Duke of Argyll joked his fourth wife was his DAUGHTER

A Very British Scandal could have been more sordid! Duke of Argyll joked his fourth wife was his DAUGHTER as he was ‘having an affair with her mother at time of her conception’, claims Lady Colin Campbell

  • Lady Colin Campbell Ian Campbell joked his wife Mathilda Coster Mortimer was his daughter as he ‘had an affair with her mother around the time of conception’ 
  • Described her former father-in-law as ‘a gigolo who picked women up, married them then dropped them once he’d exhausted them of money’ in new interview
  • Biographer and reality TV star was married to Ian’s son Lord Colin Campbell  

A Very British Scandal captured audiences across the country when it aired last week telling the tale of the toxic 1963 divorce trial of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. 

It was the sordid real life tale of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll (played by Claire Foy) who was branded a nymphomaniac by her husband. the 11th Duke of Argyll, Ian Campbell (played by Paul Bettany) and accused of sleeping with 88 men during their marriage.

But her daughter-in-law, royal biographer Lady Colin Campbell has said the real scandal was between Ian Campbell and his fourth wife Mathilda Coster Mortimer – as he joked that the American socialite 22 year his junior was his daughter.    

Speaking to the Sun on Sunday  Lady Colin, 72, who was married to Ian’s son Lord Colin Campbell for one year in 1974,  said: ‘The real British ­scandal was that he joked that one of his wives was his daughter. It was widely accepted he was having an affair with his wife’s mother around the time of her conception. It was a mark of the man. 

Margaret Campbell, and Ian Douglas Campbell, 11th Duke of Argyll are pictured on their wedding day at Caxton Hall in London, 23rd March 1951 – there’s been a new found interest in their story thanks to A Very British Scandal

While a Very British Scandal wowed audiences with sordid tales, Lady Colin Campbell – the Duke of Argyll’s daughter-in-law, claims that the real scandal was between the aristocrat and his fourth wife (pictured together in 1964) 

‘He may have been my father-in-law, but for me he was a gigolo who picked women up, married them then dropped them once he’d exhausted them of money’.

She added that he would ‘fly into drunken rages’ and was a ‘bullying wife-beater’. 

Mathilda Campbell was born in Geneva to US parents – Mathilda and Stanley in 1925. and married The Duke of Argyll in 1963 just weeks after his divorce from his first wife.

Last week, the former I’m A Celebrity contestant described the Duchess of Argyll as ‘her best friend’.

She told Tatler: ‘I was her best friend. She always called me “sweetie”. This supposed promiscuity – there’s no evidence for it. She was so fastidious that she wouldn’t want her hair mussed up.

‘I remember [a mutual friend] who said that he’d never known her to be with a man who wouldn’t have recoiled at the sight of a naked female body.  But she did have big romances, such as with the head of Pan Am, Bill Lyons. He’s the one that Margaret told me was in the Polaroid.’

In the new interview, Lady C added that the pair grew close because they’d been through similar situations – with their respective husbands, who were father and son.

Paul Bettany and Claire Foy played the warring couple in A Very British Scandal which aired last week

Lady Colin Campbell (pictured) has said the real scandal was between Ian Campbell and his fourth wife Mathilda Coster Mortimer – as he joked that she was his daughter

 She added that the BBC’s depiction of the Duchess, who 1993 aged 80, was ‘laughable’ as she was a ‘style icon’ and had ‘unflappable hair that never moved’ whereas Claire Foy’s hair ‘swished around and walked like Joan Collins’.  

The three-part series, which started on Boxing Day, tells the real-life story of Margaret, who in the early 1960s was at the centre of scandal when her high-profile divorce case exposed her adventurous sex life. 

She dominated the front pages as her divorce from the Duke of Argyll played out – featuring accusations of forgery, theft, violence, drugtaking, secret recording, bribery and the pictures. 

The first episode of A Very British Scandal took viewers by surprise as they watched Foy perform three sex scenes in the first 30 minutes of the first episode  – with two different men. 

It showed Margaret seducing a man at a dinner party before romping with her on-screen husband at his Scottish stately home and in a cleaning cupboard at her parents’ property. 

It comes just days after Foy spoke out about how she hates doing sex scenes, saying they make her feel ‘exploited’ and that they are the ‘grimmest thing you can do’.  

As Claire Foy played Margaret, Duchess of Argyll ithe Boxing Day drama,

The photo: In the following scene, the actress opened a letter containing the explicit images (pictured) 

The first episode took place just 16 minutes into the first episode, between Margaret and an unnamed stranger she meets at a fun-filled dinner party.

Audiences never finds out the identity of this man, but in later scenes with a female friend, it is suggested that Margaret would regularly sleep with men she met the same evening.

The second sex scene took place 26 minutes into the episode. It shows Margaret arriving at Inveraray Castle in Scotland, the home of Ian Campbell, the Duke of Argyll.

