Duchess of Rutland speaks about her split from the Duke of Rutland

Duchess of Rutland says she’s ‘best of friends’ with her estranged husband nine years after his affair with another woman who lived on the The Crown’s Belvoir Castle estate (where BOTH spouses still live)

  • Emma Manners married David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, in June 1992
  • The couple’s marriage broke down in 2012 after the Duke embarked on an affair 
  • But the Duchess of Rutland, 57, insisted they are still the ‘very best of friends’ 
  • The couple continued to live on the estate for the sake of their five children 

The Duchess of Rutland has opened up about her relationship with her estranged husband the Duke of Rutland, insisting the pair are still the ‘very best of friends’ nine years after their marriage broke down. 

Mother-of-five Emma Manners, 57, married David Manners, 61, the 11th Duke of Rutland, in June 1992 after meeting at a dinner party in 1990.

The couple’s marriage broke down in 2012 after the Duke embarked on an affair with a woman who lived on his 15,000-acre estate, Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire, which is known for featuring in Netflix’s The Crown.

Emma, chief executive of the estate, and David, who are still officially married, both continued to live at the 200-year-old stately home in separate towers. At one point they were both living there with their respective lovers. 

Speaking to guest Lady Emma Ingilby of Ripley Castle, in North Yorkshire, on her podcast Duchess today, the Duchess of Rutland said she was sad she and the Duke hadn’t ‘made their journey together’.  

Mother-of-five Emma Manners, 57, married David Manners (pictured together in May 2004), 61, the 11th Duke of Rutland, in June 1992 after meeting at a dinner party in 1990. The couple continued living on the estate, which features in The Crown, after their marriage broke down

The Duke and Duchess share five children, including their daughters Lady Alice, Lady Eliza and Lady Violet Manners (pictured with their mother in September 2018)

Emma said: ‘I am actually officially still married and the duke and I are legally separated, but it of course, always brings that little bit within one that we didn’t just make that journey together.

‘But we are the very best of friends and lucky enough for me, he’s put me in charge of carrying on the mantle, together we run the estate and he’s entrusted me with the job.’

Emma is now in a relationship with her estate manager, Phil Burtt, while David is happily ensconced with Tiggy Maconochie, former agent to the late fashion photographer Helmut Newton, according to the Daily Mail’s Richard Eden.

The duke split from his Brazilian-born lover, Andrea Webb, whom he had had the affair with, two years ago.

Discussing the breakdown of her marriage for the Daily Mail in 2013, Emma said making sure the family stayed together – living in the same place and even sharing meals – hadn’t been easy.

She wrote: ‘When I married David, Marquis of Granby and heir to one of Britain’s most distinguished stately homes, I expected life to be full of challenges. But this, by far, has been my hardest yet.

The marriage broke down when the Duke of Rutland had an affair with Andrea Webb (pictured in 2017). The pair lived on the estate with the Duchess of Rutland 

‘When a relationship collapses there is often fault on both sides. Mine was definitely devoting too much time to the business and the children and not enough to my husband. I suppose both gave me focus and a sense of achievement that was lacking in our marriage.’

The duchess and duke share five children: Lady Violet, 27, who is helping to produce the podcast, and her siblings Alice, 25, Eliza, 23, Charles, 21, and Hugo, 17. 

In today’s episode of her podcast, Emma also discussed the impact of the pandemic on local businesses on her estate.

Belvoir Castle boasts a retail village, restored from old estate buildings, which is now a centre for local food, drink and artisan shopping – but ‘so many are struggling’, explained Emma, who said she had been offering ‘rent free periods’.

She said: ‘One of the things that is terrifying about this current situation, of course, is that so many of them are now struggling because it’s been so difficult, so we are giving rent free periods and it’s been really difficult. 

 Emma, chief executive of the estate, and David, who are still officially married, both live in the 200-year-old stately home (pictured) in separate towers, and each have found new lovers

Belvoir Castle has served as a filming location for Netflix’s The Crown. Pictured, the cast in a room of Belvoir Castle filming the third series of the hit Netflix series

‘… Because I don’t know about you but I’ve had to borrow quite a lot of money to get it where it’s come to and I’ve got to pay the bank back.’

However, she later added: ‘This job that we do isn’t about money, it isn’t about taking money from it. It’s about the service and what we can do to support it in the journey of its extended life.’ 

Last week, Emma opened up about the difficulties she faced when first moving into her stately home and joining high society after growing up on a farm where the ‘pennies were all collected very carefully’.

While Emma, who grew up on a farm near Cardiff, now fondly calls the estate home, she admitted on the debut episode of her new podcast that it hasn’t always felt like that. 

The duchess confessed that she was often left ‘sobbing’ within her first month at Belvoir.

She credited her feelings of loneliness to bullying butlers, judgemental dinner party guests and not knowing etiquette, as well as having a dislike for titles and being in the public eye.

Belvoir Castle has formed the backdrop for scenes in Young Victoria in 2007, The Da Vinci Code and The Crown – where Matt Smith and Claire Foy filmed in one of the opulent rooms, which stood in for Windsor Castle.  

The 356 room castle is themed around classic opulence dating back to the 1700s when it was first restored, with the bedrooms boasting four poster beds, rich tapestries, fur rugs and fireplaces.

Sparing no expense, the drawing room offers silk wallpaper, luxurious furnishings and artwork dating back centuries. 

And the opulent interiors don’t stop there, with bathrooms featuring marble tops, dressing tables, intricate wallpaper and the modern touch of his and hers sinks. 

Dinner parties are fit for a king, taking place at tables stretching across a whole hall, surrounded by fireplaces, candelabras and giant portraits of ancestors.

A grand library, complete with oriental carpets and chandeliers is described in one previous social media post by Emma as her ‘favourite afternoon spot’. 

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