14th Duke of Bedford (2002-2003)
Born 1940 Died 2003
Henry Robin Ian Russell, was the son of John Ian Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford and Clare Gwendolyn Bridgman, born on the 21st January 1940 at The Ritz Hotel in London. Known shortly after his birth as the Lord Howland, he was styled as the Marquess of Tavistock after 1953, when his father became the 13th Duke, but was known to family and friends as Robin.
Educated at Le Rosey School at Rolle in Switzerland and at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts he later followed a business career in the City. Following his father's retirement in 1974 he took over the management of Woburn Abbey, which his father had opened to the public, establishing the Woburn Golf Club, and became a minor celebrity after appearing in the BBC2's fly-on-the-wall documentary series Country House. Despite his responsibilities at Woburn he continued his business career serving as a director of Trafalgar House Ltd between 1977 and 1991, as well a director of United Racecourses between 1977 and 1994. He was also a keen horse racing enthusiast and established the Bloomsbury Stud in conjunction with his wife and son in 1966, and resurrected the old racing colours of the Duke of Bedford which hadn't been seen for a century; his greatest success being Royal Rebel who won the Ascot Gold Cup in 2001 and 2002.
It was widely believed that the pressure of work affected his health as he was found slumped at his desk one morning in 1988, having suffered a severe stroke. Only prompt surgery saved his life, but he was left suffering from aphasia. Although much of his memory and speech was later to return, its affects were never entirely eliminated and Robin founded the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia and helped fund the Tavistock Intensive Care Unit at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.
Robin Russell became the 14th Duke of Bedford with his father's death on the 25th October 2002, but within a few month he suffered a further stroke and was taken to the very Tavistock Intensive Care Unit that he had helped establish, where he died on the 13th June 2003 at the age of sixty-three. A family spokesman was reported as saying that "All his family and closest friends were with him and he passed away peacefully."
The 14th duke was married to Henrietta Joan Tiarks, daughter of Henry Frederic Tiarks on the 20th June 1961. Their eldest son Andrew Ian Russell succeeded his father as the 15th Duke of Bedford.
- Michael Paterson, Woburn Abbey's Duke of Bedford dies after stroke 14/06/2003
Tavistock Trust for Aphasia
- Woburn Golf Club