Duchess of Buccleuch dies ‘after short illness’ following operation, family says

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 in 1954, Lady Elizabeth Kerr married the current Duke of Buccleuch, Richard Scott, in 1981, going on to have four children.

The duke was to go to the coronation on Saturday but is now understood to be unlikely to attend.

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

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.

Her primary interest, however, was in the arts, with the duchess founding 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.

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

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