THE daughter-in-law of the womanising duke seen in BBC1’s A Very British Scandal has told how he used to joke that his fourth wife was also his DAUGHTER.
Lady Colin Campbell, who was married to the Duke of Argyll’s younger son, claimed the Scottish aristocrat “found it hilariously entertaining” to tease pals that his wife Mathilda could also have been his own child.
Lady Colin, known to millions as “Lady C” from the 2015 series of I’m A Celebrity, has lifted the lid on her “nasty piece of work” father-in-law — played by Paul Bettany in the festive blockbuster.
And she also names the person she says is the “headless man” cited in the Duke and Duchess’s infamous divorce case.
Lady Colin, 72, said: “The real British scandal was that he joked that one of his wives was his daughter.
“It was widely accepted he was having an affair with his wife’s mother around the time of her conception. It was a mark of the man.
"He may have been my father-in-law, but for me he was a gigolo who picked women up, married them then dropped them once he’d exhausted them of money.
‘He would fly into drunken rages’
“He was a bullying wife-beater who had such an impression on his second son, my husband Lord Colin Campbell, that it was no wonder our marriage was a non-starter.”
But author and royal expert Lady Colin, who became close friends with his third wife Margaret — played in the show by Claire Foy — has accused the BBC of a “laughable misrepresentation” of what she was really like.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun on Sunday, she said: “Margaret and I grew very close as we went through similar situations, her with Argyll and me with his son, and she was wonderful.
"She told me what really happened and it frankly sickened me.
“The BBC’s depiction of her is laughable. Margaret was a style icon, she was unflappable, had grace, elegance and an exquisite hairstyle that never moved.
“Instead they cast Claire Foy, whose hair swished around and walked like Joan Collins. It was all wrong.”
Today Lady Colin — who was friends with three of the Duke of Argyll’s wives — tells how he would fly into drunken rages with his spouses, was accused of stealing one wife’s tiara on their honeymoon and told Margaret the day before his wedding: “Once I get the ring on your finger, I’ll be in the driving seat.”
The Duke’s second marriage was to Louise Hollingsworth Morris Vanneck, the daughter of American artist Henry Clews.
They wed in 1935 and had two sons.
Ian proposed to Margaret in 1950 while still married to Louise, allegedly telling a friend: “Now I’ll get my bills paid.”
He divorced Louise a year later and promptly married Margaret.
The BBC’s depiction of her is laughable. Margaret was a style icon, she was unflappable, had grace, elegance and an exquisite hairstyle that never moved.
She later attempted to discredit the Duke’s sons with Louise — with a particular focus on his eldest son and heir Ian — by forging letters questioning their paternity.
But Ian caught her in the act when he found evidence of the forgeries behind a bookcase in Margaret’s London home.
A Very British Scandal — which drew a peak of seven million viewers during its three-night stint this week — depicted the show-stopping divorce trial between the Duke and third wife Margaret.
It centred around the infamous 1963 case in which Margaret, the duchess, was accused of sleeping with 88 different men during their relationship, including with a mystery “headless man” caught in a clinch with her in a Polaroid picture.
Despite allegations of violence, adultery and problematic drinking being made against the duke, he got the divorce he wanted and Margaret had to pay most of the £50,000 legal bill.
It was the biggest divorce case in history at the time.
Today Lady Colin also unmasks the “headless man” as American Pan Am boss Bill Lyons.
Lady Colin’s first encounter with the 11th Duke of Argyll’s family was when she became very close friends with his daughter Lady Jeanne Campbell, through whom she met her husband in 1974.
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Just five days after meeting, they married.
Lady Colin’s tumultuous marriage lasted 14 months, but her friendship with Jeanne remained and, during this time, she also grew close to Margaret, then one of the most famous women in the world.
The duchess began to tell Lady Colin the sordid truth about the Duke of Argyll — known to the family as “Big Ian”.
She said: “I thought Margaret was going to be a monster from all I’d read but when I met her for the first time in 1975 I was completely surprised.
“We bonded over the treatment we had at the hands of our husbands. She told me about the duke’s drinking and drug problems.
"He would spend days drinking at his private members’ club in London, Whites, then come home in a foul mood.
“She said it could be very difficult when he returned.
“He would often turn up drunk to dinner parties, and sometimes wouldn’t turn up at all.
"He was apparently invited to a dinner to celebrate the Queen’s Coronation and he just decided not to go.
“He also had a penchant for ‘purple heart’ amphetamine pills, which with alcohol were a terrible combination and could turn him into a monster.”
Viewers saw Paul Bettany’s character fly into fits of violent rage on the show and Margaret told Lady Colin that his anger issues only manifested once they married.
She said: “Margaret told me he was deeply charming and perfect for the first year but on the night before their wedding he got angry and told her, ‘Once I’ve got the ring on your finger, I’ll be in the driving seat’.
“She said he used to beat her up. On one occasion Margaret was trying to get permission to build a local cinema at Inveraray, where they lived, for the villagers and needed Big Ian to sign papers.
‘Stole wife’s tiara to pay gambling debts’
“When she chased him up after he’d failed to do so for a fortnight he flew into a rage and hit her badly.
"Margaret said that right at the end of the marriage he tried to get his doctor, the same one who would issue him his pills, to get her certified as insane.”
"Lady Colin, who has her own YouTube channel where she talks about the issues of the week, said the suggestion that Margaret had slept with 88 men during their 12-year marriage was “laughable” but admitted both she and the duke were unfaithful to each other.
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She said: “Bill Lyons was the man in the Polaroid picture or the ‘headless man’. He was an American from a wealthy family.
“He was sophisticated, debonair, dapper, well-bred, charming and handsome. He was sexy and great fun. He was reliable and astute.
“Margaret knew that the duke was only interested in money and knew her family had an estate worth hundreds of millions today.
“When her father turned off the tap of money for the duke and duchess, he moved for a divorce. She said it was painfully obvious.”
His first wife, Janet Gladys Aitken, told Lady Colin that the duke stole her tiara on their honeymoon.
She said: “When the tiara, which is such a valuable thing and special to a new bride, went missing, Janet suspected only him of taking it.
"And he admitted doing so to pay his gambling debts.”
After the duke’s divorce from Margaret he married his fourth wife Mathilda within weeks of the infamous trial.
Mathilda Coster Mortimer was 22 years his junior and around the time of her birth he was widely acknowledged to be having an affair with her mother Tilly.
Both the duke’s daughter Jeanne and Margaret told her that the duke would joke about the chance he was Mathilda’s father.
She said her father would joke that he was the father and husband of Mathilda
She said: “Jeannie would tell me that her father was ‘dark’, meaning a sociopath.
"She said her father would joke that he was the father and husband of Mathilda.
"He thought it was funny.
“Margaret would tell me about it too and said she would tell people and people wouldn’t believe her.
“I met Mathilda after Big Ian’s death and it was clear she knew nothing about it.
"She was a lovely woman and very kind to me.
"It was also known that Big Ian would refer to Mathilda as ‘The Bet’.
“This was another sickening reference to a bet he’d made with Mathilda’s mother before she was born that she couldn’t seduce one of their gay contemporaries.
“She did, on one and only one occasion, and he also used to joke that Mathilda could have been the product of that one-night stand and for ever called her The Bet — completely unbeknown to Mathilda herself.”
Lady Colin said of the BBC1 drama: “It was difficult watching for me because I’ve been party to what really went on and I was very fond of some of the principals.
“Having been in the family, it was also hard to see because I know what a huge impact the 1963 trial had on everyone.”
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