The Duke of Marlborough discussed the challenges he has overcome and the innovations he has put in place since become the custodian of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Blenheim Palace. When it comes to running the estate, his grace said that he has a “fantastic relationship” with his CEO, and that he goes out onto the estate as often as he can. He reflected that getting away is also important, so that he can come back to it with “fresh eyes”.
His grace talked about the history of his family and of Blenheim, particularly the nineteenth century, when the family ran into financial difficulty. The Duke at the time married the American heiress Consuela Vanderbilt, who his grace described as a remarkable woman. Her father, Commodore Vanderbilt, built his fortune from nothing, having arrived in America to work as a ticket collector. One of the Duke’s aims is to buy back as much of the art and objects that were sold off during the nineteenth century as possible and restore them to Blenheim’s collections. These days nothing is sold or removed from the property, including a Roman funery urn which was recently discovered in the gardens being used as a flower pot.
His grace said that he’d be happy anywhere “so long as my dear wife is with me”, and that his children, who are currently in day school, are “divine”. Ultimately, the Duke of Marlborough feels that caring for Blenheim is “a great privilege, and I’m doing the best I can to be a good custodian”.