Saturday 13 October 2012

Tragic Aristos.

Money, fame, and beauty, would normally be regarded as the passport to happiness. But not so with certain families.

Back in the early 70's I spent a couple of months living at one of my people's cottages on top of a hill between England (Shropshire), and Wales (Powys). One of our near neighbours was Lord Harlech; his huge red brick Georgian mansion was just a stone's throw away.

Harlech had five children; Francis (the present Lord Harlech), Alice (above), Jane, Julian, and Victoria. They epitomised the era's fashion for the children of the privileged to indulge in a lifestyle of drug-fuelled carefree hippy-dom.

My enduring memory of Harlech's children was of his youngest daughter Alice riding bareback in flowing multi-coloured crushed velvet robes. She would pass by our isolated house on a regular basis. She'd wave, say hello, and be gone. She could have stepped directly from an Incredible String Band record cover. The picture above is exactly how I remember her physically; beautiful but slightly soulful.

Harlech's children seemed to live the ideal life; London society during the week, and daddy's palatial pile at the weekend.  

But life is not always how it seems. Julian shot himself in 1974, and dear Alice died of a massive heroin overdose in 1995; she was found with the syringe still in her arm.

Stress, pressure, expectation; who knows what drove them to despair. But a more perfect and privileged life would be difficult to imagine.

The loss of life of an 'aristo' is no more tragic than that of someone from the other end of the social circle, but, somehow,  it seems to be.


  1. Yes, we live under the illusion that money/privilege somehow brings with it happiness – but not so. Sadness straddles all social classes and a ‘privileged’ upbringing does not necessarily offer privilege to sound mental health.

    And you are right – it does seem more tragic…

    Anna :o]

  2. I suppose we/I imagine that it's easier to get out of the trap of addiction somehow with access to money (decent rehab/holidays/distractions) . . . But it's obviously not so. I still think about Eva Rausling with sadness, I've heard no more about her husband.

    1. No I've heard nothing either; I imagine he's receiving 'treatment'. Another very sad case.

  3. It's the waste of a life that's tragic Cro...any life. One can't help wondering if it is the sheer lack of purpose that makes people so unhappy - perhaps they just needed to feel their lives had meaning.

  4. This is so very sad, Mr. M. The privilaged live lives in spendor, ( or its seems) to the outside world, and on the inside, their souls are crying out in pain and desperation for "something".
    We have "privilaged" living in my little hillybilly hell, and they are the most miserable souls I have ever met. I knew several who had new homes, new cars,money and all that you would seem to make one happy, but they were the most miserable souls ever. Now one has cancer and it seems that not all the money in the world will help that either.
    Have a peaceful weekend Mr M and Lady M. You truly live in paradise.

  5. access to all the money means access to buy all the drugs one wants...

    i've always imagined that growing up with vast wealth could indeed hamper one's motivation to DO something with one's life. That would be difficult, not to strive at the time of life where strife and struggle define our character. It's the challenges that test our mettle. What chance have they to sharpen their edges with struggle?

  6. Funny you mention this, as the old Simon and Garfunkel tune "Richard Corey" based on an older poem popped in my head this week. Same theme.

    I think for those of us less wealthy, it's a wonder, as they seem to have everything they could want, so how can they be so unhappy or fall victim to things like addiction.

    It shows me that we're all the same, regardless of our station.

  7. unhappy is unhappy regardless of money


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