A Very British Scandal? Here's the real scandal of the Dukes of Argyll – Brian Wilson

One could never fault the commercial acumen of Dukes of Argyll and hiring out Inveraray Castle for the BBC drama, A Very British Scandal, about the grandfather will doubtless have turnstiles clicking.

BBC drama A Very British Scandal depicts the much-publicised divorce between Ian Douglas Campbell, played by Paul Bettany, and Margaret Campbell, played by Claire Foy (Picture: Blueprint Pictures/Alan Peebles)

I grew up in Argyll and can recall the tartan-swathed 11th Duke and Duchess. It is reassuring all these years later to be confirmed in my early impression that all this stuff about Dukes, Duchesses and Clan Chiefs was a total fraud, which crippled rural Scotland with attitudes of deference – not to mention fear of eviction.

Even by the standards of Scottish pseudo-aristocracy, that Duke was an accident, inheriting the title by virtue of being great-grandson of the eighth Duke. The current one is a whisky salesman – or brand ambassador as they call it in these circles – while running Inveraray Castle as a trinket emporium.

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That’s harmless enough. However, the real value of family continuity – however contrived – is that it carries land with it. Being a Duke brings control over vast acreages and the people who live on them, with no sign of change.

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If Scotland wants to get scandalised, that would be a better place to start. The 11th Duke of Argyll died half a century ago. Argyll Estates live on, at least 50,000 acres in mid-Argyll, Tiree and the Ross of Mull.

The current Duke, opposing Scottish land reform, said: “You go to a French château and it is crumbling and everything inside has been sold because it has been handed to numerous different generations. The history has gone . . .” Sounds like a good idea to me, especially in the case of Inverary!

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