Duke of Atholl dies aged 64

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The Independent Online

The Duke of Atholl, one of Scotland's richest landowners and head of the only private army in Britain, died yesterday. The duke, who was 64, had been in hospital in Perth since Christmas when he suffered a severe stroke.

George Iain Murray - the duke's family name - inherited the title, one of Scotland's grandest, in 1957. The honour now passes to John Murray, his third cousin who lives in South Africa. From today he can raise the duke's traditional private army, the Atholl Highlanders.

Queen Victoria created the 100-strong battalion, the last of its kind in Europe, in 1844. The troops are largely recruited from the staff of the Atholl estate and they parade at the duke's ancestral home, Blair Castle, at Blair Atholl, in Tayside, every year.

Mr Murray, a land-surveyor, will not, however, inherit the 70,000-acre estate, which includes the 13th-century castle. Last year the duke disinherited him when he bestowed it on a charitable trust to "preserve it for the people". He made the move, sources say, because he feared Mr Murray planned to commercialise the estate. Two years ago the duke complained: "He came to see Blair and saw it, I think, as a commercial concern, not a home."

The 10th duke was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. He was chairman of the Westminster Press newspaper group for 19 years.

Later he was president of the Scottish Landowners' Federation, head of the National Trust for Scotland, chairman of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and captain of the House of Lords bridge team.

Last year he was named the 196th richest person in the United Kingdom with a pounds 60m fortune. He never married.

Obituary, page 14