p. 8251.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Duke of Wellington
- The Yorkshire Regiment (14th/15th, 19th and 33rd/76th Foot
- Debrett's People of Today
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