Wealth, power, status and privilege
It must have been during the winter of 2004 when the retiring partners of KPMG who are still awaiting their gratuity and pension converged at the Lanes borough Hotel in Knightsbridge, London to celebrate several decades of genuine friendship, mutual respect, and confidence in each other’s integrity. At lunchtime, we proceeded to the hotel’s magnificent Apsleys restaurant. To quote one of the guests: “They know how to receive people. The welcome was delivered along with excellent pralines and champagne.”
A gentleman who was on his way to the table that had been specially reserved for him insisted on exchanging pleasantries with one of us – Martin Rutherford-Marsh, whose family had ties with the royal family and the landed gentry going back several generations.
Anyway, it turned out the gentleman was none other than the Duke of Westminster and the pillar of the Grosvenor family who were the owners of prime London properties in Knightsbridge; Belgravia; Kensington; and thousands of acres in the UK and overseas. It was Martin who whispered to us that the Duke was easily the richest man in the UK (second only to Her Majesty The Queen) with a fortune which was already approaching £10 billion. A quick check on Google now reveals that:
“The Duke was a country man at heart.
His ancestral home, Eaton Hall is set in 10,000 acres just outside Chester. He wished he had been allowed to become a beef farmer in Northern Ireland like his father. He struggled at times with the burden of his responsibilities and suffered from bouts of depression.”
Anyway, he was soon joined by his family who Martin promptly recognised as his wife. Lady Natalia Gosvenor and children – Lady Tamara; Lady Edwina; Lady Viola and a 13-year old son, Hugh. Sadly, the Duke died a few months ago, aged only 66 years.
According to Martin, whenever he met the Duke he would always ask after the KPMG partners together with words of encouragement:
“Life is an uphill struggle on occasions, but life without challenge is no life at all.” He was absolutely right.
According to 75-year-old retired nurse, Margaret Ford who was interviewed by BBC, she had lived close to the Duke’s vast estate all her life and knew him fairly well:
“He was terribly unassuming and humble. He was indeed a fine gentleman and a great man. He sent his children to local schools, and local kids were always invited to their birthday parties. They were very down to earth people. We shall miss him hugely.”
What is instructive about The Duke’s persona is that beneath his self-effacing posture was a firm and clear appreciation that wealth is a serious matter. He hired the best chartered accountants (Martin was one of them); the smartest solicitors and so on and so forth to protect his family’s wealth and by extension its power, status and privilege.
As confirmation that he had succeeded in this endeavour, Eleanor Steafel delivered an eye-witness account of the memorial service held at the magnificent Chester Cathedral on November 28, 2016.
The congregation was massive (almost 1,500) with the Royal Family publicly declaring solidarity with one of their own. The powerful message was conveyed by the presence of the Duke of Cambridge (Prince William) as well as the Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Eugenie and the Duke of Kent.
There is a poignant lesson for the J. K. Randle family who rather than hold on to their wealth like the Duke of Westminster preferred to part with it – much to the chagrin of their successors who are now compelled to deal with the harsh reality. In these climes, without wealth there is no power, status or privilege.
Fortunately, the law is on the side of the Randle family. So also are morality and justice. Why would philanthropy, compassion and generosity of spirit merit dispossession, impunity and contempt?
G.K. Chesterton scored a bull’s eye with his epigrammatic summation of the tactics adopted by government officials in their ruthless endeavour to confiscate private property.
“What a clever web we weave, when we set out to deceive.”
Malignant wickedness, perfidy and mendacity cannot defeat uprightness and steadfastness.
We refuse to accept that what William Shakespeare the English playwright lamented 400 years ago – wicked men plotting grave atrocities in dark rooms and crevices to plunder not only state funds but also raid private property and purses – for no other purpose than to fund their flamboyant life style. Embezzlement knows no bounds according to greatest playwright of all time. The J.K. Randle family got a raw deal from the government as punishment for not growing its wealth, power, status and privilege.
Our ancestors regarded philanthropy and public service as a calling and a duty to mankind. They demonstrated it by giving generously to society.
Here is the Lagos State Law No. 5 of 2011.
“A Law to provide for the preservation, protection and restoration of historical properties and cultural heritage sites in Lagos State and for connected purposes.”
The Lagos State House of Assembly enacts as follows:
“1- (1) As from the commencement of this Law, no property, site or monument location to which this Law applies as a listed site under grades I, II and III shall be altered, demolished or improved upon except as is necessary owing to normal wear and tear or minor repairs, without the prior issuance of listed site consent of the governor in accordance with the provisions of this Law.”
“(2) Any alteration to any listed site shall take into consideration the character and special interest of the site.”
However, the events we have been dealing with for several decades are so bizarre, almost a circus, all in an unrelenting effort to dispossess us of our land and thereby emasculate the Randle family. The crux of the matter revolves around breach of trust, negligence and looting in total disregard of personal responsibility and accountability. At every turn, the J.K. Randle family has been undermined. Why should government undertake a project which the Randle family, with all due modesty, is perfectly capable to execute? The situation calls for maturity, restraint and tact combined with experience, knowledge and courage – as a counterpoise to the aggressive pursuit by government officials of their own agenda at our expense. Rather than resort to lamenting over the abuse of power and the misuse of authority the J.K. Randle family must remain resolute and assiduous in guarding its integrity and reputation. The answer to it all is cool heads – but there is no room for fear or indifference.