An aristocrat responsible for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II has been banned from driving for six months after being caught by police running a red light while driving his BMW through London and talking to his wife on the phone.
His Grace The Duke of Norfolk, Edward William Fitzalan-Howard, 65, appeared at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court after being caught by the officers who told the court he appeared to run a red light while not paying attention.
The Duke pleaded guilty to one count of driving his six year-old blue three-litre diesel BMW while using a hand-held device in Battersea Park Road, south-west London on April 7.
The Oxford-educated father of five, who is a descendant of Elizabeth I, was also fined £800, with £350 costs and ordered to pay an £80 victim surcharge.
His Grace received six penalty points for using his mobile phone.
‘That means, as you know, you will be disqualified for six months because you have more than twelve points on your licence,’ magistrate Judith Way told him.
‘We have been advised of the test for exceptional hardship and it is the burden of the defendant to show exceptional hardship,’ announced magistrate Judith Way.
Before the ruling was handed down, his Grace had tried to argue it was necessary for him to keep his licence.
The highest-ranking duke in England argued he would suffer ‘exceptional hardship’ if he was disqualified, highlighting his official duties along with his conservation work to prevent ‘nature’s complete collapse’ and ‘the end of mankind’.
In his hereditary role as Earl Marshal he told the court he is in charge of the coronation of King Charles III and asked for part of the hearing to be held in private in the interests of ‘national security’, while his legal team told the court he needed to be able to drive to ensure the organisation went smoothly.
His Grace, of Arundel Castle, Arundel, Sussex already has nine penalty points on his driving licence for two speeding offences and this latest conviction means he has been subjected to the minimum six-month ban under totting rules.
Dismissing The Duke’s application to keep his licence, Ms Way said: ‘We have heard sworn evidence from the defendant.
‘We accept this is a unique case because of the defendant’s role in society and his role in the King’s coronation and even though inconvenience may be caused we do not find exceptional hardship.
‘We know the need for security clearance for any driver and we do not think this is insurmountable for his high-profile role.
‘We believe the defendant has the means to employ a driver.’
Pictured: The Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk (centre), at Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court, London, where he pleaded guilty to using his mobile phone while driving after being caught by police officers talking to his wife while behind the wheel
The Duke of Norfolk Edward Fitzalan-Howard (pictured), planned the Queen’s funeral and will organise the King’s coronation
Earlier Ms Dardashti told the magistrates: ‘His Grace will be able to pay any penalty you impose.’
Arguing the Crown’s case earlier today, prosecutor Jonathan Bryan told the court: ‘Officers were in a vehicle on Battersea Park Road when they saw a BMW.
‘Officers were stationary at a traffic light, which turned green.
‘A BMW cut across them and on that basis the officers assumed it must have gone through a red light because their light was green.
‘One of the officers noticed the driver was using a mobile phone while doing this and didn’t seem to be paying attention.
‘The officers drove up to the BMW and saw through the window that the driver was using his mobile phone.
‘They spoke to the driver, who was his grace. There was a conversation about the use of a mobile phone.
‘He said he had not been aware of going through the red light but accepted this was because he was using his mobile phone. He said he was in communication with his wife.’
The Duke pleaded guilty to one count of driving his six year-old blue three-litre diesel BMW while using a hand-held device in Battersea Park Road while talking to wife Georgina (pictured, above, together in 2003) with whom he has since separated
The Duke of Norfolk, Edward William Fitzalan-Howard appeared at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court earlier this morning
Initially His Grace fought the case, submitting a not guilty plea and was scheduled to stand trial today before his late change of plea.
‘He stands to be disqualified as a totter for a period of at least six months,’ added the prosecutor.
Applying for the press to be excluded from His Grace’s ‘exceptional hardship’ application his lawyer Natasha Dardashti said details of the coronation of King Charles III would have to be revealed.
‘This is an extremely peculiar submission. His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, as Earl Marshal was responsible for the preparations of the funeral of her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II and is now the person in the country responsible for the coronation of his Royal Highness King Charles III.
‘His Grace will need to provide some information and details of the coronation of his Royal Highness.
‘The reason for this to be in camera is for reasons of national security and there are details that have not yet been discussed with his Royal Highness; the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
‘The application for exceptional hardship should be in camera to prevent the escape of that information, which is of an exceptionally sensitive nature.’
