After 34 years of marriage, the Duke of Norfolk has confirmed his divorce has been finalized, saying: “It’s terribly sad.”
Roman Catholic Duke Edward Fitzalan-Howard said he and Georgina had tried to save the union but were “amicably” going their separate ways now that their children are adults.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, the Duke – who will eventually have the task of organizing Prince Charles’ coronation – said: “By God, we tried.” For the sake of the family, and because we are Catholic, we really, really tried everything. It turned out to be completely impossible and we had to move on.
“The last divorce was started a year ago and now it’s finally done. It’s just terribly sad, but we have to move on for the sake of the children – we can’t continue to put them through that.
The Duke Edward Fitzalan-Howard and Duchess Georgina Fitzalan-Howard at the Festival of Speed in Goodwood, Surrey July 13, 2003. After 34 years of marriage they have confirmed their divorce
The Duke with his new partner, Chica Herbert
The Duke, who is worth £100million, will also keep Arundel Castle, the 1,000-year-old ancestral home in West Sussex
The Duchess, 60, kept the couple’s Angmering Park House and 100 acres of the estate, which forms a small 16,000-acre portion owned by the Duke in the South Downs.
He lives less than two miles away at Peppering Farm, a property that was once occupied and decorated by the Duchess during one of their trial separations.
The Duke, who is worth £100million, will also keep Arundel Castle, the 1,000-year-old ancestral home in West Sussex.
The couple married in 1987 and have five children, now aged 24 to 33. They separated in 2011, much to the sadness of close friends and family, and the separation was said to have been so acrimonious that they missed William and Kate’s royal wedding to avoid being in the same room as the other.
In 2016, they got back together, just before the wedding of their eldest son Henry, who will one day take the prestigious title of 19th Duke of Norfolk.
The Queen, a close friend of the Duke and Duchess, is said to have welcomed the reconciliation, while the Catholic Herald published an article praising their decision to stay together.
The couple married in 1987 and have five children, now aged 24 to 33. They separated in 2011, much to the sadness of close friends and family, and the separation was said to have been so acrimonious that they missed William and Kate’s royal wedding to avoid being in the same room as the other
But last year the Duke said the reunion was short-lived and he was now in a new relationship.
At the time the couple claimed they had no intention of divorcing and as recently as April this year the Duke would only go so far as to say their future was ‘uncertain’ .
But now the Duke – who is believed to be the longest-serving lay member of the Catholic Church in Britain – has revealed the divorce papers were signed in June.
He added: “Since the divorce, to be honest, there is no sharing anymore.” The castle is mine now, for the family and the weekends. Its area of influence is just Angmering House.
“The financial settlement was agreed a long time ago, but since then we have reconciled – now it has been implemented after all.
“The biggest difficulty is just the sadness of both of us at not being able to make it work. It’s the biggest sadness, honestly. There wasn’t a single thing that broke us – we tried and tried and tried, for eight years.
“We really gave our best, there is no doubt. It’s completely friendly and terribly sad.
The Duke is now in a relationship with Francesca Herbert, mother of socialite Frankie Herbert and ex-wife of Harry Herbert whose father, the 7th Earl of Carnavon, was the Queen’s closest confidant.
So why does the Duke of Norfolk live in Sussex?
While his title would imply that he Lord of Norwich, the traditional seat of the Duke of Norfolk is nearly 200 miles away at Arundel Castle in Sussex.
This situation is not uncommon, with very few British dukes living near the origin of their title. Chatsworth House, home of the Dukes of Devonshire, is in Derbyshire. Likewise, for centuries the traditional seat of the Duke of Westminster has been Eaton Hall in Cheshire.
The reason for absenteeism among the dukes is usually historical. Many owned their homes and lands before taking their titles. Indeed, they were usually given dukedoms precisely because they were wealthy enough to own a lot of land, so they tended to stay in their existing houses.
Arundel Castle was given to the ancestors of the current Duke of Norfolk shortly after the Norman Conquest in the 11th century, while the title was created several centuries later.
Traditional seats are often no longer relevant now, with many customs duties being sold or lost.
For example, the Duke of Manchester lives in Las Vegas and has occasionally found his ducal seat in High Desert Nevada State Prison – a far cry from the family’s 17th-century Kimbolton Castle, which is now a school.