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Douglas Douglas-Hamilton


(14th Duke of Hamilton; 11th Duke of Brandon)

1903 - 1973

Pioneering aviator and central character in the flight of Rudolf Hess during World War II. Born in Pimlico (London), Douglas-Hamilton was educated at Eton and Balliol College (Oxford). After a period as a Conservative Member of Parliament, he succeeded his father as Duke of Hamilton in 1940, and as such became the Hereditary Keeper of Holyroodhouse, on behalf of the monarch. He also acted as Lord Steward of the Royal Household between 1940 and 1964.

Douglas-Hamilton developed interests in flying during the early 1920s, becoming a Squadron Commander in the Auxiliary Air Force (1927-36). As Marquis of Douglas and Clydesdale, he was co-pilot to David McIntyre on the first flight over Mount Everest (1933) and played a significant role in the setting up of the aircraft manufacturer Scottish Aviation Ltd at Prestwick Airport (which went on to become part of British Aerospace Plc in 1978). During World War II, Douglas-Hamilton took a senior role in the Royal Air Force and was responsible for air defence in Scotland and commanded the Air Training Corps.

Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's deputy, flew to Scotland on the 10th May 1941 heading towards Douglas-Hamilton's home at Dungavel Castle in an attempt to involve the Duke in negotiating peace between Germany and Britain. Much mystery surrounds the reasons behind Hess' initiative and there is some suggestion that the Duke knew Hess was coming, but the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was unimpressed and Hess spent the rest of his life in prison.

Douglas-Hamilton married Elizabeth, daughter of the Duke of Northumberland, in 1937. Lady Elizabeth became the primer mover in the Lamp of Lothian Trust, which has done much to build community facilities in Haddington.

The family seat, Hamilton Palace (South Lanarkshire), having been demolished by his father in the 1920s, Douglas-Hamilton purchased Lennoxlove House (East Lothian) in 1946 as his home. He later purchased Archerfield by Dirleton (1963).

He died in Edinburgh.


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