At the choir and socially I am engaged and -after the latest ships gossip, prior to the Captain’s dinner- married to her Ladyship Mary Stewart-Wilson, widow of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Blair Stewart-Wilson. This is what Google tells about Blair:
- Sir Blair Stewart-Wilson was Equerry to Her Majesty the Queen and Deputy Master of the Household in the Royal Household from 1976 to 1994.
- His role was to assist the Master of the Household, with particular responsibility for the Queen’s private engagements. A man who inspired great affection, he was also admired and trusted by the Royal Family for his soldierly qualities of efficiency and calmness under pressure: when a fire famously engulfed Windsor Castle in November 1992, Stewart-Wilson immediately got on the telephone to the then Master of the Household, Maj-Gen Sir Simon Cooper, to inform him that there was “a bit of a problem”.
- A career soldier with the Scots Guards for nearly 30 years, Stewart-Wilson had only recently arrived at the British embassy in Vienna as defence attaché when he received a telephone call from the Palace inviting him to apply for his role in the Royal Household.
- He soon settled into the arcane and demanding world of Court life: state visits, overseas tours, Commonwealth Conferences, State Openings of Parliament, investitures, Royal Ascot, garden parties and the many other activities which demand the Queen’s attention. Among his tasks was to help the Queen with her arrangements for house guests at the various royal residences throughout the year. He enjoyed his role, and privately described the Queen as “the most competent, fair and even-handed boss anyone could hope for, a person with humour and an enjoyable sense of fun, and someone who, at all times is very good company. All the above qualities are specially remarkable in a person lumbered with a status so high that it tends to affect the attitude and behaviour of everyone around about that person .”
- He worked closely with the Master of the Household, whose department was divided into three branches: F (food), H (housekeeping) and G (general, dealing with everything from the china, glass and wine cellars to palace attendants and staff).
- He was also responsible for royal warrants and, during one period, for updating the telephone exchanges in all the royal residences.
- Stewart-Wilson always insisted that he was “lucky” — not least because of the circumstances surrounding his birth. He was nearly 50 when his mother informed him that, when she was pregnant with him, her gynaecologist had told her that, for medical reasons, she should not have this third baby and should have an abortion. The procedure was duly carried out, yet just under nine months later Blair Aubyn Stewart-Wilson was born on July 17 1929 .
- His mother, Muriel (who had twins in her family), concluded that she had been bearing twins, and that only one had been removed.
- In 1934 Blair’s father, Aubyn, who had fought with the Black Watch in the Great War, died aged 45.
- Two years later Muriel married Major Greville Stevens, and shortly afterwards she inherited the Stewart family estate of Balnakeilly in Perthshire .
- Blair was sent to Eton, and in early 1948 arrived at Sandhurst. Commissioned into the 2nd Battalion the Scots Guards (2SG), he saw active service in Malaya in 1950-51, when his platoon killed six terrorists.
- After returning to Britain, he kept vigil at the catafalque of King George VI in 1952; and on Coronation Day he was detailed to command a half company of street liners in the Mall. “For the return trip to Buckingham Palace,” he recalled, “all the carriages were closed against the rain except the one carrying the substantial figure of Queen Salote of Tonga, whom we enjoyed seeing smiling and waving happily in the rain, while the little Malay Sultan accompanying Her Majesty sat hunched and unhappy, facing her.”
- Stewart-Wilson served with BAOR, and in 1957 was appointed ADC to the next Governor-General of New Zealand, Viscount Cobham. In August that year he embarked on the six-week voyage to Wellington. On board were Cobham with his wife and their eight children; 17 domestic servants; two ADCs; one lady-in-waiting; and a governess and a nanny. In the hold were a Rolls-Royce and five other cars belonging to Lord Cobham, along with Stewart-Wilson’s Rover 90.
- In 1957 Stewart-Wilson was appointed equerry to the Duke of Gloucester, based at Wellington Barracks in London, and in 1962 he married his cousin, Mary Fox — “the best and most sensible thing I ever did”.
- There were further postings in Malaysia and Germany before, in 1970, he became GSO 1 Foreign Liaison Section (Army) at the MoD .
- After retiring from the Royal Household in 1994, Stewart-Wilson served as an Extra Equerry.
- As the Queen’s Trustee on the Board of Royal Armouries from 1995 to 2004, on one occasion he spent a day in armour riding on horseback to see what the experience was like; he sent a photograph of himself thus equipped to the Queen, with the message: “With love from your knight in shining armour”.
- Later, when the Queen saw his grandson, Archie, one of her pages of honour, she told him: “I have a picture of your grandfather on my desk.”
- Stewart-Wilson was appointed LVO in 1983, CVO in 1989 and KCVO in 1994.
- He was Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding the Atholl Highlanders from 2003. In the mid-1950s, he was a bobsleigh enthusiast . He also enjoyed fly fishing, shooting and stalking. Blair Stewart-Wilson is survived by his wife and three daughters.
NOTE: prior to uploading this article, her Ladyship Mary has read and approved the article. Quoting her: “It is all in the open on the internet and true”.