Belfast Telegraph

IRA postbox bomb nearly killed my son, says friend of royal family

Lady Anne Glenconner tells how her son was seconds from death in an IRA bombing in her newly-published memoirs
Lady Anne Glenconner tells how her son was seconds from death in an IRA bombing in her newly-published memoirs

By David O'Dornan

The aristocrat Lady Anne Glenconner, who was a close friend of the Queen's sister Princess Margaret, has revealed that one of her children had a close call with an IRA bomb in the Seventies.

Lady Glenconner, who was a maid of honour at Her Majesty's Coronation in 1953 and was later an extra lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret, said her only surviving son Christopher had a brush with death when a postbox exploded shortly after he had placed a letter in it for her.

She said: "London had become increasingly tense due to bombing attacks by the IRA. In 1974, about half an hour after Christopher had posted a letter for me in the postbox at the end of Tite Street, as he always loved to do, the box blew up."

Lady Glenconner, now 87, said she was at home with her nanny Barbara Barnes, who would later look after Princes William and Harry, and at the time was helping her with her toddler twin girls, Flora and Amy, as well as Christopher, then aged six.

She explained: "I was in the house with him, the twins and Barbara when we heard the explosion. Twenty-one minutes later a bigger bomb in a hedge close to the postbox was detonated, injuring more than 20 people, who had come to the scene in response to the first bomb.

"The threat of these small, neighbourhood bombs was extremely frightening.

"I was always on the alert every time I walked anywhere, knowing there was a risk of danger even on a quiet street, always crossing the road at the sight of a postbox.

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"Security was heightened around the Royal Palaces, and every time I drove to Kensington Palace my car would be inspected with one of those mirrors at the end of a long pole that checked for bombs."

Her colourful life is laid bare in her newly-published memoirs, Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown, in which she also addresses what the Press at the time called a 'curse' on her family.

She suffered a series of personal tragedies concerning her children over a nine-year period, beginning in 1987 when Christopher had a near-fatal motorbike accident while backpacking in South America. It was thanks to Princess Margaret, who Lady Glenconner had appealed to for help, that he survived as she used her influence to have British Army forces fly him to the USA for life-saving surgery.

Three years later Lady Glenconner's son Henry died of AIDS, while in 1996 her eldest child Charlie died of Hepatitis C after years battling a heroin addiction.

She added: "Over time my stress levels began to lower, the sorrow eased, life turned a corner, but it was never the same again. To this day my heart almost stops whenever the telephone rings too late at night.

"I don't know what I would do with another death in the family. The twins had always been so proud of being a big family and having three older brothers, but as Christopher has had to remind us all numerous times, 'Although they're gone, the love continues'."

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