Lord Peel is a crossbench peer and has been Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household since 2006, meaning he organises all Court functions. He is also a great-great grandson of former Conservative prime minister Sir Robert Peel.
Educated at Ampleforth College near the family seat of Eelmire House, Ripon, North Yorkshire, he later studied at the University of Tours in France and the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester.
A committed conservationist, Lord Peel has held office in numerous societies, such as a member of the Prince’s Council (part of the Duchy of Cornwall) from 1993 to 2006, Lord Warden of the Stannaries from 1994 to 2006 and a member of the Nature Conservancy Council, with English Nature, from 1991 to 1996.
He is President of the Game Conservancy Trust and was President of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust from 1989 to 1996. He was also on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Committee for six years and became a Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire in 1998. He holds shares in, among other enterprises, Moonpig.com Plc.
Lord Peel first sat in the House of Lords by hereditary right in 1969 and was elected to remain in the House as one of 92 hereditary peers 30 years later. He sat on the EU Sub-Committee for Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment between 2003 and 2006. In June of the latter year it was announced he would succeed Lord Luce as Lord Chamberlain.
On 11 October 2006, he kissed hands with The Queen upon his appointment and was invested as a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO), becoming Chancellor of the Order. On 14 November 2006, he was sworn in as a Member of the Privy Council.
Lord Peel married Veronica Naomi Livingston Timpson on 28 March 1973. They had two children, Ashton Robert Gerard Peel, Viscount Clanfield and Lady Iona Joy Julia Peel. The marriage was dissolved in 1987. He married, secondly, The Honourable Charlotte Clementine Soames, daughter of Lord Soames and his wife Mary Churchill, daughter of Sir Winston Churchill, on 15 April 1989. They have one daughter, Lady Antonia Mary Catherine Peel.
The Peels, originally baronets, were raised to peerage in 1895 with the ascension of Arthur Wellesley Peel, 1st Viscount Peel. Viscount Peel was born in 1829 as the youngest son of Sir Robert and sat in the House of Commons as a Liberal from 1865, serving as Speaker from 1884. In 1885, although technically impartial, he left the Liberals to join Chamberlain’s Liberal Unionists over the issue of Irish Home Rule.
Viscount Peel died in 1912, the year the Liberal Unionists merged with the Conservatives to form the Conservative & Unionist party, and was succeeded by his eldest son William Wellesley Peel. The 2nd Viscount was a practicing barrister, having been called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1893, before taking the position of special correspondent for the Daily Telegraph during the Greco-Turkish War of 1897.
He was elected as Liberal Unionist MP for Manchester South at a by-election in 1900. At the 1906 general election, he stood unsuccessfully at Harrow, returning to the Commons as Conservative MP for Taunton at a by-election in 1909.
After serving briefly in the First World War, he became Under-Secretary of State for War and a member of the Privy Council in 1919. Two years later he became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for Transport, entering the Cabinet in 1922 as Secretary of State for India under David Lloyd George’s coalition.
After a brief spell in Opposition, Lord Peel served under Stanley Baldwin’s Conservative administration until it was dissolved following the 1929 election. He was raised to the 1st Earl Peel in 1930 and, when a Conservative-dominated National Government was formed in 1931, he became Lord Privy Seal – only to leave the government two months later.
In 1932 he was appointed chairman of the Wheat Commission, and in 1934 chaired the Royal Commission on the Common Law. In 1936-37 he was the chairman of the Peel Commission, which presented for the first time, the British Mandate of Palestine as the solution of partition for the Jewish-Arab conflict in Palestine.
He died in 1937 and was succeeded by his son, Arthur, 2nd Earl Peel. In 1948 the 2nd Earl was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire, a post he held until 1951.