Arundel Castle, which belongs to the Duke of Norfolk once housed Tudor queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard
Arundel Castle in West Sussex, the Duke of Norfolk’s 1,000-year-old ancestral home and dates back to medieval times
The Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk, at Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court, London, where he has been banned from driving
Duke of Norfolk attended a hearing at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court (above) this morning where he admitted one offence
‘Once the coronation of his Royal Highness has taken place there will be no need for these details of the coronation to remain private,’ added Ms Dardashti.
‘The organisation of state occasions takes years of planning and involves issues of security for world leaders attending the UK, the public and other people attending, which will require his grace to go into details .’
Regarding the application for a part-private hearing Mr Bryan said: ‘We take a neutral position on that. It is not for the Crown to take a view one way or the other.
‘There has to be a compelling reason for that course. Is it really necessary for the defence to go into such details that would compromise those arrangements?’
The magistrates agreed to hear details of His Grace’s role in the coronation in private and afterwards Ms Dardashti said: ‘This is a huge and very, very peculiar responsibility.
‘His huge responsibility for the coronation means he needs to drive to all parts of the UK for meetings and to arrange what will be another huge world spectacle.
The Duke of Norfolk Edward William Fitzalan-Howard organises major state events including the King’s coronation
‘The Royal Family are loved throughout this country and all over the world and are economically very, very important to the economy of this country.
‘The coronation of a King is financially important to all of us.
‘He does not get paid for being Earl Marshal and is working with a huge amount of responsibility and must be available at short notice.
‘The logistics of having four drivers with security clearance to drive him around if he needs to go anywhere, even at 3am are not workable.
‘This is a particular point in the history of this nation. The coronation of His Majesty King Charles III.
‘It is a huge responsibility for this one man.
‘It is because of this timing it is so crucial that he keeps his licence.’
Before ordering the press, who had argued against the submissions, to leave court, Ms Way said: ‘We grant the application by the defence but only in relation to issues relating to national security and the coming coronation.’
However, it is understood cross-examination of the duke involving other matters also took place behind closed doors.
In open court, the duke told magistrates his office and the local railway station are four miles away from his Arundel Castle home, in West Sussex.
After the media were allowed to return to court, Ms Dardashti said: ‘He has given quite a bit of information about what is going to be involved in this coronation.
‘He must be mobile to achieve what he needs to achieve in this regard.’
She continued: ‘His Grace needs to be able to organise what is a huge event.
‘He needs to travel to all of the jurisdictions of the UK, to located venues, speak to people and encourage people to become involved in what is going to be another world spectacular.’
The lawyer added: ‘It is an extremely peculiar set of circumstances at a really crucial point in the history of this nation with the one man who was responsible for not only the funeral last week but the coronation of King Charles III.
‘It is a huge undertaking and it is the responsibility of this one man at this time.’
Pictured: The Oxford-educated father-of-five is a descendant of Elizabeth I and reported to be worth more than £100 million
His Grace applied for the magistrates not to impose six penalty points, claiming ‘exceptional hardship’ to his livelihood and his 150 full-time and part-time staff if he was disqualified.
‘I am the Chief Executive of the Dukedom, farming, forestry, our business assets etc. That is my job.’
Explaining his Peppering Project, a conservation initiative on 3,000 acres of his estate, His Grace insisted he needed his driving licence to use the public roads to access the area.
‘For twenty years we have been trying to find a way to save nature and to feed the world,’ he told the court.
He was trying to save at least ten ‘red-listed’endangered species and needed his licence to drive, sometimes at 4am to the South Downs, to monitor this progress.
‘I spend an enormous amount of time in my spare hours witnessing the revival of nature and managing bringing this change about.
‘Dawn and dusk are the crucial times to count the species and I need to use the public roads to do this,’ His Grace told the magistrates.
He claimed he was £45m in debt after buying back 14,000 acres of his Dukedom’s original land. ‘That, in effect, is my life’s work done.’
He also owns lands in Norfolk, Yorkshire and industrial units in Sheffield.
The Duke of Norfolk (pictured in 2017) argued that part of the hearing should be held in private because he would have to disclose details of the King’s Coronation in a bid to keep his licence after he was caught using his phone while driving
Battersea Park Road in South West London where the Duke was caught driving while using his phone by police officers
‘If there is a problem I have to be able to react and I do not know where I will be. I may go to Yorkshire and drive or to Norfolk and the only way to get there is to drive.
