Obituary: Rosamond, Lady Lovat, Shy but warm-hearted widow of dashing and distinguished Earl of Lovat

Born: 20 May, 1917, in Cheshire. Died: 3 March, 2012, in London, aged 94

Lady Rosamond Lovat married the dashing commando, the 15th Earl of Lovat, in 1938 at Brompton Oratory in west London. He cut a commanding figure throughout the war, being led by his own piper and marching into battle carrying a rolled-up umbrella. Nothing typifies the kindly and gracious nature of Lady Lovat more than the support she provided for her charismatic husband both in the war and in the post-war years. During the latter, when he was recovering from severe wounds, Lady Lovat cared for him and nursed him back to health. She was equally vigilant in 1953 after his serious heart attack.

Lady Lovat was the daughter of Sir Jock Delves Broughton Bt (a member of the notorious Happy Valley set in the 1920s in Kenya) and his wife, Vera Edyth Griffith-Boscawen. She was privately educated at the family’s substantial home, Doddington Hall, in Cheshire. The distressing months which the family experienced when her father was tried for the murder of Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Errol, left its mark on her character. Lady Lovat, always kind and warm-hearted, remained somewhat shy throughout her life.

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After her marriage, she encouraged her husband in his many wartime escapades – including the crucial attack by the Lovat Scouts on Arnhem Bridge, featured in the film, The Longest Day. In the epic movie, Lord Lovat was played with suitable panache by Peter Lawford.

In those post-war years, Lord Lovat was active in national politics. The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, offered him the largely ceremonial post of Captain of the Gentleman-at-Arms but he turned that down and instead, in 1945, joined the government, as an under secretary in the Foreign Office. When Churchill lost the 1945 election, Lovat left Westminster politics and divided his time between the family estates in Inverness-shire and the army, from which he retired in 1962 with the rank of Brigadier.

Lady Lovat, throughout these years, was much occupied with bringing up their six children and looking after their homes: Beaufort Castle in Inverness-shire – which had been in the family for many years – and in London. Although she remained in the background, she was well versed in her husband’s many responsibilities to the Clan Fraser, the Inverness-shire County Council and such local institutions as the Lovat Shinty Club.

Lady Lovat suffered much heartache in the mid-1990s. Her husband died in 1995 and two sons, Andrew and Simon, died within days of each other in 1994. Simon died of a heart attack aged 54 as he took part in a drag hunt at Beaufort. That tragedy happened just four days after the funeral of his brother, Andrew, who had been tragically killed by a buffalo in Tanzania. Another of Lady Lovat’s sons, the Right Honourable Hugh Fraser, who had a farm at Balblair House, near Inverness, died last January.

Lady Lovat then had to face further problems when, after sizeable tax demands, the family, in the 1990s, sold off land – including Beaufort Castle to Anne Gloag, the co-founder of the Stagecoach bus empire, for a reported £3.5 million.

The family still retains property and links in the heart of the Fraser Clan territory and it is significant that Lady Lovat will be buried in the family grave at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Eskadale. Iain Shepherd, a director of the Beauly-based Lovat Estates, said: “Lady Lovat was held in great affection in the area. She was certainly well loved and well respected.”

Her daughter, Mrs Fiona Allen, confirmed that opinion when she told The Scotsman: “My mother was devoted to her family, bringing up her children and helping our father in his many endeavours. She loved the Highlands and was a keen angler of the many nearby rivers: she loved going on long treks over the moors and hills. She adored her garden and spent many happy hours working away. Latterly my mother had taken up meditation and yoga. She started yoga classes at 60 and delighted in contorting herself into all manner of positions.

“She was never flamboyant but was a magnet for children of all ages and loved having them around. Throughout her life she had a serenity and calmness. That, along with her strong religious faith, helped her through her family tragedies.”

Lady Lovat, a lady of much traditional charm and courtesy, is survived by her son and two daughters.

ALASDAIR STEVEN