Robert Fellowes has played dual roles throughout the years. He is the husband of Lady Jane Fellowes, the sister of Diana, Princess of Wales. He also worked as the private secretary for the Queen during some of the most tumultuous years between Diana and Prince Charles.
As a result, there has been speculation over the years that these competing loyalties put Jane and Robert Fellowes in a difficult position during the time period when the marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles spectacularly ruptured. Indeed, Robert Fellowes was even accused by the father of Princess Diana’s last boyfriend of being part of a plot to murder her; he produced an alibi and denied the charge, and an inquest found that Diana was not murdered.
Lady Jane – now a baroness – has been tapped to give the reading at the wedding of her nephew, Prince Harry, to Meghan Markle. That has a lot of people wondering about Jane Fellowes’ family.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Robert Fellowes Is Described as Nice, Upright & Responsible
People generally have kind words to say about Jane’s husband, Robert Fellowes. “An enormously upright, caring and responsible person,” was how the Independent quoted a former colleague as saying about him. Another person who knows him told the news site “Robert’s excellent. He’s very steady, which is a good job because he must be having an awful time at the moment.”
Robert Fellowes has the title Lord Robert Fellowes. “Lady Jane took the title of Baroness in 1999, when her husband was appointed a Baron and inducted into the House of Lords,” Town and Country reports. He is a Baron, and his wife is a Baroness.
Fellowes has a background in the banking industry. “Lord Fellowes attended Eton College and joined the Scots Guards in 1960. In 1963 he entered the banking industry and became a Managing Director of Allen Harvey and Ross Ltd, Discount Brokers and Bankers, 1964-77,” The British Library reports.
“He was given a life peerage as Baron Fellowes of Shotesham in the County of Norfolk in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1999 and sits as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords. Lord Fellowes is the Chairman of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust,” the site adds.
2. As the Queen’s Private Secretary, Fellowes Had Many Duties
A private secretary to a British monarch does a lot more than answer mail. “He might be required to accompany the Queen on a visit. He might be preoccupied with the forthcoming arrival of the President of Poland. On Tuesdays he needs to be available to see the Prime Minister after the weekly audience with the Queen,” The Independent reports.
When he was the queen’s private secretary, Robert Fellowes helped guide the public’s perception of the monarchy and, thus, the position holds immense power. The position is typically reserved for the upper-class. Fellowes no longer works in the position, but he held it for nine years.
“Lord (Robert) Fellowes was formerly Private Secretary to Her Majesty The Queen and Keeper of The Queen’s Archive from 1990-99, having joined the Royal Household as Assistant Private Secretary in 1977. He retired as Chairman of Barclays Private Bank in December 2009,” The British Library reports.
3. Fellowes Was Born on a 20,000 Estate & Has Three Children With Lady Jane
Robert Fellowes was born to wealth if not title; “His father was the Sandringham land agent from 1936 to 1964, and Robert was born on the 20,000-acre estate in 1941,” according to The Independent.
Hello Magazine reports that Fellowes “is related to Sarah, the Duchess of York and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.” Prince Harry attended the wedding of Robert and Jane’s son, Alexander, in 2013.
According to the British Library, “Lord Fellowes is Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth Education Trust. He is a Trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation and a Trustee of the British Library Trust. He is Secretary and Registrar of the Order of Merit.”
4. Fellowes Gave Testimony at Diana’s Inquest & Produced an Alibi After He Was Accused of Plotting to Kill Her
After Princess Diana died shockingly and suddenly in a car crash in Paris, conspiracy theories swirled around her death. The prevailing conspiracy theories held that she was bumped off by the Royal Family. An inquest found otherwise. Robert Fellowes and his wife, Jane, were called to give testimony at this inquest.
Lord Fellowes “was called to give evidence at Diana’s inquest after false allegations that he was implicated in the (non-existent) plot to kill the princess,” The Telegraph reported. “I can’t pretend I found it a comfortable experience being in a witness box for four hours .. But the princess’s death was a very, very great tragedy and a tragedy for Mr. al Fayed,” the British news site quotes him as saying.
According to The Telegraph, “Lord Fellowes has been accused by Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed of involvement in a conspiracy to murder his son Dodi and the Princess. In a letter, Mr Al Fayed claimed that Lord Fellowes commandeered the operations room of the British embassy in Paris to help mastermind a plot to murder the couple in the early hours of August 31, 1997, sending messages to GCHQ.” However, the news site reported that Fellowes produced a solid alibi. The inquest determined that Diana’s death was caused by her driver and the paparazzi’s pursuit.
In 1997, The New York Times reported that Robert Fellowes and Prince Charles had argued over Diana’s funeral arrangements at a time when the Queen was receiving criticism for not seeming sympathetic enough about the princess’ death. Fellowes agreed with the queen that Diana should have a private funeral, whereas Charles wanted her to have a state one, according to The Times.
Charles supposedly told Fellowes to “impale himself on his own flagstaff,” CNN reported, but the palace denied the reports of the argument.
5. Robert Fellowes Has Spoken Positively About Diana
Lord Fellowes had kind words for Diana. “She was very good at it; an extraordinary communicator with a great feeling for the underdog. It never became patronising. ..She chose the areas where she thought she could make a difference, and on the whole, she did that,” Fellowes said according to The Telegraph.
Although a witness at Diana’s inquest said she didn’t like Lord Fellowes and that he was one person she feared, he said, according to The Telegraph, “I was deeply fond of her. She was very good person. She found it difficult in life to find happiness, and I’m sad for people who have that situation.”