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The Accidental Duchess by The Duchess of Rutland


Emma Watkins was a Welsh farmer’s daughter, so she never in her wildest dreams imagined she would one day be a Duchess. When she met David Manners, she had no idea he was the heir to the Duchy of Rutland, but their initial spark graduated to a marriage proposal, and so began Emma’s new life.


To begin with, they set up a home in one of the houses on the estate, and Emma was soon busy raising a family. 2001 was the year when everything changed for the couple when Emma’s father-in-law died, and David became the next Duke of Rutland. With the demands of young children, they left the home they had created and moved into the draughty castle along with the massive responsibilities that entailed.


Belvoir sounds like a romantic place to live with its beauty and grandeur, but with 225 rooms, it was impractical and costly to run. It wasn’t long before the new Duke and Duchess needed to start making staff redundant and looking at other cost-saving measures. It would be a vast understatement to say it was a steep learning curve, especially when also dealing with young children and haughty staff. But Emma is not a quitter; these days, she is CEO of the estate with 90 staff. And she has come up with many innovative and practical ideas to make the estate function.


The Accidental Duchess is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at what it is like to run and live in one of these stately homes. It’s also filled with the history of the Duchesses who came before Emma and the many ups and downs of Emma’s life from a naïve young woman to the poised and charming Duchess she is today. A fabulous read!


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Pan McMillan

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