By Royal appointment

In her LRB review of Laura Thomson’s A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan, Rosemary Hill has an entertaining passage about two of Lord Lucan’s mates, Nicholas Luard and Dominick Elwes.

As the conventions of the 1950s loosened, hare-brained schemes were fashionable, though often doomed. The Establishment Club failed, taking Luard’s modest inheritance with it, and he and Elwes embarked on a succession of get-rich-quick enterprises. Their most entertaining failure was the retractable dog lead which Elwes patented. Since he and Luard were among the young men invited to dine (without wives) by Princess Margaret they thought she might be persuaded to use it when presenting prizes at Crufts to generate useful publicity. HRH agreed, but in front of curious photographers she put the spring-load on the wrong setting and all but strangled a chihuahua. Sales never recovered. Tellingly, the only Luard-Elwes venture to make money was their book, Refer to Drawer, a guide to confidence trickery.

That’s about par for the course for the rackety crowd of crooked or harebrained toffs who were Lucan’s playmates. In her review, Hill concludes that Lucan was not the murderer. I’m not convinced, and nor are some of the folks who have commented vigorously on the review.