‘Also my office in Arundel is four miles away from where I live.’
Hiring a chauffeur would be challenging to his ‘chaotic schedule’ the court heard.
So why does the Duke of Norfolk live in Sussex?
While his title would imply he lords over Norwich, the traditional seat of the Duke of Norfolk is almost 200 miles away at Arundel Castle in Sussex.
This situation is not uncommon, with very few British dukes living near the origin of their title. Chatsworth House, the home of the Dukes of Devonshire, is in Derbyshire. Similarly, for centuries the Duke of Westminster’s traditional seat has been Eaton Hall in Cheshire.
The reason for absenteeism among the dukes is usually one of history. Many owned their homes and land before they took on their titles. Indeed, they were usually given dukedoms precisely because they were rich enough to own plenty of land, so they tended to remain in their existing homes.
Arundel Castle was given to ancestors of the present Duke of Norfolk shortly after the Norman Conquest in the 11th Century, while the title was created several centuries later.
Traditional seats are often irrelevant now, with many sold or lost to death duties.
For instance, the Duke of Manchester lives in Las Vegas, and has at times found his ducal seat to be the High Desert Nevada State Prison – a far cry from the family’s 17th Century Kimbolton Castle, which is now a school.
‘Obviously I have the means to hire a driver, but the trouble is life is not that simple. I do not know if I have to drive at four in the morning to see the Curlew.’
His Grace also said he preferred the informality of arriving for work in ‘my old BMW’ than be chauffeur-driven. ‘I like to be straightforward and being acceptable to people.’
Regarding any ban he added: ‘It will curtail my manoeuvrability to an extent. It could be very, very serious and my responsibility is to those 150 people and those 150 families.
‘Even if one family was effected and some have been with us forty, thirty years. If Gary the tractor driver were to lose his job I’d feel responsible. If I lost twenty to thirty people that way I’d be mortified.’
The Earl Marshal is the 18th Duke of Norfolk, who inherited the position upon the death of his father in 2002.
The staunchly Roman Catholic Duke, Edward Fitzalan-Howard, divorced his wife Georgina in August this year, telling the Mail on Sunday that both he and Georgina had tried to save the union – splitting ‘amicably’ now their children are adults.
The Duchess, 60, has kept the couple’s Angmering Park House and 100 acres of the estate, which forms a small part of 16,000 acres owned by the Duke on the South Downs.
He lives less than two miles away at Peppering Farm, a property which was once occupied and decorated by the Duchess during one of their trial separations.
He also keeps the medieval Arundel Castle, in Sussex, which dates back to 1067 but has been restored since it was built during the reign of Edward the Confessor straight after the Norman Conquest.
Earlier this month, the Mail on Sunday reported that it is understood the duke has proposed to his girlfriend Francesca ‘Chica’ Herbert while they were on holiday in Italy last month.
She is the ex-wife of Henry Herbert, son of the late 7th Earl of Carnarvon, the Queen’s racing manager who owned Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was filmed.
When Chica, 59, becomes the new Duchess of Norfolk, she will have to share her title and land with Georgina, 60.
The duke is the most senior lay member of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain and a crossbench peer in the House of Lords.
An Oxford-educated father of five, he is a descendant of Elizabeth I and is also reported to be worth more than £100 million.
Two thousand people including world leaders and foreign royals gathered inside Westminster Abbey in London last Monday for the final farewell to the nation’s longest reigning monarch, in an event watched around the globe.
The duke described organising the Queen’s funeral as ‘both humbling and daunting’ and ‘an honour and a great responsibility’.
The man who made Britain swell with pride: Queen’s funeral planner is ex-racing driver Duke of Norfolk who now has huge task of organising King Charles’ coronation – as poll reveals 86% of public think Britain did good job of commemorating Her Majesty
By Jack Wright for MailOnline
The man responsible for the Queen’s extraordinary state funeral yesterday is the Duke of Norfolk, a staunchly Roman Catholic divorcee and former racing driver who meticulously prepared for the ceremony for two decades – and will be given the equally enormous task of organising King Charles III’s Coronation next year.
