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Real villain in Claire Foy’s racy drama? The manipulative husband!

Philip Larkin famously wrote that sexual activity started in 1963, ‘between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles’ first LP’.

It was additionally when the intimate foibles of an aristocratic ruling class have been first uncovered to the glare of the mass media and a public ravenous for particulars.

It was the 12 months of Lord Denning’s scathing report on the Profumo affair, in which His Lordship mused on depravity in excessive locations.

And 1963 additionally noticed one of the sensational divorce trials in authorized historical past, that includes the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, a three-strand pearl necklace, theft, {a photograph} of a ‘headless man’ and a sexual act too stunning to be described in the newspapers of the day.

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Now the BBC is ready to broadcast a significant new dramatisation of the case, starring Claire Foy – who has beforehand portrayed the Queen in the Netflix sequence, The Crown – as Margaret, Duchess of Argyll.

1963 also saw one of the most sensational divorce trials in legal history, featuring the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, a three-strand pearl necklace, robbery, a photograph of a ‘headless man’ and a sexual act too shocking to be described in the newspapers of the day. Ian Campbell is  played by Paul Bettany (pictured)  and Margaret is played by Claire Foy (pictured)

1963 additionally noticed one of the sensational divorce trials in authorized historical past, that includes the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, a three-strand pearl necklace, theft, {a photograph} of a ‘headless man’ and a sexual act too stunning to be described in the newspapers of the day. Ian Campbell is  performed by Paul Bettany (pictured)  and Margaret is performed by Claire Foy (pictured)

I’ve little question she’ll play her properly, not least as a result of this guarantees to be a sequence which, for the primary time, comes near telling the true story behind an occasion that each scandalised and enthralled the British public.

Even right now, greater than half a century on, Margaret is portrayed as a sexually voracious harridan who deserved each second of her painful downfall – a model of occasions endorsed by the courts.

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Nothing extra captured the general public creativeness than reviews of {a photograph}, introduced in proof, which confirmed Margaret performing a intercourse act on a person who was not her husband – a person whose head and face have been tantalisingly minimize off by the body of the image.

Other lovers have been named in courtroom.

Then got here a devastating ruling from Lord Wheatley, the presiding choose, who stated of the Duchess: ‘There is enough in her own admissions to establish that by 1960 she was a completely promiscuous woman whose sexual appetite could only be satisfied by a number of men. 

And whose attitude to the sanctity of marriage was what moderns would call enlightened, but in plain language could only be described as wholly immoral.’

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And so Margaret’s repute lay in ruins.

Yet Wheatley was fallacious. I knew the Duchess as a great and honourable girl.

The architect of her downfall and the true villain of the piece was the eleventh Duke of Argyll, her evil arch-manipulator of a husband. The claims in opposition to her, nevertheless seemingly indelible, have been a smear.

Ian Campbell had already married – and left – two wealthy girls by the point he met Margaret Whigham quickly after the War.

Campbell’s father was bankrupt, his dad and mom had separated and he grew up penniless, reckless with no matter cash did come his manner.

His kinfolk actually took a disparaging view.

Letters in my possession written by his cousin, the tenth Duke of Argyll, describe Ian’s ‘rushings about and foolish caperings.’

The architect of her downfall and the true villain of the piece was the 11th Duke of Argyll, her evil arch-manipulator of a husband. The claims against her, however seemingly indelible, were a smear

The architect of her downfall and the true villain of the piece was the eleventh Duke of Argyll, her evil arch-manipulator of a husband. The claims in opposition to her, nevertheless seemingly indelible, have been a smear

Already a broken man, Campbell was a prisoner of conflict in the Second World War, an expertise which left him temperamental and nervy. He ultimately turned a heavy drinker.

But he was additionally inheritor to his cousin’s dukedom, to which he succeeded in 1940 – a truth which had by no means harmed his probabilities with wealthy girls.

Beautiful and wealthy, Margaret Whigham was fairly a catch. A former debutante of the 12 months, hundreds had lined the streets of London when she married American financier and golfer, Charles Sweeny, in 1933.

They divorced amicably after greater than a decade collectively and her father, George Hay Whigham – a self-made millionaire – gave Margaret a home in Mayfair, permitting her to play the glamorous hostess, entertaining politicians, movie stars, and the richest of the jet set.

In 1947, Margaret met the brand new Duke of Argyll on a Channel-bound practice from Paris. In 1951, they wed.

Contrary to what he later alleged in courtroom, the wedding was difficult from the beginning.

A egocentric and by now incorrigible drunk, the Duke was solely too completely satisfied to make use of his spouse’s household cash to run and enhance his Scottish seat, Inveraray Castle.

This was a undertaking on which they labored collectively all through the Nineteen Fifties, the citadel having been uncared for by the eccentric tenth Duke. Margaret described the years of her marriage as ‘explosive, nerve-racking and sometimes terrifying’. Some of them have been completely satisfied. They have been by no means uninteresting.

However, as soon as the restoration was full, the Argylls began to steer separate lives roughly by settlement. By the early Sixties, it was determined they might divorce.

A chaotic drunkard he might need been, however the Duke additionally had a ruthless streak, as would quickly grow to be evident.

