Prince Charles and Dumfries House
May 31 2012
Briefly, in 2004 the Marquess of Bute decided he would sell the mansion and its contents, which included innumerable pieces of furniture made by Thomas Chippendale for the house. After much fundraising, a consortium led by the Prince bought the whole estate for £45m at the last minute. The fleet of trucks carrying everything from the pictures to the doorstops for auction at Christie's, with the catalogues already printed and mailed out, was turned back on the motorway at 1am. It was that close.
Now, the house has been restored and is open to visitors. The majority of the cash borrowed to buy the estate has been raised. In short, all is well, and Prince Charles has done a very Good Thing. You wouldn't think that, of course, if you read the Daily Mail, which called the venture a "£20m banana skin... a colossal error — one fuelled by vanity and hubris... a disastrous deal [and one which has left the Prince with] egg all over his face".
Some egg, some face.