Sir Angus Ogilvy, who died yesterday aged 76, combined his duties as the husband of Princess Alexandra with a career in the City; but
although he broke new ground for a member of the Royal Family, he also showed that there could be pitfalls.
Ogilvy's full-time City career was effectively ended by his close connection with the entrepreneur "Tiny" Rowland, who was involved in
breaking sanctions against Rhodesia during the 1970s. Nevertheless, it was a clear sign of the respect which Ogilvy commanded that the
repercussions of his involvement did not last long; and he was later cleared of all serious charges.
His decision not to accept an earldom on marrying into the Royal Family was also unorthodox. Since Antony Armstrong-Jones had been created Earl of Snowdon after his marriage to Princess Margaret in 1960, it was assumed that Ogilvy would also be ennobled following his marriage in
1963 to the Queen's first cousin, Princess Alexandra, the daughter of the late Prince George Duke of Kent and Princess Marina Duchess of
Kent. But a keen desire to pursue a City career unaffected by his marriage led him to refuse a peerage - an example followed 10 years later by Captain Mark Phillips, when he married Princess Anne.
Although his decision not to accept a title upset traditionalists, others considered it to be in tune with contemporary attitudes towards
the Royal Family. There was enormous public enthusiasm when the wedding took place at Westminster Abbey on April 24 1963. Television
commentators pointed out that the bridegroom was clearly more nervous than the bride as he walked down the aisle.
Title or no, the groom's credentials for marrying into the Royal family were always impeccable. Angus James Bruce Ogilvy was born on September
14 1928 at his family's seat, Cortachy Castle, in Angus. His grandmother was a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Mary; his father, the
12th Earl of Airlie, a Lord-in-Waiting to King George V and then Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother from 1956 to 1966; an
uncle was an equerry to the Duke of Windsor when he was Prince of Wales. Ogilvy's brother was Lord Chamberlain from 1984 to 1997.
Young Angus went to Eton, where he coxed the 1st VIII. He was called up in 1946, serving in the ranks for 10 months before being commissioned in the 2nd Battalion, Scot Guards. On coming out after two years, he went up to Trinity College, Oxford.
Despite a pithy warning from his father - "they're all crooks" - Ogilvy decided to go into the City, and in the years immediately following his
marriage, this work took up most of his time; but he also became involved in charitable work and accompanied Princess Alexandra on her official duties, at home and abroad.
In 1965, they made a visit to Japan and, two years later, an extended trip which included Burma as well as Hong Kong, Australia and the
Bahamas. During 1968 they also visited the United States on a trade mission. Ogilvy also accompanied Princess Alexandra when she represented The Queen at the independence ceremony in Mauritius.
In the City, Ogilvy worked for Harley Drayton, who held sway over a large number of companies and understood the power of City snobbery and
the value of having an earl's son as his personal assistant and representative. In 1961 he asked Ogilvy to go to Rhodesia to "have a look at Lonrho" (London & Rhodesia Mining & Land), whose profits were in decline but whose assets Drayton thought undervalued.
Ogilvy's task was to find someone to revive the company's fortunes: he was introduced to Rowland, swiftly fell under his spell, and arranged
for him to take over the running of Lonrho, which bought out Rowland's existing businesses at a generous price. Rowland is quoted by his
biographer as having said of Ogilvy: "I had him eating out of my hand." The two became close friends, and Rowland arranged for Ogilvy to have
what he called "part of the action", a block of Lonrho share options alongside his own.
Among Lonrho's interests were the rail link between Northern Rhodesia and Tanganyika, and the oil pipeline from Beira in Mozambique to
Rhodesia, which took on great importance after the unilateral declaration of independence by Ian Smith and the imposition of economic sanctions by Harold Wilson.
Lonrho was alleged to have been involved in sanctions busting, and questions were being asked in Parliament. Ogilvy resigned from the
boards of Lonrho's Rhodesian subsidiaries in 1968, but he was persuaded by Rowland not to sell his Lonrho stake, and he ignored advice to sever
links with Rowland.
When a group of directors, known as "the Straight Eight", were involved in an attempt to oust Rowland as managing director, this advice became stronger, and, in April 1973, Ogilvy resigned from Lonrho, provoking Rowland to fury at his "disloyalty". Ogilvy hoped that by stepping down
he could avoid scandal. But Edward Heath denounced Lonrho's activities as "an unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism", and the
Department of Trade and Industry appointed inspectors to look into its affairs. As Ogilvy was well known to have been part of Rowland's inner
circle during the period in question, some taint was inevitable. The cynical City view of Ogilvy was that he must be charming but weak.
In 1976 the inspectors published their report, which strongly criticised Ogilvy and other directors of Lonrho. Ogilvy immediately did
the honourable thing, and offered to resign from all his City directorships.
