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New Canaan's Royal Wedding

WIth little fanfare, a royal wedding was held in New Canaan in 1967.

When Prince William takes Catherine Middleton as his bride on Friday, April 29 in Westminster Cathedral, they will do so in front of thousands of guests, and the ceremony taking place in London that day will be broadcast throughout the world.

One member of the royal family, who may be in attendance, might be thinking back to his own wedding which took place 44 years ago, a world away in New Canaan.

George Henry Hubert Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood and Knight of the British Empire, aged 88, is 40th in line to the British throne and a first cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, according to The Biographicon.  

How this member of the royal family — who was born at Harewood House, the Lascelles family’s stately home in Yorkshire, who attended his Uncle George VI when he ascended the throne in 1937, who rose to the rank of captain in the British Army and spent time as a German prisoner during World War II — came to be married to his second wife in the Connecticut countryside, is a tale that encompasses the drama and history of England in the 20th Century.

As Time magazine recounted at the time of their wedding, the Earl was a married man with three sons when he met and fell in love with Patricia Tuckwell, an Australian violinist and former model, in 1959.  

Though his first wife, the former Marion Stein, refused to grant him a divorce, he continued to see Tuckwell, who bore him a son in 1964.

In 1967, the Countess finally consented to a divorce, but when the details of the affair became public, Harewood was shunned by his family and labelled a “black sheep” by the Fleet Street press

A lover of opera, Harewood had also bucked family tradition by becoming involved in the arts professionally. In the ensuing publicity, he was forced to resign his post as the artistic director of the Edinburgh Festival. 

When the Earl asked his cousin the Queen to grant him permission to remarry, she said it would not be possible in England.  

With the controversy of her sister Princess Margaret, who had been forced to give up her relationship with the divorced Peter Townsend in the 1950’s and, of course, the abdication of their mutual uncle, the Duke of Windsor, which changed the course of British history and put Elizabeth’s father on the throne, it was feared at the time that the royal family could not broach another marital scandal. 

So, the couple left England for the US. And as Time reported, “in this New World, up popped a fairy godmother, a divorcee named Ruth Lapham Lloyd, who was heiress to a Texas oil fortune. To provide the lord with a proper setting for the wedding, she turned over her somewhat unkempt Elizabethan garden and 300-acre New Canaan, Conn., estate and manor house known as Waverny (sic).”

The couple was married on July 31, 1967. Waveny Park , which Lloyd sold to the town just months later, continues to be a popular wedding site to this day.

As for the Earl, in June 1981 People magazine reported that, “unlike his uncle the Duke of Windsor, who was forced into exile when he insisted on marrying the twice-divorced 'woman I love' in 1937, Harewood was permitted to remain in England and try to rebuild his life on his own terms.” 

By that time, Harewood had become the managing director of the English National Opera. Reporting on the 50th-anniversary celebration of the ENO, People suggested that the event also signalled, “the full return to favor of a relative who only eight years ago pointedly wasn’t invited to Princess Anne’s wedding.” 

Today, the Earl and the second Countess live at Harewood, in Yorkshire. Like many of England’s stately homes, it is open to the public to defray the enormous cost of maintaining the estate.

For those familiar with Waveny House and its grounds, a tour of  Yorkshire might not be complete without a visit to Harewood  to compare the estate which shares an historic link with its colonial cousin.

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