March 25, 2023

He was raised in a household the place upbringing and ‘doing the best factor’ have been the benchmarks of success. They have been the ideas that guided Charles Villiers not solely in life but in addition when it got here to the style of his sudden and premature dying.

Yesterday it emerged that the distant cousin of the Duchess of Cornwall, who was the defendant in one in all Britain’s longest and most poisonous divorces, had apparently killed himself in a London lodge room.

Pals consider it was typical of the ‘mild and sort’ aristocrat that he ought to select the anonymity of a lodge to finish his life and thus keep away from inflicting ache to family members who would possibly in any other case have found him.

Yesterday it emerged that Charles Villiers (pictured together with his ex-partner Heidi Innes), the distant cousin of the Duchess of Cornwall, who was the defendant in one in all Britain’s longest and most poisonous divorces, had apparently killed himself in a London lodge room

His dying marks a tragic finish to a bitter marital battle that, a decade after it started, had nonetheless not been resolved.

It was a case that had inflicted monetary damage — and one during which love had turned to such hatred {that a} Excessive Court docket decide was moved to conclude that each Villiers, 59, and his estranged spouse Emma, 62, had most likely suffered ‘psychological injury’.

Even so, mates have been shocked that he would contemplate taking his personal life.

‘He by no means talked to me about being suicidal,’ mentioned Philippa Snowdon, a pal of his late mom who allowed him to remain at her Chelsea dwelling. ‘However he did speak to a girlfriend of mine about it, so I learn up on it and I discovered that individuals who commit suicide typically fear about being discovered by somebody they look after.’

When the case started, Villiers was the proud proprietor of a seven-bedroom Scottish manor home, set in ten acres with its personal non-public loch, the place he and Emma appreciated to carry elegant black-tie dinners. Life was good they usually despatched their solely daughter Clarissa to fee-paying Cheltenham Girls’ Faculty.

By June this yr, when he was ordered by the Court docket of Attraction to pay £10,000 in upkeep to his ex-wife, Milton Home in Dumbarton had lengthy since been repossessed and he had been evicted from a rental property. He insisted that he was just about penniless and diminished to sleeping on mates’ sofas. Judges, nonetheless, criticised his ‘appalling conduct’ within the divorce struggle. Was that the final straw, maybe? Nobody will be positive.

His ex-wife Emma Villiers, 58, (pictured right) with their daughter Clarissa Villiers, 22, (pictured left). The couple separated in 2012 and filed for divorce in 2014 and fight was ongoing at time of his death last week

His ex-wife Emma Villiers, 58, (pictured proper) with their daughter Clarissa Villiers, 22, (pictured left). The couple separated in 2012 and filed for divorce in 2014 and struggle was ongoing at time of his dying final week

For the previous two months he had continued his peripatetic life, counting on the generosity of mates, shifting from spare room to spare room and even to a yacht in Greece. It was throughout this spell within the Greek islands that his host grew to become fearful about his visitor’s psychological well being.

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‘He had taken to occurring lengthy solitary walks, disappearing for hours at a time,’ I’m advised. ‘At instances he appeared distressed and upset.’

Alarmed by this growth, the pal organized for Villiers to return to Britain and to be examined at a clinic. He duly flew again to London on Wednesday final week however as an alternative of attending the clinic, checked into the discreet four-star Durrants Lodge in Marylebone, Central London.

He was discovered hanged in his room by a housekeeper the next day.

Scotland Yard known as his dying ‘not suspicious’ and mentioned a file was being handed to the Westminster coroner.

The extraordinary saga of Villiers vs Villiers was finally to unfold throughout 5 courts and find yourself being heard earlier than 20 judges. There have been claims from Villiers, who traced his household line again to Mary Tudor, youthful sister of Henry VIII, that his spouse was a spendthrift who beloved ‘the trimmings of wealth greater than her husband’.

Emma Villiers leaving the Supreme Court in London in 2019 while the divorced couple were waiting for a ruling on their long-running Scotland versus England legal battle

Emma Villiers leaving the Supreme Court docket in London in 2019 whereas the divorced couple have been ready for a ruling on their long-running Scotland versus England authorized battle

He cited his spouse’s fondness for white denims. ‘She’s the kind of one who had 11 pairs . . . after which would go and purchase extra.’ He accused her of getting no idea of cash. At one level, police have been known as in to analyze allegations of bigamy towards Mrs Villiers —claims that have been later dismissed by detectives.

All in all, it was very unedifying, particularly for a religious Roman Catholic comparable to Villiers, who was enormously happy with his household hyperlinks to the previous Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles via his mom Elizabeth Keppel, the daughter of Viscount Bury.

Villiers, a former writer and racehorse proprietor, believed that as a result of he and his spouse lived for a lot of the 18 years of their marriage in Scotland, their divorce must be settled there. Emma filed for upkeep within the English courts, the place settlements are extra beneficiant, main her estranged husband to accuse her of ‘divorce tourism’.

It grew to become a landmark case, however when it reached the Supreme Court docket it was determined the English courts ought to oversee the monetary settlement. Naturally the case left divorce legal professionals agog.

In a listening to final March, Mr Justice Mostyn took the weird step of constructing a big a part of his ruling public. It made extraordinary — if brutal — studying. Nobody got here out of it nicely however his best exasperation was reserved for the warring couple, as he lamented the money and time spent ‘choosing over historical grievances’.

