Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Disappearance of Lord Lucan

The Seventh Earl

Lord Lucan as a child (The Countess of Lucan)
Lord Lucan as a child
(The Countess of Lucan)
Richard John Bingham was born on December 18, 1934, to George Bingham, the Sixth Earl of Lucan and Countess Kait Lucan. Richard John Bingham, referred to as John, was the second of four children, including a younger brother and two older sisters. The Lucan children spent most of their youth in the company of maids and nannies. During World War II, they were separated from their parents and initially sent with many other children to the safety of the countryside. Eventually, England was not considered safe enough and the Lucan children were sent to America. While in the United States, the children stayed in luxurious mansions in Florida and New York. War did not prevent them from living the life of royalty. The Lucan children were sent home to England following the war.

While in England, John attended Eton, where he developed an interest in gambling and racing speed boats. The towering young man, who stood 6 feet 4, was handsome and aristocratic looking. In 1953, he joined the National Service as an officer in the Coldsteam Guards. Following his stint in the army, he joined a merchant bank. However, Johns passion for gambling exceeded his interests in business or anything else. He spent a great deal of his free time at the casino tables at the Claremont Club in Berkley Square. In 1960, after winning more than 26,000 in two days, John decided to devote himself full time to gambling. His closest friends referred to him from then on as Lucky. Soon after his big win, he left the bank.

Lord and Lady Lucan in the early years of their marriage (AP/Wide World)
Lord and Lady Lucan in the
early years of their marriage
(AP/Wide World)
In March 1963, John met Veronica Duncan at a golf tournament. She came from a middle-class background and was attractive and intelligent. They were married the following November. The newly married couple moved to a posh house on Lower Belgrave Street in the wealthy section of London, less than a mile from Buckingham Palace. Coincidentally, Veronicas sister was married to Johns millionaire friend, Bill Shand Kydd.

Two months following the wedding, Johns father, the Sixth Earl of Lucan died. John inherited the title of the Seventh Earl of Lucan, as well as a large sum of money. His wife Veronica was titled the Countess of Lucan. The new titles came with privileges, although the Lucan family was often associated with scandal, created by an earlier generation.

Portrait of the Third Earl of Lucan
Portrait of the Third Earl of
Lord Lucans great, great grandfather, the Third Earl of Lucan, earned a bad reputation 120 years earlier in the Crimea. His infamy stemmed from ordering the ill-fated maneuver known as the Charge of the Light Brigade, which resulted in the deaths of more than 600 men at Balaclava.

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