Hello! magazine devoted an astonishing 19 pages and its cover to the 70th birthday party of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, justified as this fancy-dress celebration was one of the most notable of the year’s social events. It took six months to plan and involved 80 tables laid with 1500 sets of cutlery, 800 napkins and 75 tablecloths, as observant reporter Sarah Cartledge counted. The buffet took 16 chefs to prepare and 75 waiters to serve. Guests were chauffeured from party to party in ten minibuses. His Lordship’s son Jonathon’s 21st birthday party was celebrated at the same time, and over 1000 guests were present. Prince Edward was there with Sophie Rhys-Jones and guests from the motoring world included Prince Michael of Kent, Damon Hill’s mother and sister, Donald Campbell’s daughter John Surtees, Sammy Millar, Nick Mason (listed as taking part in the Mille Miglia race), James Lindsay and Lord Strathcarron.
It went on until 4am, but at midnight came a roll of drums and a flash of smoke, out of which Lord Montagu emerged in the Museum’s 1909 40/50hp Rolls-Royce, smoking a cigar and wearing a costurne made by Bournemouth’s College of Art waving to all his guests, who responded with Happy Birthday. W B