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the longer read

Succession, spying and selling up: is this the end of the Barclay brothers’ empire?

With a debt that could run into hundreds of millions, the family company in receivership and the likely forced sale of their Telegraph newspapers, Chris Blackhurst charts the extraordinary unravelling of the Barclay brothers’ world

Friday 09 June 2023 13:06 BST
Sir Frederick Barclay, right, and twin brother Sir David after receiving their knighthoods in 2000
Sir Frederick Barclay, right, and twin brother Sir David after receiving their knighthoods in 2000 (Michael Stephens/PA)

Occasionally in London in the 1980s and 1990s, it was possible to catch a glimpse of the Barclay twins, David and Frederick. They would be sitting at a discreet, rear corner table in one of the luxury hotels they owned – the modern Howard near Temple, or latterly the Ritz.

They wore matching pinstripe suits to go with their identical looks. They were born 10 minutes apart, first Frederick, then David in 1934. The only way to tell who was who was the side they parted their hair – Frederick was left handed with a right-hand parting, David right handed with a left-hand parting. If they were not spotted in one of their hotels, they could frequently be seen having a morning coffee on Avenue de Grande Bretagne in Monaco where they shared a residence. Again, they would be tucked away at the back of the cafe.

They were seemingly inseparable. Married with families of their own, but a firm double-act. They both had a passion for ballroom dancing, but rarely were they photographed. An exception was when they were knighted in a “double-dubbing” in 2000 for their support of medical research.

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