Sunday, March 19, 2023

The 29th Earl of Crawford & Balcarres, KT, GCVO, PC, DL 1927-2023

 The 29th Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, KT, GCVO, PC, DL, who died 18 March, 2023, aged 96, was a Conservative party politician, was the last surviving person to have sat as an MP in the 1955 parliament.

He was possessor of one the most ancient titles in the peerage the earldom of Crawford having been created in the Peerage of Scotland for Sir David Lindsay in 1398, It is the premier earldom on the Union Roll. 

Robert Alexander Lindsay was born 5 March, 1927, son of the 28th Earl of Crawford & Balcarres, KT, GBE (1900-1975), and his wife Mary Katherine Cavendish (1903-1994), scion of the Dukes of Devonshire, and was known by the courtesy title Lord Balniel from his father's succession to the earldom in 1940 until his father's death, 13 December, 1975.

Lord Balniel, as he then was, was elected Conservative Party MP for Hertford at the 1955 general election, aged 28, and served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Henry Brooke until 1959. From 1959 to 1965, Balniel was president of the Rural District Councils Association, and from 1963 to 1970, he was chair of the National Association for Mental Health.

While the Conservative Party was in opposition, Balniel served as spokesman on Foreign Affairs from 1965 until 1967, and then joined the Shadow Cabinet as spokesman on Social Services. Following the party's victory in the 1970 United Kingdom general election, he served as Minister of State for Defence, then from 1972 was Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Balniel represented Welwyn and Hatfield from the February 1974 general election, but he was defeated in the general election in October, 1974. He was given a life peerage as Baron Balniel, of Pitcorthie in the County of Fife, in January 1975 before succeeding as Earl of Crawford in December the same year. After the passage of House of Lords Act 1999, he sat in the Lords by virtue of his life peerage. He retired from the House of Lords on 28 November 2019.

The Earl of Crawford & Balcarres was appointed First Crown Estate Commissioner from 1980 to 1985. He served as Lord Chamberlain to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother between 1992 and her death in March, 2002. He was appointed a Knight of the Thistle in 1996, and a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) in the 2002 Demise Honours, the special honours list published after the Queen Mother's death.

He married 27 Dec, 1949, Ruth Beatrice Meyer-Bechtler (1924-2021), the daughter of Leo Meyer-Bechtler, by whom he had issue, two sons, Anthony and Alexander, and two daughters, Lady Bettina and Lady Iona. The elder son, Anthony Robert Lindsay, styled Lord Balniel (born 24 November, 1958), succeeds as 30th Earl of Crawford.


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