IT was by far the longest lasting of his five marriages. And now easily the most expensive of his five divorces.
After an acrimonious, two-year legal battle, the 7th Marquess of Northampton has called a truce with his soon-to-be ex-wife. The divorce – prompted by Lady (Pamela) Northampton's affair with a Romanian multi-millionaire – will cost him in the region of £17m (€20m).
Lady Northampton, 61, will receive a £4m (€4.7m) apartment in Pimlico, London, as well as cash and possessions worth about £13m (€15m).
But the vast majority of Lord Northampton's fortune – put conservatively at £120m (€143m) and including two stately homes, tracts of land and even a controversial Roman treasure hoard – will remain intact.
The decision to settle will spare the couple the £2m (€2.4m) cost of a two-week divorce trial, which was due to start in the High Court tomorrow. Both are now bound by confidentiality clauses that prevent them speaking about the failure of their 20-year marriage.
Lord Northampton's solicitor, Simon Bruce of Farrer and Co, said yesterday: "We are pleased to confirm that the case has now been settled without the need for further court proceedings. Under the terms of the parties' agreements there will be no further comment."
A spokesman for Lady Northampton said: "She does not wish to make any comment at this time."
The divorce had been a messy one. At a pre-trial hearing in the summer, Lady Northampton's lover was named as Dr Dan Stoicescu, who is said to be even wealthier than her husband.
The couple also became embroiled in a separate privacy action, now ended, over secret recordings of Lady Northampton's phone conversations, discussing her private life with her 87-year-old father. Bizarrely, the recordings were made by her stepmother, a hairdresser from Staines in Middlesex, and passed on to Lord Northampton.
Their contents prompted Lord Northampton, 66, to throw his wife out of their 84-room country estate at Compton Wynyates, Warwickshire.
Lady Northampton had demanded about £25m (€29m) and Lord Northampton had offered £15m (€18m). It is believed, although unconfirmed, that she will in the end receive about £17m (€20m) – almost £1m (€1.2m) for every year of their marriage.
Lord Northampton, born Spencer Compton and known as "Spenny" to friends, is one of Britain's most colourful aristocrats, once dubbed the "Mystic Marquess" for his fascination with Freemasonry and spirituality.
He had already been wed four times in 23 years when he married Pamela Kyprios in 1990 at a register office in Stratford-upon-Avon, following her divorce from a wealthy Greek-American shipping financier.
While his family has aristocratic roots dating back 500 years, Lady Northampton, born Pamela Haworth, is from altogether more humble stock, having been born into a working-class family in Lancashire.
The pair were introduced by friends in the late Eighties and married shortly after. "She is the centre of my life," Lord Northampton said at the time, "She is a healer, very good at relaxing me." He has told friends that she was the love of his life and certainly none of his other marriages lasted anywhere near as long.