At the time of their first meeting, the Duke was still married to Louise Timpson.

Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll (1912 – 1993) outside the law courts in the Strand on the second day of her case

But that didn’t stop the Duke and his guest from sleeping together. Moments after they had sex, he asked Margaret for her hand in marriage.

Born in 1912, the only child of a self-made Scottish millionaire, Margaret was described by her biographer Lyndsy Spence as ‘a daddy’s girl with an absent father, living with a jealous mother who sought to remind Margaret of her every shortcoming’.

So who was the headless man? 

The ‘Headless Man’ in the salacious pictures of the duchess disclosed in the divorce case has never been definitively identified. Society ached to know his identity, and the duke was even required to pose naked to prove the torso wasn’t his.

Margaret (pictured) carried the secret of the ‘headless man’ identity to her grave

The suspects included Hollywood actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr and German diplomat Sigismund von Braun, but chief among them was Duncan Sandys, the Minister of Defence and Winston Churchill’s son-in-law. 

A Channel 4 documentary in 2000 claimed that the ‘Headless Man’ was in fact two different men – Sandys and Fairbanks Jr – but it seems this may be one secret Margaret carried with her to her grave.

As such, Margaret developed a stammer for which she was treated unsuccessfully by Lionel Logue, King George VI’s speech therapist.

She was just 15 when the future movie star David Niven, two years her senior, got her pregnant while holidaying on the Isle of Wight, after which her father sent her to a London nursing home for a secret termination.

As a young woman, her beauty was renowned in society and she was courted by princes and millionaires, welcoming playwright Noel Coward, actor Cary Grant and oil tycoon J Paul Getty, among others, to her Mayfair home. She went on to have four failed engagements before a failed marriage to Charles Sweeny, an Irish-American stockbroker.

Their wedding day in 1933 was a glamorous affair, stopping traffic for three hours as 2,000 guests attended the Brompton Oratory in west London while another 2,000 onlookers gathered to see the stunning 28ft train to her Norman Hartnell wedding gown. 

Despite having a daughter, Frances, and a son, Brian, together, the couple’s relationship broke down after 14 years, with Margaret claiming all Charlie wanted in a spouse was a ‘pretty brainless doll’ and they divorced in 1947.  

In 1951 she wed Ian Douglas Campbell, the 11th Duke of Argyll, after meeting him on a train at Paris’s Gare du Nord station in 1949. He’d pursued her relentlessly, knowing she was rich while his own estate was worth nothing. 

She took pity on him and convinced her father to give him £100,000 to restore his family seat in Scotland, Inveraray Castle. The duke then signed a Deed of Gift offering various items as security for the money, and vowed to marry her when his own divorce had come through.

After tying the knot the couple lived in luxury, skiing in St Moritz, sailing in the Bahamas and holidaying in St Tropez. Fashion designers and socialites clamoured around the duchess.

But the duke soon showed his true colours, with rumours of gambling and drug and alcohol addiction, as well as a vile temper.  

The couple had agreed to have an open marriage and live separately. ‘How many men do you have?,’ Bettany asks. ‘How many women do you have?,’ Foy replies.

But angry that the duchess was no longer funding his excessive lifestyle, the duke hired private detectives to follow his wife. He filed for divorce. 

Central to the case was a set of blurry Polaroid snaps taken via the bathroom mirror of the duchess’s Mayfair apartment of her wearing nothing but her signature triple string of pearls. In some, she was entertaining an unidentified lover whose head had been cropped out of the picture and who came to be known as the ‘Headless Man’.

The pictures had been discovered by her husband, who allegedly hired a locksmith to gain access to his wife’s private papers. 

And yet the technicalities of the prehistoric legal system at that time (and the fact that many of her ‘lovers’ were gay) prevented the duchess from giving her side of the story without risking imprisonment.

A Very British Scandal focuses especially on the attitudes towards women at the time, as Margaret was vilified throughout the divorce battle for refusing to go quietly, despite being betrayed by friends and publicly shamed by society.

It took four years after he filed for divorce for a verdict to be reached, which granted it to the duke on the grounds of Margaret’s adultery.

She was ordered to pay most of the £50,000 legal bill. Meanwhile nothing was said about his own affairs or his subsequent remarriage to Mathilda Mortimer, a rich American, just six weeks later.

After the case Margaret fell out with her daughter Frances, who had not wanted her to oppose the divorce, and thanks to her extravagant lifestyle and some bad investments her fortune diminished. She lost her home and, although eventually reconciled with Frances, her children put her in a nursing home in London, where she died penniless in 1993.

The original photograph showed Margaret – wearing nothing but a string of pearls – involved in a sexual act with a ‘headless’ man in her home.

The photo had been cropped at the man’s neck and for years his identity was unknown.

However, a documentary in 2000 identified him as Cabinet minister and Winston Churchill’s son-in-law Duncan Sandys.

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