Edward William Fitzalan-Howard, 65, became England’s most senior peer and the 18th duke following the death of his father Miles in 2002.
For more than 350 years, his ancestors have passed down the ancient office of Earl Marshal – meaning that they are responsible for overseeing funerals for members of the Royal Family, the coronations of Britain’s monarchs, and even state openings of parliament.
And because the office is hereditary, it meant that the peer’s grandfather Bernard Fitzalan-Howard, the 16th Duke of Norfolk, was responsible for organising Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953, the state funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965 and the investiture of Charles as the Prince of Wales in 1969.
Eddie, as he is known to his friends, oversaw the planning and execution of the most majesty send-off of a Sovereign in living memory – as 2,000 VIPs including King Charles and the British royal family emperors, kings and queens, prime ministers, presidents, and members of the public including decorated war heroes, members of the Armed Forces and NHS staff who worked tirelessly during the pandemic attended Westminster Abbey for the state funeral.
The historic day saw 2million people crowd the streets of London inside a Scotland Yard ‘ring of steel’ involving thousands of police officers from across the UK that snaked 12 miles through the capital, while a solemn military procession led Her Majesty’s coffin from the Abbey through Whitehall, down The Mall and up Constitution Hill to Wellington Arch.
From there, the Queen was carried by state hearse to Windsor Castle, where tens of thousands of mourners applauded another procession that slowly made its way down the Long Walk to St George’s Chapel for a committal service where Elizabeth II was finally laid to rest beside her beloved husband Prince Philip, parents George VI and Queen Mary, and sister Princess Margaret’s ashes.
Now an overwhelming majority of Britons (86%) believe that the Duke of Norfolk did a ‘good job’ of commemorating the late Monarch.
The duke began planning the Queen’s funeral the week of his father’s death 20 years ago, though plans for the service – codenamed Operation London Bridge – have been in place since the 1960s. Eddie held annual meetings in the throne room of Buckingham Palace, working closely with Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Mather, a long-serving member of the royal household who commanded the bearer party at Churchill’s funeral, for the first 10 years. In the two decades which followed, the number of people involved swelled from just 20 to 280 in April this year.
Just days before the funeral, the peer explained that the funeral was being held in Westminster Abbey for the first time in more than 200 years – since George II in 1760 – so that 2,000 guests could attend. He also revealed that he extended the Queen’s lying in state at Westminster Hall for an extra day ‘to allow an additional 85,000 people to file past the coffin’.
His niece Lady Kinvara Balfour told Tatler magazine: ‘In organising the Queen’s funeral (and the coronation to come), Uncle Eddie has done a truly outstanding job. What a show of elegance, efficiency and rare precision he has produced for our nation, and the world – just like the late Queen Elizabeth II herself did. He is an incredible father of five, a grandfather too’.
The Duke of Norfolk Edward William Fitzalan-Howard in his role as Earl Marshal
The duke on the right of the image. The Queen signs the Proclamation of Accession of King Charles III, watched by the Prince of Wales, Prime Minister Liz Truss, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell and Lord Chancellor of the Privy Council Brandon Lewis during the Accession Council ceremony at St James’s Palace
Edward Fitzalan-Howard, on the right, at the proclamation of King Charles III at St James’s Palace
Charles, then Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla with the Duke of Norfolk at the state opening of parliament in 2015
Charles, then Prince of Wales, with the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk at Arundel Castle in 2008
Edward William Fitzalan-Howard and Georgina at the Festival of Speed at Goodwood, Surrey in 2003. The couple married in 1987 and have five children, now aged between 24 and 33. They separated in 2011, much to the sadness of close friends and family, and the split was said to be so acrimonious that they missed the Royal Wedding of William and Kate to avoid being in the same room as each other. They are now divorced, the duke told The Mail on Sunday
The Duke with his new partner Francesca Herbert, mother of socialite Frankie Herbert and ex-wife of Harry Herbert whose father, the 7th Earl of Carnavon, was the Queen’s closest confidant
As part of his duties, the distant relative of Edward the Confessor and Elizabeth I also played a major role in the proclamation of the King at St James’s Palace, standing on the balcony overlooking Friary Court as the principal proclamation was read aloud in public by the garter king of arms.
