Tape reveals Macmillan's agony over destroying wife's love letters
Monday 04 March 1996
The existence of a tape recording of Harold Macmillan and Bob Boothby discussing Boothby's affair with Macmillan's wife, Lady Dorothy, has been disclosed by a former Conservative MP.
The tape recording was made accidentally by Boothby's wife. In it, the former prime minister and her husband discuss Lady Dorothy Macmillan, who had a child by Boothby.
Macmillan, later awarded a peerage by Baroness Thatcher, describes in the recording how he destroyed Boothby's love letters to his wife after her death. Its existence was uncovered by Robert Rhodes James, the former MP for Cambridge and a distinguished writer, when he was researching for his biography of Boothby.
"I have heard the recording and it's rather an eerie thing. Macmillan describes how he destroyed Bob's letters to Dorothy," Mr Rhodes James says in a BBC 2 documentary on the Macmillans' marriage, which was torn by the affair.
"He had an outside incinerator and he didn't know how to work it. He piled all the letters in the incinerator and the wind got up. Suddenly, the letters were flying all round the garden, and he was chasing them," Mr Rhodes James said.
"One has this picture of this retired statesman rushing around and trying to capture and burn the letters of his wife's lover."
Macmillan's last words on the tape were "And so it all ended ..." Boothby then added: "And so it ended." Macmillan outlived Lady Dorothy, who was the daughter of the Duke of Devonshire, by 20 years.
The programme, which is part of a series called Reputations, argues that the former prime minister's personal unhappiness at being cuckolded by Boothby, to whom he gave a peerage when he was in office, greatly intensified his political ambitions.
It suggests he might never have risen to the leadership if the affair had not happened. The programme also portrays Macmillan as a scheming liar when he prevented Rab Butler from winning the Tory party leadership. The picture is at odds with his affable "never-had-it-so-good" image.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Feminist quotes to inspire you on the International Women's Day
Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
International Women's Day 2014: Mothers and daughters describe their hopes and dreams in touching photographs
Liam Neeson on death of wife Natasha Richardson: ‘When I hear the door opening, I still think I’m going to hear her’
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
- 3 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role to marry Natasha Richardson
- 5 Livr: A social network only for drunk people
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...