The Duke of Norfolk was the man who organized the extraordinary state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II yesterday. This Roman Catholic divorcee is also a former race driver and can track his roots as far as Edward I. Next year, he will have to organize King Charles III’s coronation.

Edward William Fitzalan-Howard, 65, became England’s most senior peer and the 18th duke following the death of his father Miles in 2002.

For more than 350 years, his ancestors have passed down the ancient office of Earl Marshal – meaning that they are responsible for overseeing funerals for members of the Royal Family, the coronations of kings and queens, and even state openings of parliament. 

As part of his duties, the duke – who shares a distant relative with the late Monarch in her namesake, Elizabeth I, and was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order for services to the monarchy in the honours announced for the Platinum Jubilee – also played a major role in the proclamation of the King at St James’s Palace, standing on the balcony overlooking Friary Court as the principal proclamation was read aloud in public by the garter king of arms.

But ‘Eddie’, as he is known to his friends, is also a major landowner reportedly worth more than £100million who ran a bottled gas company and a joinery business and now throws game shoots from his 1,000-year-old ancestral home, Arundel Castle in West Sussex – and was on such good terms with Elizabeth II that she regularly invited him to shoot in her beloved Scotland with her.

Surprisingly, this Oxford-educated Duke is also the highest ranking lay member of Rome’s Catholic Church in Britain. He was responsible for the Protestant event of Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey as well as her committal at Windsor Castle. 

After two decades of marriage, the peer — who is said to be a private man — has now separated from Georgina, his yoga-loving spouse.

The Duke of Norfolk Edward William Fitzalan-Howard in his role as Earl Marshal

The Duke of Norfolk Edward William Fitzalan-Howard in his role as Earl Marshal

The duke on the right of the image. The Queen signs the Proclamation of Accession of King Charles III, watched by the Prince of Wales, Prime Minister Liz Truss, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell and Lord Chancellor of the Privy Council Brandon Lewis during the Accession Council ceremony at St James's Palace

On the right is the duke. The Proclamation for Accession to King Charles III is signed by Queen Elizabeth. It was witnessed by Liz Truss (Prince of Wales), Archbishop Justin Welby (Archbishopof York Stephen Cottrell) and Brandon Lewis, Lord Chancellor of Privy Council, during the Accession Council ceremony held at St James’s Palace.

Edward Fitzalan-Howard, on the right, at the proclamation of King Charles III at St James's Palace

Edward Fitzalan-Howard is on the right at King Charles III’s Proclamation at St James’s Palace

Charles, then Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla with the Duke of Norfolk at the state opening of parliament in 2015

Charles, the Prince of Wales then and Camilla together with the Duke Of Norfolk during the 2015 state opening of Parliament

Charles, then Prince of Wales, with the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk at Arundel Castle in 2008

Charles, the Prince of Wales in 1968, with Duke and Duchess Norfolk at Arundel Castle, 2008.

Arundel Castle in West Sussex, the Duke of Norfolk's 1,000-year-old ancestral home

Arundel castle in West Sussex is the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk’s 1000-year-old ancestral residence.

Edward William Fitzalan-Howard and Georgina at the Festival of Speed at Goodwood, Surrey in 2003. They are now divorced

The couple married in 1987 and have five children, now aged between 24 and 33. They separated in 2011, much to the sadness of close friends and family, and the split was said to be so acrimonious that they missed the Royal Wedding of William and Kate to avoid being in the same room as each other

Georgina Fitzalan-Howard with Edward William Fitzalan–Howard at the Festival of Speed in Goodwood, Surrey, 2003. They were married in 1987. Their five children are now between 24-33 years old. The couple split in 2011 to the dismay of their close friends. The Mail reported that they have separated.

The Duke with his new partner, Chica Herbert

Chica Herbert, Chica’s new partner. 

They were married in 1987. Their five children are now between the ages of 24 and 33. The couple split in 2011 to the dismay of their close friends.

In 2016, they had been back together just before Henry’s wedding, which was the occasion for their 19th Dukeship of Norfolk.

It was reported that the late Queen had been delighted with this reconciliation. Meanwhile, The Catholic Herald featured an article praiseing their decision not to separate.

But last year the Duke said the reunion had been short-lived and he was now in a new relationship with Francesca Herbert, mother of socialite Frankie Herbert and ex-wife of Harry Herbert whose father, the 7th Earl of Carnavon, was the Queen’s closest confidant.

The couple stated at that time they did not intend to divorce. In fact, in April 2018, the Duke claimed their future was “uncertain”.

The duke revealed last month that the divorce papers had been signed June by the Duke, which was quite telling The Mail on Sunday: ‘By God we tried. We tried every option for the good of our family and Catholicism. We had to accept that it was impossible. One year ago, the last divorce was initiated. Now it is finally over. Although it’s very sad, we must move forward for the good of our children. We can’t continue to put them through this.

The duke with his ex-wife the duchess in London in 2016

London 2016: A duke and his ex-wife, the duchess

Arundel Castle was built at the end of the 11th Century. It is now the home of The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk

Arundel Castle was constructed at the beginning of the 11th Century. Today, it is the residence of the Duke and Duchess Of Norfolk.

The funeral procession carrying The Queen's coffin from Westminster Abbey down The Mall to Wellington Arch

The Funeral procession carried The Queen’s coffin, from Westminster Abbey up The Mall to Wellington Arch 

The Ceremonial Procession of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II travels down the Long Walk as it arrives at Windsor Castle for the Committal Service at St George's Chapel

The Ceremonial Procession of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II travels down the Long Walk as it arrives at Windsor Castle for the Committal Service at St George’s Chapel

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II with the Imperial State Crown resting on top lies in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle

In St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle lies Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin with the Imperial State crown resting on it.

Georgina, 60 years old, kept their Angmering Park House, and 100 acres of land. These are a few of the 16,000. acres that the Duke of South Downs owns.

Peppering Farm is less than 2 miles from his home. This property was once owned and decorated during the trial separations of the duchess.

Although his title implies he rules over Norwich, Arundel Castle is in West Sussex where the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk can be found.

It isn’t unusual for British dukes to live so close to the source of their titles. Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is where the Dukes are based. Similar to the Dukes of Westminster, Eaton Hall is Cheshire’s traditional seat for many centuries.

History is often the reason why absenteeism occurs among dukes. Many of the dukes owned their properties and their land long before taking on their titles. In fact, dukesdoms were given to those who were wealthy enough to have lots of land. They tended to stay in the homes they already owned.

Arundel Castle was gifted to the ancestors the current Duke of Norfolk in 11th century, although the title was established many centuries later.

Many traditional seats have been sold and lost due to the death of their owners. One example is the Duke of Manchester who lives in Las Vegas. He has found his ducal seat at times to be the High Desert Nevada State Prison, which is far from his 17th Century Kimbolton Castle. It also serves as a school.

The Mail also heard from the Duke of Norfolk on Sunday that there was no sharing since divorce. It is my castle now. I use it for weekends and with family. She has a limited area of influence, Angmering House.

“The financial settlement was reached long ago. However, we have reconciled and now the plan is in place. We failed to achieve it, and that’s what makes the biggest difficulty. This is the most heartbreaking thing. It wasn’t just one thing that broke our hearts – over eighteen years we have tried everything.

“We gave it our all, we are confident that it was a good effort. It was completely amicable but very sad.