The long-fought over former-family home in Scotland

The long-fought over former-family dwelling in Scotland

Of Villiers he declared: ‘The husband has vented his spleen by alleging that the spouse is a bigamist. The allegation was fully spurious. The husband has accused the spouse of being a fraudster, a fantasist and customarily ineffective.

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‘The spouse, with some justification, has accused the husband of being dishonest, manipulative, vindictive and bullying. However she just isn’t past criticism herself.

‘She has performed her pursuit of the husband on this litigation in a very disproportionate method and has wilfully blinded herself to the truth that the huge quantities of inherited funds that she believes her husband has at his disposal are, in reality, a chimera. The results of this horrible litigation is that each events at the moment are financially ruined and, I believe, psychologically broken.’

It was exhausting to determine the jauntily dressed, well-mannered Outdated Etonian with the lurid publicity that emerged within the court docket hearings. This was a person Philippa Snowdon remembers as ‘the right home visitor’ at her dwelling in Chelsea. She advised me yesterday: ‘He at all times emptied the dishwasher with out being requested and I’d typically are available to search out him doing the ironing.

‘Once we had our Jubilee get together in June, Charles put up the bunting. He was at all times so useful and at all times tidy.’

He had been dwelling on Miss Snowdon’s couch, ‘on and off’ since February. He had additionally been a visitor of the biographer Anne de Courcy, who was serving to him with a ebook he was writing about his aristocratic household background.

‘He had written an excellent synopsis and I used to be encouraging him,’ mentioned Miss de Courcy.

The author Hugo Vickers had additionally saved his spirits up after one writer had turned down his proposed ebook. ‘I didn’t know him nicely however I used to be struck that he was a kind of optimists who, when confronted with disappointments, would simply push it apart. I advised him there have been different publishers.’

Charles Villiers was a very distant cousin to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall

Charles Villiers was a really distant cousin to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall

Geoffrey Bowring, an previous pal who first met him when Villiers was at Edinburgh College, recalled how lack of cash was a continuing downside. ‘I as soon as took him to catch a practice from Cambridge to Scotland and he couldn’t pay for the ticket. I believe he was too proud to ask however I purchased him a ticket and gave him a bit of cash.’

It wasn’t at all times like that. Due to his co-ownership of a string of native newspapers and different pursuits, he was nicely off when he met Emma in 1991 at a home get together in Dorset. She was a divorcee, although Villiers later claimed he didn’t know she had been married not as soon as however twice.

The couple acquired on nicely and three years later they have been married. Clarissa was born the next yr in 1995. They threw common events and he invested in a horse-racing syndicate. Wanting again, Villiers claimed he knew little or no about his spouse and mentioned he by no means met any of her mates.

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He claimed the wedding began to founder in 2011 when, with Clarissa at boarding college, he recommended they downsize. ‘The home was monumental and there was simply the 2 of us rattling round in it,’ he mentioned. ‘It had served its function as a household dwelling and I believed we must always discuss a brand new chapter.’

Based on Villiers, his spouse’s response was: ‘For those who’re ever considering of promoting this home, I’m off. I’d somewhat promote my engagement ring than this home.’

He added: ‘She was clearly saying ‘I’m married to this home, not you.’ She appreciated being chatelaine of Milton Home.’

By 2012 the couple had separated. Villiers moved to Edinburgh and his spouse and daughter settled in Notting Hill, West London. He was subsequently declared bankrupt. Because the case floor on — it targeted on a belief fund Villiers had been left by his grandmother, which he claimed barely lined his storage payments — he discovered love once more with opera singer Heidi Innes. However they break up up earlier this yr, with Ms Innes declaring ‘the scales have dropped from my eyes’.

Solely 18 months earlier, the couple had pledged their devotion to one another earlier than shut family and friends in a ‘union ceremony’ at their East Lothian dwelling, with champagne and a two-tier cake on a stand, embossed with the letters H and C, which was adorned with scented pale roses.

Mr Villiers, 59, was found dead by a housekeeper in a room at the Durrants Hotel in London's Marylebone last week. Here he is pictured with his ex-wife Emma

Mr Villiers, 59, was discovered lifeless by a housekeeper in a room on the Durrants Lodge in London’s Marylebone final week. Right here he’s pictured together with his ex-wife Emma

Nonetheless, Miss Innes, 45, who had been with Villiers for almost 5 years, mentioned: ‘It’s over. I’m glad I didn’t marry him formally. He’s not the person I believed he was all this time. He’s alleged to be a gentleman however I don’t suppose he has behaved very nicely.’

It didn’t assist that their rented cottage had been seized after Villiers did not pay £18,000 in hire arrears. Miss Innes laid the blame squarely on her boyfriend, alleging that he promised to pay the hire whereas she lined different payments.

Quick-forward to this summer time and a chastened Villiers was resorting to sofa-surfing at mates’ houses. Those that know him suppose it unlikely he didn’t endure some psychological scarring of the sort Mr Justice Mostyn recommended.

Certainly, in his final interview with Tatler journal, he mirrored on the case of a businessman known as Scot Younger, a Scottish property developer who plunged from a fourth-floor window onto spiked railings in 2014. He, too, was concerned in a prolonged divorce case. ‘He was pursued by his spouse for years and ended up throwing himself out of a window,’ Villiers mentioned.

Was that tragedy on his thoughts when he checked into Durrants Lodge, uncannily near the place Mr Younger died, final week? We might by no means know the reply.