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Saturday, May 05, 2018

Patricia Countess of Harewood 1926-2018

_. Patricia Countess of Harewood, who died 4 May, 2018, aged 91, was the second wife, and widow, of the 7th Earl of Harewood, KBE (1923-2011), a cousin of the Queen.

She was born 24 November, 1926, as Patricia Elizabeth Tuckwell, a daughter of Charles Tuckwell, of Sydney, Australia, by his wife the former Elizabeth Jane Norton, and her first marriage was to Athol Shmith.

It was as Patricia Tuckwell, a violinist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, that she met the Earl of Harewood in 1959. Lord Harewood, the eldest grandson of King George V and Queen Mary had married Marion Stein, the pianist, in 1949, by whom he had three sons. The couple soon fell in love and the Countess of Harewood initially refused to grant her husband a divorce though she relented in 1967, three years after Patricia had given birth to his son.

The affair had constitutional repercussions. It caused a major scandal and constitutional difficulties involving the Queen herself. As supreme governor of the Church of England, the sovereign was officially unable to countenance remarriage after divorce - her permission for her cousin to marry was necessary under the terms of the Royal Marriages Act 1772. But Prime Minister Harold Wilson saved the Queen embarrassment by putting the question to the Cabinet. The Cabinet agreed and with the Queen's consent it was announced that she had acted, as a constitutional monarch had to, on the advice of her Government.

The scandal forced the Earl of Harewood to resign as Chancellor of York University, and it resulted in him being ostracised by the royal family for a long time afterwards.

Patricia and the Earl of Harewood married in the United States, on 31 July, 1967, but made their home at Harewood House near Leeds. The stately home became the Countess of Harewood's beloved home for the next fifty years.

Lady Harewood was widowed, 11 July, 2011, when the peerage passed to the earl's son from his first marriage, David Lascelles, now 8th Earl.

The countess leaves two sons, Michael Shmith, from her first marriage, and the Hon Mark Lascelles, from her marriage to Lord Harewood.

The funeral takes place at All Saints Church, in the grounds of Harewood House, near Leeds, 18 May, 2018

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