Monday, 5 Dec 2022

Lady Glenconner’s ‘humiliation’ as husband left island to his servant

Prince Philip was 'hurt' by The Crown says Lady Glenconner

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Lady Anne Glenconner suffered at the hands of her husband Colin Tennant, the third Lord Glenconner, throughout their long marriage. But he dealt his final blow from beyond the grave. Lord Glenconner chose to leave his mansion and 240-acre estate on the Caribbean Island of Mustique, the resort for the uber-rich, to his servant after changing his will just months before his death.

Following his death from cancer aged 83 in 2010, it emerged that Lord Glenconner – dubbed the King of St Lucia – left his £20million fortune to his long-time valet, Kent Adonai, with not a penny going to Lady Anne, their children, and grandchildren. 

Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2011, the now 90-year-old said: “Unfortunately, he changed his will seven months before he died, and not one member of his family was named in this new will — not me, his wife for more than half a century, or any of his children or grandchildren.”

Over the course of their 54-year-long marriage, Colin subjected his wife to a torrent of physical and emotional abuse. In her recent book Whatever Next? Lessons from an Unexpected Life, Lady Anne divulged some of what she experienced from the man she wed at just 23 years old.  

Their marriage seemingly did not get off to the best start: following the ceremony at St Withburga’s Church in Holkham, Lord Glenconner took her to a brothel in Paris to watch strangers before asking her whether she would like to join in. The daughter of the fifth Earl of Leicester said that she politely declined.

In the years that followed, while they did have moments of “vivid happiness”, Lady Anne was spat at, kicked, and beaten: at one point she was left close to death and lost her hearing permanently in one ear. 

At one dinner party, he allegedly slapped her across the face with a raw fish. His cutting Lady Glenconner out of his will was seemingly his final act of malice. In an interview with the Financial Times last year, she simply said: “It was humiliation”. 

A lengthy eight-year battle ensued as the family attempted to argue that Lord Glenconner was not of sound mind when he rewrote his will. 

However, a settlement was eventually reached between Mr Adonai and Lord Colin’s grandson and heir to the title, Cody Tennant, in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme court with both walking away “happy with what they got”, according to Lady Anne in 2018.

Mr Adonai first met Lord Glenconner when he helped unload an elephant the eccentric aristocrat had bought from a boat. So impressed was Lord Glenconner that he made Mr Adonai his chauffeur and valet. 

In the years that followed, the pair grew closer with Mr Adonai reportedly even sleeping on a mattress at the foot of his master’s bed. Lord Glenconner would later refer to him as his “son”. 

Charmed by its scenery, Lord Tennant bought the island of Mustique in 1958 for £45,000 – more than £800,000 today. 

It consequently became the party destination for the rich and famous with Princess Margaret and her then-husband Lord Snowdon venturing there during their honeymoon in 1960. Music legends such as Mick Jagger and David Bowie also holidayed there.

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Lady Anne, who was both a maid of honour to the late Queen Elizabeth II and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret for more than three decades, had a tumultuous life. Not all her strife was at the hand of her husband whom she described in her 2019 memoir, Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown, as “charming, angry, endearing, hilariously funny, manipulative, vulnerable, intelligent, spoilt, insightful and fun”.

Sadly, she outlived two of the five children she had with Lord Glenconner. Their eldest, Charlie, began taking drugs when he was just a teenager and later recovered from his heroin addiction. But he tragically died from hepatitis C in 1996. 

Their second child Henry married and had a child. But he came out as gay in the Eighties and little over a year later, he was tragically diagnosed with Aids, which was, at that time, a death sentence. Lady Anne helped care for him until his death in 1990.

The turmoil did not end there. Their youngest, Christopher, suffered a head injury in a motorbike accident in Belize and was in a coma for months before he eventually recovered.

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