The Earl of Lovelace, the son of a colourful aristocrat and Highland laird, has died at the age of 66.
Peter Axel William Locke King, the 5th Earl of Lovelace, passed away peacefully at his home in the Highlands.
He was the son of Peter Malcolm King, 4th Earl of Lovelace and Lis Manon Transö.
The 5th Earl married twice, firstly to Kirsteen Kennedy, daughter of renowned Scottish singer Calum Kennedy, in 1980 but divorced nine years later.
He then married Kathleen Smolders in 1994.
Peter succeeded as the 5th Earl of Lovelace, the 12th Lord King, Baron of Ockham and 5th Viscount Ockham of Ockham in 1964.
The family’s ancestral home Torridon House and some of its contents were auctioned off just over two years ago.
His father was a big game hunter in East Africa before the Second World War and many of his trophies were in the house.
The 4th Earl bought estates near Lake Babati in what was then Tanganykia – modern day Tanzania – and friends included the famous Swedish hunter Baron Bror von Blixen-Fineke, husband of Karen Blixen, who later wrote: Out of Africa, about her time on the continent.
The aristocrat built the ‘Fig Tree Club’ for his friends and neighbours overlooking Lake Babati, which was run at one point by Bror’s second wife, Jacqueline ‘Cockie’ Birkbeck. The club served as the social centre of the area and is probably the “little hotel overlooking the lake” that Ernest Hemmingway wrote of in Green Hills of Africa.
Peter snr was particularly good friends with Bror’s nephew, Baron Carl-Frederik von Blixen-Fineke and after Carl-Frederik’s early death in 1950 he married his widow Manon Lis, instantly becoming step-father to four young children.
Their own son, also Peter, was born the following year.
Peter snr had left Africa before the outbreak of the Second World War, so the Earl and his new family divided their time between the Von Blixen estate in Sweden and Ben Damph, their remaining home in Britain.
When the fourth Earl heard they were to build a road past Ben Damph to Shieldaig, he took the opportunity to buy Torridon House and the estate in 1960 and moved across the loch.
Today it is the Torridon Hotel, although no longer in family hands.
On the 4th Earl’s death the estate, including the dramatic mountain ranges, was given to the government in lieu of death duties and three years later was transferred to the National Trust for Scotland.
The 5th Earl spent his childhood in Torridon and Sweden, as well as Denmark, the South of France and the Canary Islands. After school in London, he stayed in the capital and went into the nightclub business.
He divided his time between London and Torridon and later ran various boutique shops in Inverness.
After his mother died in 1990, Peter spent more time in London, where he took his seat in the House of Lords. He met his second wife, Kathleen, Countess of Lovelace, whilst visiting mutual friends in Turkey in 1993. He was involved in the property business in London during the 1990s, but then decided to spend more time at Torridon from the beginning of the new century.