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I, Me, Myself: Mark of a nobleman

The Duke of Argyll, Scotland, Torquhil Ian Campbell, manages to balance his modern persona with his royal legacy and the global business that he runs from his seat at Inverary Castle

  • Duke of Argyll, Scotland, Torquhil Ian Campbell. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • The Duke of Argyll is the hereditary Master of the Royal Household of Scotland and one of the Queen's repImage Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Proud to be a Campbell... The duke with Archie, Charlotte, wife Eleanor, and Rory (extreme right).Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM

The line on the official Campbell family coat of arms reads: Ne Obliviscaris (Do not forget), a motto which the present heir, the 13th Duke from the House of Argyll, Scotland - Torquhil Ian Campbell - takes very seriously.

The title bequeathed upon the Campbell family as part of the Royal Peerage of Scotland and the United Kingdom comes witha fascinating piece of history and the duke cannot forget that.

When you have ancestors who have played an active part in Scottish history since the 13th century and who had significant roles in Elizabethan England and the Cromwellian era, when you have an 18th-century castle for a home and carry the responsibility of remaining true to the rich heroic exploits of your family history, it becomes a responsibility to balance that family legacy with a contemporary, breezy and urban lifestyle. A skill the duke learned early in life.

"I am who I am, and I do not have a private and public persona," says the rather down-to-earth duke, who succeeded his father, Ian Campbell, the 12th Duke, in 2001.

He juggles many roles, as duke, clan chief and landowner, and tries to fulfil his traditional and ceremonial duties even as he manages the 50,000 acres of family estate, other interests and a thriving tourism business and, at the same time not forgetting to be the 21st-century father tohis three children, Archie (7), Rory (5) and Charlotte (2).

Yes, he goes to work every day. OK, so it's not a nine-to-five routine like most office-goers, but it is work. He also takes his kids out for pizzas and burgers and goes for a walk every day with his wife Eleanor, the Duchess of Argyll, by the riverside close to the castle. However, like most royalty he indulges in elite sports, such as playing elephant polo in Nepal and Thailand and being the defending captain of the Scottish polo team, the current international champions ofthe sport. At the same time, he is aware that his family name carries weight and never forgets to use his position to raise money for charities, not for fame, but for help he feels is required bythe lesser-known, modest organisations closer to his home.

He is thus a man of two worlds; one who possesses the royal mystique of his ancestors and deals with a heroic historical identity, and one who works hard to be a modern-day dad and husband. His lesson to his children is that nothing is ever handed to anyone on a platter. You have to work hard to make a living.

Meeting him, you do want to believe in the legends of knights in shining armour, but it is also a real acknowledgement that they too need to have their head firmly fixed on their shoulders, work on a budget and also use the local trains, busses, trams and planes to reach destinations - as the duke did to attend a polo event he sponsored in Dubai in January. Friday got a ringside peek into his world.

I, Me, Myself

I can look back and see that the most important thing my upbringing and grooming taught me was patience. I've always felt that if one can wait for a little while, things always get better. As children we were never made to feel special. I am very fortunate to have had a very amazing upbringing that prepared me to face challenges.

I consider myself fortunate to be born into the House of Argyll. Clan Campbell is one of the most famous families of Scotland.

We were given the freedom as children to explore our surroundings. We could run around and disappear into the trees. Today, people do not let kids out of sight. We grew up with traditional values such as respecting elders and behaving responsibly. We were brought up to have a conversation rather than watch television. Today you come across people who cannot talk to you beyond two or three lines.

I think of Cadbury when I think of the colour purple. My wife Eleanor is the daughter of George Cadbury and that brand has a special place in my life.

I believe in humanity before royalty because that comes above everything. There is goodness in everybody and it all depends on how you utilise it.

I am a great people's person and love to understand what makes people and cultures around the world work well.

I have travelled all over the world and like to think of myself as well rounded in my understanding of people.

I consider the role of royalty in our times to have expanded to include celebrities such as film stars who are the now the new royalty. Whether you are born into it or you inherit it, you have to act very wisely and responsibly. If you are not respected or liked by the people you represent, they will say you do not deserve it. Despite all that, a royal status does not have the same gravitas today as it did years ago.

I think the world ought to believe in a knight in shining armour astride a magnificent steed because it provides us a sense of fantasy. If you continue to be too realistic, you cannot count on him and he might never show up at all, disappointing you.

I wear my kilt with pride as it represents my history and tradition. I wear a kilt in Scotland as I would wear a suit in any other part of the world. It is a smart outfit. One can have a single kilt and use different jackets and bow ties from morning to evening to accessorise it differently. The tartan pattern on the kilt represents a family.

