The funeral of Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, brought to mind Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess,” in the sense that duchesses aren’t what they used to be, but here was perhaps the last one who lived up to the image. She was ninety-four. The service took place at Chatsworth, the historic house in Derbyshire built for the Dukes of Devonshire to the design of Capability Brown. Next day, The Times carried photographs of the mourners in a procession led by Prince Charles and his wife, a much less duchessy duchess, both of them in deepest black. Some of these two hundred mourners had been given first-class train tickets from London. Six hundred members of the staff also attended, “dressed in traditional attire,” whatever that might be.

 

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