A selection of Lord Lexden's letters this year to The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The New Statesman, The Spectator and others. You can read letters from previous years in the menu to the left.
07/02/24 - Kings and cancer
Sir, It is immensely poignant that the King’s cancer diagnosis should have been announced the day before the 72nd anniversary of the sudden death of his grandfather, George VI, who suffered from cancer. Though he had undergone a serious operation to remove most of his left lung the previous September, he was left in the dark by his doctors about his condition. Winston Churchill, then prime minister, seems to have been almost the only person who knew the truth. Circumstances today are very different. King Charles will be kept properly informed by his doctors as his treatment proceeds, with an infinitely greater chance of success.
Conservative Party historian
03/02/24 - No united Ireland
The Daily Telegraph
SIR -- The excellent Ruth Dudley Edwards brings good news of Sinn Fein’s growing difficulties in the Irish Republic (Comment, February 1).
In Northern Ireland, its acquisition of the post of first minister on the return of devolved government will produce much confident talk about the inevitability of a united Ireland. The reality, as polls show, is that supporters of the Union, among whom are many Roman Catholics, outnumber those who want to leave it by two to one.
The Unionist majority can be expected to grow, since Sinn Fein seems unable to produce competent ministers. It has never managed to bring forward a budget capable of gaining the support of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Good government will depend on the Unionist parties in the Assembly. They deserve the wholehearted backing of Conservatives in Parliament, who should remember the full name of their party: Conservative and Unionist.
Airey Neave, for whom I worked long ago, never forgot his party’s overriding purpose.
20/01/24 - Stepping out - backwards
The Daily Telegraph
SIR -- The ancient office of Lord Chamberlain will soon have a fresh incumbent (report, January 16).
The new holder of this august post will no doubt be relieved to know that about eight years ago the duties ceased to include walking backwards before the Sovereign at state functions. Those who were quite good at it in the past sometimes had to cope with an unruly companion, the Lord Steward.
Viscount Sandhurst, a very successful Lord Chamberlain under George V, recorded in his diary what happened at a state banquet for the President of Brazil in May 1919: “the long walk backwards from the Bow Room where the King and Queen received to the Ball Room I managed all right, but Farquhar [Lord Steward] was awful. Had it been a race Farquhar would have been disqualified for bumping and he was never in step. He bumped me, then recoiled and bumped again.”
Farquhar, about whom I have published a short biography, survived for another three years before finally being sacked.