Lady Carnarvon, 8th Countess of Carnarvon is no ordinary peer. Born Fiona Aitken, she has already had a colorful career encompassing a number of positions and professions. She is married to George Herbert, 8th Earl of Carnarvon; thus making her the 8th Countess.
A former auditor at Coopers & Lybrand, Lady Carnarvon is perfectly suited to running affairs at Highclere Castle, where she and her husband reside. Lady Carnarvon also runs her own fashion label, Azur, which operated in the States from 1995 to 2004. Her guardianship of the estate extends to its grounds and gardens, events and the Egyptian Exhibition – around which she and her husband regularly take visitors.
Lady Carnarvon has also written two books on the most famous character in her lineage – the 5th Earl of Carnarvon who discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb with Howard Carter in 1922. The first book, Carnarvon & Carter, examines the illustrious duo, their early work together and the extraordinary tale of their relationship and search for the hallowed tomb.
The second, Egypt at Highclere: The Discovery of Tutankhamun, details the discovery itself and is an accompaniment to the Egyptian Exhibition at Highclere. Quotes, original photographs and her written account using the Highclere archives offers a valuable insight into the discovery, and a beginners’ guide to ancient Egyptian culture, art and religion.
Lord Julian Fellowes is the writer and creator of Downton Abbey, the award-winning television drama series from 2010 to 2015 and upcoming movie set to be released in 2019. He was moved by the remarkable life of a woman who inspired Downton Abbey’s Cora Crawley. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, written by Lady Carnarvon, tells the story behind the real-life inspiration and setting for Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.
Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current chatelaine of Highclere Castle, Lady Carnarvon, has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war.
Much like her dramatic counterpart Cora Crawley, Lady Almina was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon’s ancestral home. Unlike Cora, however, Lady Almina was half-French, Jewish, and illegitimate. She would spend the whole of her life devoted to her husband, their home, and her country. Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman. This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.