There are times perhaps when we are visiting stately homes around Great Britain, that we completely forget some of them are still used as actual homes. This caused both a shock and a treat to visitors to Harewood House near Leeds, when a helicopter of the Royal Flight suddenly arrived together with an entourage of vehicles. Some roads had been closed and there was a swift security sweep of the area prior to the burgundy helicopter landing. The helicopter was bringing Prince Edward, Duke of Kent for a brief stay at Harewood, which is owned by his cousin, David Lascelles 8th Earl of Harewood.
It is not the first time, recently, that members of the Royal family have stayed here. In 2014 when the Tour de France Grand Depart was from Leeds, Prince William Duke of Cambridge together with his wife Catherine, and brother Prince Harry stayed there.The Duke of Kent had earlier in the day been visiting 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Newcastle, the Duke being Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment. In the evening, he was due to attend a performance of Billy Budd in Leeds. This is being given by Opera North who he is patron of.
The Duke of Kent has been making visits on behalf of the Queen for over fifty years both home and abroad. Perhaps his most visible is that he is President of the All England Tennis and Croquet Club and presents the prizes at Wimbledon. However, that is just one of many organisations he is involved with, including as our minds turn towards Remembrance Sunday in November, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The Lascelles family can trace their ancestry back to the nobles who came over to England with William I, and they have lived in Harewood House since it was built by Edwin Lascelles, 1st Baron Harewood in the middle of the eighteenth century. The house was designed by John Carr and Robert Adam, and as with many stately homes of that period, the gardens were landscaped by Capability Brown. The Lascelles family’s link with the Royal family is, however, more recent. The grandfather of the current Earl married Princess Mary only daughter of King George V in 1922, the late Queen Mother was one of the bridesmaids.