Shelter, the homeless charity, has confirmed it is to receive the proceeds from the will of Veronica, the Dowager Countess of Lucan, who was found dead at her home in the exclusive London district of Belgravia last September after earlier being reported missing. She was 80.
An inquest held in London into the death of the aristocrat ruled she had taken her own life after falsely self-diagnosizing herself with Parkinson's disease. It was later revealed she had left everything to the charity, leaving her three estranged children Frances, Camilla and George, now the eighth Earl of Lucan, nothing having severed relations with them in the 1980s.
A spokeswoman for the housing charity confirmed the proceeds from Lucan's estate had been donated to it, although the figure involved has not been divulged. Estimates range between a six and seven-figure sum of money. Several prized possessions including a large oil painting of her husband and a personalised top hat will be sold at auction next month.
"At a time when over 300,000 people in Britain are without a home, we are incredibly grateful for the support we receive. The proceeds from Lady Lucan's estate will help Shelter to continue fighting bad housing and homelessness," said the spokeswoman.
One of Lady Lucan's daughters, Camilla Bingham, a QC, confirmed the decision, saying "Mummy left her estate to the homeless charity Shelter."
A statement released at the time of her death, her children and sisters said they remembered her "lovingly and with admiration" despite the breakdown in the family relationship.
It said: "She had a sharp mind, and when she spoke it, she did so eloquently. She was courageous and, at times, outrageous, with a mischievous sense of humor. She was, in her day, beautiful and throughout her life fragile and vulnerable, struggling as she did with mental infirmity. To us she was and is unforgettable."
Her decision won much praise on social media with many welcoming the gesture as growing numbers of people now find themselves struggling to keep or maintain a roof over their heads.
With worst housing crisis for a generation this generous gift is timely: Lady Lucan leaves entire fortune to housing charity Shelter having cut her children out of her will. https://t.co/umVAF6iJv4
— Paul Hackett (@PaulHackett10) 15 January 2018
Lady Lucan's revenge from beyond the grave: Wife of infamous missing nanny murderer leaves her multi-million pound fortune to a homeless charity after cutting her three children out of her will 👸🏼 https://t.co/8E9NGnNmQL
— Royally_Petite (@RoyallyPetite) 14 January 2018
The dowager countess had, in fact, been the only known witness to events in 1974 that led to the murder of her children's nanny, Sandra Rivett, 29, at the family home in upmarket Belgravia, central London.
She maintained the nanny had been bludgeoned to death by her estranged husband, John Bingham, the seventh Earl of Lucan, whom he had allegedly mistaken for his wife. The aristocrat suffered serious injuries before managing to escape to raise the alarm at a nearby pub.
He fled the murder scene and a borrowed car was later found abandoned at the cross-Channel port of Newhaven, East Sussex, with blood stains inside as well as a section of bandaged lead piping in the luggage compartment.A year after the incident an inquest jury declared the wealthy peer had killed Rivett.
The earl was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999 despite repeated sightings of him in Australia, Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand. As British newspapers sent reporters around the world following alleged tip-offs as to his whereabouts, there were even claims he had fled to India where he lived as a hippy called "Jungly Barry".
Before her death Lady Lucan gave a rare television interview in which she claimed her husband had jumped off a cross-Channel ferry whose propellers cut up his body to avoid him ever being detected.