The real inspiration for Bond?

05 Feb

As we have been Bonding – as it were – I thought I would pose a quiz question.

Although Errol embodied Bond is so many ways, Fleming, sadly, did not seem to make that connection. This was probably because he was too myopic and snobbish. In fact, he was a social mountaineer; the Edmund Hillary of social climbers.

So my question is, what is the name of the man Fleming most admired and wanted to be (and that includes physically)?

In public, Fleming often gave contradictory answers when asked upon whom he had modelled James Bond. In private, however, he frequently named my ‘mystery man’  (pictured below). I know this is true because Fleming used to stay with my father in Wiltshire, and the ‘mystery man’s’ late wife was my Godmother.

Coincidentally, he bore a striking resemblance to Errol, and the two actually met at a dinner party in Italy.

Mystery Man



Clue 1: My ‘mystery man’ wasn’t a member of the Intelligence Services, a Government official, a writer, an ornithologist, an actor or any of the people usually mentioned. Fleming first met him in 1951 and later attended his wedding (below). (Interestingly, his wife, according to one of Fleming’s letters, was ‘my ideal of what a girl should look like, and how she should act’, which qualifies her for the distaff side of all the Bond novels published after 1955.)

Clue 2: In ‘From Russia With Love’, Fleming pays tribute to my ‘mystery man’ and his wife. When Bond and Tatiana have to flee from SMERSH, they are given false names. The names Fleming chose were their names.

Clue 3: A well-known sport was named after the ‘mystery man’s’ house.

Clue 4: The man is still living and has been called ‘the handsomest …. in England.’

So, what is his name?

My ‘mystery man’ outside his family house, and at the horse trials


— PW


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  1. Gentleman Tim

    February 5, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    Dear Petronella,

    Please disabuse and dispel for us the sub rosa Rubirosa report as just a very big ruse!


    P.S. P.W. You woulda made a helluva a Bond/SIS Girl!

    • PW

      February 6, 2017 at 6:00 pm

      Porfirio Rubirosa was a laughable, South American fascist poodle, whose appearance was an unfortunate combination of the porcine and the simian. His approach to women was not that of a gallant Flynnian swordsman, but of a medieval siege machine. His boasts about the size of his penis were ridiculed by Truman Capote and others. Even Zsa Zsa Gabor turned down his proposal of marriage. 007? No, no, never! Not Fleming’s type at all. In fact , he would have regarded Rubirosa as ‘Not One Of Us.’

      • Gentleman Tim

        February 8, 2017 at 5:56 pm

        No need to mince words here, PW. You’re among Flynnmates.


        • PW

          February 8, 2017 at 7:04 pm

          Thanks for the green light. I shall never mince again!

          • Gentleman Tim

            February 8, 2017 at 7:53 pm

            Excellent, Petronella! We’ll all have to swashbuckle our proverbial seatbelts. La Lumiere Verte is yours. Please remember to drive on the right side … I mean correct side … of the street!


  2. Tina

    February 5, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Hi PW;
    Due to my profession I knew the answer instantly It is “Badminton House”. Badminton is a village and civil parish in Gloucestershire, England. And the gentleman in question is:
    David Robert Somerset, 11th Duke of Beaufort (born 23 February 1928), known as Mr David Somerset until 1984, is a British peer.
    His bride in the picture is:
    Lady Caroline Jane Thynne (m. 1950; d. 1995)


    I think you are right – a kind of resemblance to Errol but a definite James Bond type indeed!

    • PW

      February 6, 2017 at 10:26 am

      You are amazing Tina! If I may be so bold, what is your profession? Petronella

      • PW

        February 6, 2017 at 10:32 am

        I’m sure you will know this, too, but Caroline’s brother, the current Marquess of Bath has a touch or Errol. He had 13 “wifelets ” when I last saw him. Though I doubt he is able to do much these days.

        • Tina

          February 6, 2017 at 11:36 pm

          No I am not aware of him but I googled him – WOW what a guy!

      • Tina

        February 6, 2017 at 11:38 pm

        Thank you, very kind!
        I mostly know answers about Errol but this one was different
        My profession somewhat associated with Badminton.

    • twinarchers

      February 8, 2017 at 12:49 am

      That’s the name.