Returning the family silver

The Earl of Strathmore takes a closer look at the silver cigarette box with Roswitha and Roy Bennett. (Picture by Photos on Location, Forfar).

The Earl of Strathmore takes a closer look at the silver cigarette box with Roswitha and Roy Bennett. (Picture by Photos on Location, Forfar).

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A retired soldier made a special visit to Glamis Castle last week with his wife to return an important piece of family silver (writes Janet Thomson).

Mr Roy Bennett made sure he kept a promise he made to the late Queen Mother that, when he came to dispose of the trinket, he would contact the Royal family first.

As a result he and his wife travelled to the stately home last Wednesday to hand deliver the family heirloom to the 18th Earl of Strathmore.

Mr Bennett travelled from Germany with the silver cigarette box which he purchased at a Sotheby’s auction held in the picturesque village of Pulborough, in the South of England, in 1984.

The inscription on the cigarette box reads ‘Silver Wedding 1881 – 1906, Claude George Earl of Strathmore, from his old friend and brother officer Col. Hanning – 2nd Life Guards’. This made it the original property of the 14th Earl who is the Great Grandfather of the 18th Earl of Strathmore.

Recently retired, after 46 years of uninterrupted service in both the military and the British Frontier Service, Mr Bennett decided the time had come to return the box to its rightful home.

This return journey actually started back in 1992 when The Queen Mother, as Colonel in Chief of the Irish Guards, attended a Regimental dinner in Berlin to which Mr and Mrs Bennett had been invited but who were sadly unable to attend.

Mr Bennett, clearly a resourceful man, asked the Guards Commanding Officer if he would display the cigarette box on the table so that the Queen mother might see this Strathmore family heirloom.

Noticing the box and enquiring about the history, she requested that should Mr Bennett and his wife ever decide to dispose of it, would they please contact the Royal family first.

In March last year Mr Bennett, following the Queen Mother’s instructions to the letter, wrote to St. James Palace and was subsequently put in touch with Lord Strathmore. Lord Strathmore was thrilled to hear about the cigarette box and the fascinating story and was delighted to welcome the couple to Glamis last week.