I love adventure as it gives me a thrill to be able to always see what is round the corner, than never be able to see it at all.

I have in the course of my work met many charismatic people. The most memorable meeting I recall was with Sir Edmund Hillary. It's something I still hold close to my heart. He was so simple and so humble and yet here was a man who had achieved the most amazing things in life. He never asked to be famous, just did what came naturally to him.

I look upon elephant polo as a game of speed, elegance, skill and glamour. You bond with the pachyderm and also when you are a good polo player you usually are a natural rider and then have to concentrate only on hitting the ball.

I play in Nepal and Thailand from themonths of September to late November. The game is extremely competitive and once you've finished the contest, you can be friends again with everybody.

Besides polo, I love golf, go fishing, play soccer with my sons and also go scuba diving.I have learnt a lot trying to balance tradition and past values with modern practices and beliefs.

I have endeavoured to do my best and hope that in the future people will look back and say that I left my mark in a positive way.

I, Me, Myself

Me and my relationship to history: I belongto a family which has been around for 1,200 years playing an important role in the historyof Scotland.

My ancestors have had a role to play in the rich tapestry of events that unfolded in Scotland and Great Britain and I think royalty and history are intertwined.

Me and philanthropy: I am associated with half a dozen charities where I try and putthem in contact with the people who I thinkcan help them.

I like to work with charities that are modest, where I can take personal interest. For instance, I work with two local charities - one which teaches students how to play the bagpipes and another that helps disadvantaged people go on holidays. I think each one has this need to help those in need and does it differently.

My father was involved with many charities, but when he passed on and people asked meto continue, I did not. I think you must associate yourself with charities where you are completely committed and which you personally believe in.

For me the rule of the thumb is not to work with big charities.

Me and my inner world: I do not believe in being this or that. What you see is what you get. I do not try and put on an image that's not me. I am the same with my family and friends as I am with the world at large.

Me and my family: I am very proud of being a Campbell. It was the strong passion and vision of our family over many generations that helped shape the Scotland that we know and love today.

I am fortunate to have three fantastic children and a lovely wife. I think I am blessed and one day I hope to bequeath some important legacies to them. For Archie - my oldest son, whoI hope one day will take on the family mantle -a passion and love of all that the family stands for. For Rory, a great sense of humour and a love of adventure so that he can go and carve hisown niche in life. For Charlotte, a passionate love of life.

Me and my favourite aphorism: Myfather used to say to me, remember to pass onto your children something greater and betterthan was given to you. How right he was when you consider how much the taxman takes when you die!

Me and my idea of fun: I am an outdoors person. I love the fresh air and the river. I am passionate about fly fishing and the solitude and concentration helps me sort myself out, switch off from the world and de-stress. I take off from home for an hour whenever I can.

I, Me, Myself

My family titles and myself: All my titles are inherited and are there because the family earned them. I am who I am and I know that I haven't done anything personally to deserve them. I think if you want respect, you have got to earn that.

These titles do not necessarily make you be a better person. I know I have to work hard to earn my own place in society.

Living in a castle in modern times: We are very lucky as Inveraray Castle is considered to be a very modern castle. So much so that it is not really a castle but a palace, as it was never fortified, having been built after the last battle in Scotland in 1745.

It was built as a status symbol by the dukes to show their new-found wealth and status. The very old history combined with dark rooms and draughts were all eliminated when the present castle was built. However, we do have a few ghosts just to keep everyone happy.

My wife and I have just completed a major renovation to the castle which took us two years. It's also very green as we produce all our heat with biofuel which is grown on the estate.

The relevance of monarchy in contemporary life: I think that monarchy is relevant as history and pageantry.

I feel there is an aspect of tradition related to monarchy that it would be sad to lose. We all need a bit of ‘fairy tale' in our lives.

The role of royalty on a global stage: I think royal representatives are ambassadors fortheir country, promoting welfare and working very hard in some field or another. I can speak for my country. Our queen works very hard, promoting charities around the world, Prince Andrew is associated with business, Prince Charles with the environment, and they all work incredibly hard in one field or another.

I promote Scotland and all that it is famous for. It is a great place for tourists.

Did you know? 

  • The Duke of Argyll is the hereditary Master of the Royal Household of Scotland and one of the Queen's representatives
  • The 13th Duke presides over a global family of around 3 million Campbells worldwide
  • The present Duke loves the energy of Dubai and has been here several times


  • The House of Argyll is one of the oldest and most powerful of Scotland's landed dynasties

By Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary
Twitter @Such_friday