Duchess of Buccleuch dies aged 68 after 'short illness'

Duchess of Buccleuch dies aged 68 after ‘short illness’ following operation, her family reveal – just days before her husband was due to attend King Charles’ coronation

  • Elizabeth Scott died following an operation, her family announced on Monday 
  • Read more: Full list of events, itinerary and timings for the King’s coronation 

The Duchess of Buccleuch has died aged 68 ‘after a short illness’ following an operation, a statement on behalf of her family has said.

Born Lady Elizabeth Kerr in 1954, she married Richard Scott in 1981 and they went on to have four children. 

While the Duke had been planning to attend this weekend’s coronation, it is understood he is now unlikely to attend. He has previously served as steward of Westminster Abbey. 

The family owns four estates in central Scotland, the Scottish Borders – where they serve as the Duke and Duchess of Queensberry – and rural Northamptonshire.

A private funeral service will be held in the Scottish Borders, with a service to celebrate her life to be announced at a later date. 

The tenth Duchess of Buccleuch has died aged 68 ‘after a short illness’ following an operation, her family said 

Born Lady Elizabeth Kerr, she married Richard Scott in 1981 and they went on to have four children

Benny Higgins, the executive chairman of Buccleuch – which manages the business interests of the family, said: ‘The Duke of Buccleuch and his family have announced that, very sadly, on Sunday morning the duchess died after a short illness following an operation.

‘The duchess was the most wonderful, life-enhancing spirit and our hearts go out to the family as they come to terms with their loss.’

The duchess was educated at London School of Economics, gaining a bachelor’s degree in sociology, before going on to work on BBC Radio 4’s Kaleidoscope programme and then moving to BBC Radio Solway after marrying the Duke.

The Duke of Buccleuch (left) and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II attend the Queen’s Body Guard for Scotland (also known as the Royal Company of Archers) Reddendo Parade in 2022

Her primary interest, however, was in the arts. The duchess founded the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, a leading literary award, for which she served as a judge.

She subsequently established the Young Walter Scott Prize for aspiring writers.

The duchess was also involved in a number of other arts organisations, serving as the chairwoman of Scottish Ballet and the Heritage Education Trust as well as a trustee of the National Museums of Scotland and the British Museum.

The Duchess was also a patron of the Royal Caledonian Ball.  

She is survived by her husband, four children and 11 grandchildren.

The Walter Scott Prize 

The literary prize, which was founded in 2009 by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and the director of the Borders Book Festival, Alistair Moffat, honours the achievements of Sir Walter Scott. 

The prize focuses on historical fiction and is awarded annually at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland. The winner receives £25,000 and the shortlisted authors each receive £1,500. 

Hilary Mantel, the first winner of the prize in 2010, said the prize would, ‘ push writers on to explore the limits of technique and the limits of their influence, and will open up for readers, I hope, the treasures of the genre’.

The rules were changed in 2012 to include books written and published in the Commonwealth as well as the UK and Ireland and a junior version was launched in 2015. 

Other winners include: 

  • Robert Harris, An Officer And A Spy
  • John Spurling, The Ten Thousand Things 
  • James Robertson, News Of The Dead 
  • Sebastian Barry, Days Without End
  • Christine Dwyer Hickey, The Narrow Land 

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