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Monday, April 6, 2020

Lord Bath dying at age 87 - Falklands to Longleat zoo

This archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean has an extant of roughly 12000 sq.kilo meters and there have been wars for this and named after this.  Way back in 1982 – had read in newspapers about the war between England and Argentina – almost 12000kms away. . In Apr 1982, Argentine military forces invaded the islands. Its sovereignty status is part of an ongoing dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  The Falklands War was a 10-week undeclared war between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982 over two British dependent territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands and its territorial dependency, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

The conflict began on 2 April, when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands, followed by the invasion of South Georgia the next day. On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with an Argentine surrender on 14 June, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel, and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities.

The conflict has had a strong effect in both countries and has been the subject of various books, articles, films, and songs. Patriotic sentiment ran high in Argentina, but the outcome prompted large protests against the ruling military government, hastening its downfall and the democratization of the country.

Every news page is filled up with Corona and its devastation – this too a news of a corona virus is different and interesting !  Longleat Safari and Adventure Park in Wiltshire, England, was opened in 1966 as the first drive-through safari park outside Africa. The park is situated in the grounds of Longleat House, an English stately home which is open to the public and is the home of the 7th Marquess of Bath.  Longleat is home to over 500 animals, and the estate occupies 9,000 acres (36.42 km2) of Wiltshire countryside.

Animal pictures from the fb page of Longleat zoo

The news is not of the park or but its animal – not even of its eccentric owner  Lord Bath dying  aged 87 after testing positive for coronavirus but some history as well. Alexander Thynn, the 7th Marquess of Bath, died at the Royal United Hospital in Bath  after being admitted on March 28. He was the owner of Longleat Safari Park in Warminster, but was best known for his flamboyant dress sense and affairs with as many as 70 women, which he referred to as his 'wifelets'.  Viscount Weymouth gave many of his mistresses homes to live in within the grounds of his sprawling Wiltshire estate.

The Mirror and other media put that Viscount Weymouth was married to Anna Gael, with whom he had two children, but had affairs with 70 'wifelets' who he tried to put up around the Longleat estates. He was a prolific amateur painter and studied art in Paris in the 1950s, where he is believed to have picked up his colourful taste in clothes.  The eccentric aristocrat also had frescoes done of the Kama Sutra so he could decorate his lavish home with erotic images. In 2009 he was ranked 359th in the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated net worth of £157million. 

Lord Bath - then Viscount Weymouth - was educated at Eton and Oxford, where he was president of the famous Bullingdon Club. He was involved in politics, and stood in the very first European parliamentary elections in 1979, representing the Wessex Regionalist Party which he helped to found. After inheriting the Marquess seat in 1992, he then sat as a Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords but lost his seat when Labour reforms excluded most hereditary peers.

Reading about the Bath takes to the Falklands Crisis not of 1982 but that  of 1770  - this time not with Argentina but a diplomatic standoff between Great Britain and Spain over possession of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. These events were nearly the cause of a war between Britain and Spain — backed by France — and all three countries were poised to dispatch armed fleets to defend the rival claims to sovereignty of the barren but strategically important islands. Ultimately, a lack of French support for Spain defused the tension, and Spain and Britain reached an inconclusive compromise in which both nations maintained their settlements but neither relinquished its claim of sovereignty over the islands.

Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath, KG, PC (1734 – 1796), of Longleat in Wiltshire, was a British politician who held office under King George III. He served as Southern Secretary, Northern Secretary and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Between 1751 and 1789, he was known as the 3rd Viscount Weymouth. He is possibly best known for his role in the Falklands Crisis of 1770. Marquess of Bath is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1789 for Thomas Thynne, Viscount Weymouth.

The Thynne family descends from the soldier and courtier Sir John Thynne who constructed Longleat House between 1567 and 1579. In 1641 his great-grandson Henry Frederick.  Lord Weymouth died without surviving male issue in 1714 and was succeeded in the peerages by his great-nephew, the second Viscount.  The ffith   Marquess  was a Conservative politician and served briefly as Under-Secretary of State for India in 1895. His second but eldest surviving son, the sixth Marquess, represented Frome in the House of Commons as a Conservative. The latter's second but eldest surviving son, the seventh Marquess, succeeded in 1992. He was a well-known politician, author and artist.

In 2015 the Times described him as "a steaming pile of ancient kaftans and one of our wuffliest and weirdest mad-hatter aristocrats. He is best known for swanning around Longleat, his enormous Elizabethan pad in Wiltshire, entertaining his 75 concubines, or as he called them, “wifelets”.

Interesting Britain and its peerages and somehow all of them seemingly have some Indian connection as well !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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