Distressed by the accusations that he had acted both naively and irresponsibly, Ogilvy felt frustrated by the fact that the inspectors'
findings were privileged, blocking the possibility of legal redress. He said in a statement: "There is no way that I can effectively clear my
name. I am thus placed in an impossible position with my colleagues on the boards of the companies on which I serve. In order to avoid
embarrassing them I am, therefore, proposing to resign - because under the circumstances I feel that this is the only honourable thing to do."
During the furore over the DTI report, Ogilvy's position and its effect on Buckingham Palace received the lion's share of press discussion. His
resignation from 17 directorships, which included the Midland Bank, were accepted almost unanimously with "very great regret." However, two
boards - the Rank Organisation and MEPC - refused to accept it.
The Lonrho affair was a watershed in Ogilvy's career. Terminating his full-time City career, he changed direction, initially devoting
considerably more time to his charity commitments.
In 1977 he took a decisive step forward when he was appointed a full-time director of Sotheby's, the international auction house which
described his position as that of a "roving ambassador". With his City background, personal qualities and long-established interest in the
arts, it was a job to which he was ideally suited, and which was to bring enormous satisfaction over the next few years.
At the end of 1977, the Director of Public Prosecutions cleared Ogilvy's name, along with those of the other Lonrho directors, from all
of the most serious criticisms in the DTI report. If it had little direct impact upon his career, the announcement was seen as a vindication of his reputation and the integrity of his conduct.
For the next few years Ogilvy was able to combine his Sotheby's work with expanding charity commitments and his accompaniment of Princess
Alexandra on overseas visits. In 1978 they made a visit to Egypt; in 1979, they represented the Queen at the independence celebrations in St
Lucia; in 1980 they travelled to Hong Kong and later to Burma, Thailand and Australia.
After his marriage to Princess Alexandra, Ogilvy had first leased Thatched House Lodge, in Richmond Park, from Clare Duchess of
Sutherland, then purchased the leasehold; it remained the family home for the rest of their married life.
The birth of their two children briefly ignited the old discussion about Ogilvy's decision to refuse a title, since both the children were
commoners. James Robert Bruce Ogilvy had the rare distinction of being born on a leap-day, February 29 1964, and was christened at Buckingham Palace. Marina Victoria Alexandra was born on July 31 1966 and christened in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace.
Marina Ogilvy later publicly rebelled against her background, announcing to a blaze of publicity that she was expecting a baby by her
boyfriend Paul Mowatt, a photographer, and that she did not intend to marry him. The young couple then changed their minds, and the Queen
gave her consent to the match under the Royal Marriages Act.
But although Ogilvy and Princess Alexandra were at pains to present a united front with their daughter when the wedding went ahead before the birth of a baby girl in February 1990, the newlyweds sold exclusive coverage of the ceremony to Rupert Murdoch's newspaper Today. Soon
there were photographs showing Marina wearing a jump suit and a crown, while perched on a throne and surrounded by corgis. Meanwhile, Marina Mowatt had to give up her position as 24th in line to the throne since her husband was a Roman Catholic. In the event, the marriage was
doomed, and the couple divorced in 1997.
All this was in sharp contrast to Ogilvy's own happy marriage. He and the Princess were known as one of the most conscientious, hard-working
and likeable royal partnerships.
Ogilvy was president of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund for 30 years, despite being an inveterate cigarette smoker. He was president of the
National Association of Youth Clubs from 1969 to 1989; chairman of Friends of the Elderly; and successively chairman, president and patron
of Arthritis Care (formerly British Rheumatism and Arthritis Society). In 1974 he also became Patron of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and, in
1982, patron of the Institute for Complementary Medicine.
He was vice-patron of Toc H and of the National Children's Homes, and chairman of the advisory council of the Prince's Trust. When Princess
Alexandra became Patron of the new Leeds Castle Foundation in 1974, Ogilvy became one of the trustees. In 1984 he became a member of the
governing council of Business in the Community and of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
In addition, Ogilvy was a member of Her Majesty's Bodyguard for Scotland (the Royal Company of Archers) and, in the 1989 New Year's
Honours List, the Queen appointed him KCVO in recognition of his long and active contribution to the official duties of the Royal Family; in
1997 he was appointed Privy Counsellor.
Although always outwardly calm and purposeful, Angus Ogilvy was a man deeply sensitive to the pressures of his position and career. For many
years he suffered from a recurring back complaint - which he tried to alleviate by cycling around London - and this combined with a
highly-strung disposition to lend him a somewhat gaunt appearance. Invariably, however, the natural Scottish charm was quick to surface,
disguising any hint of strain.
All the organisations with which Ogilvy was associated benefited from his acumen and enthusiasm. They quickly came to appreciate his
down-to-earth personality. He was adroit at ensuring that meetings ended with positive action and, by his presence, provided a rare
combination of kudos and worldliness.
Source: Daily Telegraph, 27 December 2004