Updated: Family pay tribute to Duke of Roxburghe after death at age of 64

The 10th Duke of Roxburghe, Guy Innes-Ker, has died at the age of 64 after losing a long fight against cancer.

Friday, 6th September 2019, 4:02 pm
Guy Innes-Ker, the 10th Duke of Roxburghe.

The duke is said to have died peacefully at his family’s ancestral home, Floors Castle, near Kelso, last Thursday, August 29.

He is survived by Virginia, the Duchess of Roxburghe, five children and five grandchildren.

His eldest son, Charles Innes-Ker, 38, the Marquis of Bowmont, now succeeds his father as 11th Duke of Roxburghe.

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Guy Innes-Ker, the 10th Duke of Roxburghe, front right, at Floors Castle, near Kelso, with his family.

The duke’s family have issued a statement telling of their sorrow at their loss. It reads: “We are all deeply saddened that the duke has lost his battle with an illness he fought with great courage and determination.

“He was a wonderful and loving husband to Virge and devoted father to Rosie, Charlie, Ted, Bella and George, and it is a desperate loss to us all.

“His family meant so much to him, and he was always there to offer love, guidance and support.

“He really was a Corinthian figure who was a great sportsman, a passionate fisherman who made a huge contribution to fisheries management on the River Tweed and a successful businessman who modernised and turned Roxburghe Estates into the successful business it is today.

“He took particular pride in seeing the work he and Virge had undertaken to establish Floors Castle and its gardens as one of the premier visitor attractions in Scotland.

“He derived enormous success and enjoyment from racing and the thoroughbred stud at Floors, including breeding the first double classic winner, Attraction, in the early 2000s.

“We know he will be missed by so many in different spheres, in particular by staff and farm tenants on the Roxburghe Estates.

“We are extremely grateful for the outstanding medical care the duke received at the Brompton Hospital in London and at home by the Borders palliative care team, supported by the Scottish Nursing Guild.”

The duke, born on November 18 in 1954, inherited his title in 1974 at the age of 19 while serving in the British Army with the Blues and Royals in Cyprus, having won the sword of honour months earlier as the top officer cadet of his intake at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in Berkshire. However, after the unexpected death of his father, George Innes-Ker, at the age of 61, responsibility for managing 18th-century Floors Castle and its 60,000-acre estate arrived decades earlier than he’d expected.

Like many other such estates, it was in urgent need of modernisation, being overly dependent on agriculture and vulnerable to death duties, so the safeguarding of that inheritance was to account for much of his life’s work.

Having been put on a more business-like footing and much diversified, it now encompasses farming, forestry, commercial sport, bloodstock, renewable energy, property management and tourism.

The castle was opened to the public in 1977, and visitor numbers rocketed after the 1984 Hollywood movie Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, starring Christopher Lambert and Andie MacDowell, was filmed there.

One of his greatest enthusiasms was flat racing and breeding, and he was hailed as the most successful Scottish thoroughbred breeder of modern times.

He oversaw the rise of the Floors Stud, founded by his father in 1947, to international fame, thanks to Attraction, a filly born in 2001.

After being written off by other trainers, Attraction became the first horse to win both the 1,000 Guineas and Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Following a near-fatal bout of cancer in 2009, the duke also devoted much of his time to raising money for charity.

He was educated at Eton College in Berkshire and Magdalene College at Cambridge.

He completed his military career in 1977, having met his first wife, Jane Grosvenor, while serving in Northern Ireland. They married in 1977 and had three children – Rosanagh, born in 1979; Charles, born in 1981; and Edward, born in 1984. Their marriage was dissolved in 1990.

The duke married his second wife, interior designer Virginia Wynn-Williams, in 1992, and two further children – Isabella, born in 1994; and George, born in 1996 – followed.

The duke was a long-serving horse-racing administrator with the Jockey Club, chaired the British Horse Racing Authority disciplinary board and became chairman of the National Stud in 2017.

He was also a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, a freeman of the City of London, president of the Border Union Agricultural Society, director of Kelso Races and, for over 30 years, a member of the Tweed Commission.

The duke had a long-term interest in renewable energy and was one of the first historic house owners to install a biomass heating system using wood chips from the estate. In 2001, he began looking into generating wind power on his land, and the Fallago Rig wind farm, built in 2013 in partnership with North British Wind Power, now provides energy for 90,000 homes.

It was in 2009 that the duke was first diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus, overcoming it then, only for it to return this year.

In between those bouts of cancer, he raised more than £1.3m with former Sotheby’s chairman Henry Wyndham for the US-based Orbis Flying Eye Hospital and a cancer research project at Brunel University in London.

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