Eddie is also a major landowner reportedly worth more than £100million who ran a bottled gas company and a joinery business and now throws game shoots from his 1,000-year-old ancestral home, Arundel Castle in West Sussex – and was on such good terms with the Queen that she regularly invited him to shoot in her beloved Scotland with her.
He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order for services to the monarchy in the honours announced for the Platinum Jubilee.
Curiously enough, the Oxford-educated duke is also the most senior lay member of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain – making him a Catholic in charge of the Protestant occasion of the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey and committal at Windsor Castle.
And the peer – who is reportedly a private man – divorced his yoga-loving wife Georgina after two decades of marriage.
The couple married in 1987 and have five children, now aged between 24 and 33. They separated in 2011, much to the sadness of close friends and family, and the split was said to be so acrimonious that they missed the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton to avoid being in the same room as each other.
By 2016 they were back together, just before the wedding of their eldest son Henry, who will one day take on the prestigious title of 19th Duke of Norfolk.
The late Queen was said to be delighted at this reconciliation, while the Catholic Herald ran an article praising their decision to stay together.
But last year the Duke said the reunion had been short-lived and he was now in a new relationship with Francesca Herbert, mother of socialite Frankie Herbert and ex-wife of Harry Herbert whose father, the 7th Earl of Carnavon, was the Queen’s closest confidant.
The duke with his ex-wife the duchess in London in 2016. The pair are now divorced
Arundel Castle was built at the end of the 11th Century. It is now the home of The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk
The funeral procession carrying The Queen’s coffin from Westminster Abbey down The Mall to Wellington Arch
The Ceremonial Procession of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II travels down the Long Walk as it arrives at Windsor Castle for the Committal Service at St George’s Chapel
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II with the Imperial State Crown resting on top lies in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle
At the time, the couple maintained they had no plans to divorce and, as recently as April this year, the Duke would only go as far as to say their future was ‘uncertain’.
But the duke last month revealed the divorce papers were signed in June, telling The Mail on Sunday: ‘By God we tried. For the sake of the family, and because we are Catholic, we really, really tried everything. It proved completely impossible and we had to move on. The final divorce bit was instigated a year ago and now it’s finally come through. It’s just terribly sad, but we have to move on for the sake of the children – we can’t go on putting them through this.’
Georgina, 60, has kept the couple’s Angmering Park House and 100 acres of the estate, which forms a small part of 16,000 acres owned by the Duke on the South Downs.
He lives less than two miles away at Peppering Farm, a property which was once occupied and decorated by the duchess during one of their trial separations.
While his title would imply he lords over Norwich, the traditional seat of the Duke of Norfolk is almost 200 miles away at Arundel Castle in West Sussex.
The duke’s grandfather organised the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. Elizabeth II is pictured here on the day with her husband Prince Philip in the Gold State Coach, which dates back to the 18th century
The duke’s grandfather also organised the state funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965
This situation is not uncommon, with very few British dukes living near the origin of their title. Chatsworth House, the home of the Dukes of Devonshire, is in Derbyshire. Similarly, for centuries the Duke of Westminster’s traditional seat has been Eaton Hall in Cheshire. The reason for absenteeism among the dukes is usually one of history. Many owned their homes and land before they took on their titles. Indeed, they were usually given dukedoms precisely because they were rich enough to own plenty of land, so they tended to remain in their existing homes.
Arundel Castle was given to ancestors of the present Duke of Norfolk shortly after the Norman Conquest in the 11th Century, while the title was created several centuries later.
Traditional seats are often irrelevant now, with many sold or lost to death duties. For instance, the Duke of Manchester lives in Las Vegas, and has at times found his ducal seat to be the High Desert Nevada State Prison – a far cry from the family’s 17th Century Kimbolton Castle, which is now a school.
The Duke of Norfolk also told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Since the divorce, to be truthful, there’s no sharing. The castle is mine now, for family and weekends. Her area of influence is just Angmering House.
‘The financial settlement was agreed a long time ago, but since then we reconciled – now it’s been put into action after all. The biggest hardness is just the sadness of the two of us not succeeding in making it work. That’s the biggest sadness, honestly. There wasn’t one thing that broke us – we tried and tried and tried, over eight years.
‘We really have given it our best shot, there’s no doubt about it. It’s completely amicable and terribly sad.’