A rehabilitation of Margaret is long overdue. The Argyll divorce captures an important moment in British life, exposing its hypocrisy. The show is seen above

A rehabilitation of Margaret is lengthy overdue. The Argyll divorce captures an essential second in British life, exposing its hypocrisy. The present is seen above

With the divorce case approaching, and decided to have it settled on his phrases, the Duke compelled his manner into Margaret’s residence in Upper Grosvenor Street, the place she was by now residing individually. He stole her non-public diaries, her correspondence and several other confidential pictures. 

On one other event, he went to the home accompanied by his daughter, Lady Jeanne Campbell. Once inside, the Duke pushed Margaret on to the mattress, gripped her throat with one hand and gagged her mouth with the opposite.

His daughter discovered and took away her present diary. Margaret described in her memoirs how she tried to dial 999 however was prevented by her estranged husband, who pinioned her arms.

‘After this they made a rapid exit,’ she wrote.

‘It was a horrible experience, and the next day I suffered from delayed shock.’

The pictures that the Duke discovered included one of many ‘headless man’, which was probably to have been taken whereas Margaret was with a well-established lover.

It was not her regular behavior to indulge in pornography, not to mention create it – but that’s precisely the way it was introduced to the world. Margaret is unlikely to have taken the image. 

She was no photographer. She as soon as confirmed me snaps she’d taken of a personal aircraft despatched to gather her in Florida. The pictures have been blurred and the aircraft hardly in the body in any respect.

There have been many theories as to who the ‘headless man’ was, however the fact is that nobody is aware of.

The picture used in the trial had lain on the desk in the barrister’s workplace and have become pale virtually past recognition.

The solely factor that does appear clear is that the person involved was not the Duke, who was not as properly endowed because the determine in the image – one thing that was identified in courtroom. Needless to say, the images, letters and diaries proved deadly.

Margaret was introduced in courtroom as a wicked girl main a dissolute intercourse life. The Duke was in a position to level to an extended record of lovers, although solely three have been named on the trial.

It hardly helped that the nation was gripped in a tumult of scandal on the time.

There had been loads of society gossip in newspapers because the Nineteen Twenties, however nothing remotely matched a duchess with sexual polaroids. Deference to such figures was laid apart for ever. The floodgates opened.

Although no saint, Margaret was the true sufferer in the case, I imagine, a lady lowered to the standing of social pariah by the underhand methods of her husband and his associates. Not that it appeared to deliver him happiness.

The Duke turned a sour-looking determine in later life. He remarried, his fourth spouse being a somewhat uninteresting American, Mathilda Heller, with tutorial pretensions. Margaret, in distinction, was usually seen at society occasions. She travelled the world, her standing as a duchess enabling her to just accept hospitality from wealthy Americans in Palm Beach and elsewhere.

With the divorce case approaching, and determined to have it settled on his terms, the Duke forced his way into Margaret’s home in Upper Grosvenor Street, where she was by now living separately. He stole her private diaries, her correspondence and several confidential photographs

With the divorce case approaching, and decided to have it settled on his phrases, the Duke compelled his manner into Margaret’s residence in Upper Grosvenor Street, the place she was by now residing individually. He stole her non-public diaries, her correspondence and several other confidential pictures

She retained her dignity, too, as I discovered once I visited her in 1980.

The assembly was in her lavish house at Grosvenor House, the place she was dressed in black velvet, with pearls and diamonds, aged 68. The auburn dyed hair was piled excessive, immaculate, unmoving. It was a specific look, not not like that of the Duchess of Windsor or Princess Margaret. Today no person seems to be like that, and nobody attire fairly as well.

Intellectuals have been typically somewhat dismissive of Margaret. One, for instance, wrote: ‘Her father may have been able to give her some beautiful earrings – but nothing to put between them.’

But whereas she did some foolish issues, Margaret was able to nice kindness and generosity.

In later life she fought to avoid wasting the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment from abolition and she or he sponsored the schooling of two boys at Kinwarton House in Alcester, Warwickshire.

Philip Rutter, the headmaster, wouldn’t hear a phrase in opposition to her.

Presently, all of it went badly fallacious. The cash ran out, she was evicted from the house and relied on the generosity of others earlier than spending her final days in the St George’s Square nursing residence. She died in July 1993, on the age of 80, and Larry Adler performed the harmonica at her funeral.

A rehabilitation of Margaret is lengthy overdue. The Argyll divorce captures an essential second in British life, exposing its hypocrisy.

Titled A Very British Scandal, the brand new TV drama goals to capitalise on the massive success of 2018’s A Very English Scandal, starring Hugh Grant, which recalled the occasions surrounding the 1979 trial of Liberal chief Jeremy Thorpe.

I’m happy to see that script author Sarah Phelps says the Duchess ‘was punished for being a woman, for being visible, for refusing to back down, be a good girl and go quietly’.

I hope her husband will get the hammering he deserves.

As for her ill-fated foray into the British aristocracy, Margaret was unwavering. ‘Oh! These dukes!’ she stated to me. ‘I’ll inform you the best way these dukes behave any time you want. They’re 26 bastards!’

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