January 18, 2018; The Sun

Of the stories we happen across when covering the world of high-dollar donors, those that involve old money can often be the most intricately familiar. So it goes for the story of the recent death and bequest of Lady Lucan of Belgrave in London.

In the great tradition of the revelations that accompany will-readings in British mysteries, the 80-year-old dowager countess, found dead last September in her multimillion-dollar home, declined to leave any of her assets to her three children, instead leaving every penny to a homeless charity. But also in the tradition of those mysteries, set against the familiar backdrop of declining aristocratic circumstances, there are some twists:

  1. The murder in this mystery was not of the dowager countess, who apparently discreetly killed herself under the misapprehension that she was fatally ill. Instead, the murder happened in 1974, when Lord Richard John Lucan, who has gone missing ever since, apparently killed the family nanny when he mistook her for his then-estranged wife. The marriage was described as “grimly unhappy”; one supposes it would be, involving one so violent.
  2. Lucan looked the part of the professional gambler he was, and was reportedly a candidate for the screen adaptations of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.
  3. The three Lucan children continue to have not a bad word to say about their mother, who stopped speaking to them 30 years ago. In fact, they say they remember her lovingly and with great admiration and made sure she was well housed in the family estate (though it did not belong to her). Two have publicly congratulated her on her charitable choice.
  4. Despite this, Lady Lucan accused them in her will of having bad manners and thus ineligible for an inheritance from her.

But despite all of that, her legacy of £576,000 left to Shelter—a gift which appears to be supported by all involved—cannot be anything but a mitzvah.—Ruth McCambridge