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Obituary: Robin David Leslie, of Hebden
8:00am Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
A Hebden man, who was a royal protection officer at Buckingham Palace, has died.
Robin David Leslie moved to live in the Dales with his wife, Elizabeth, in 1986 and embraced village life.
Both were members of Grassington Friendship Club, where Robin was guest speaker on a number of occasions, and arranged the annual fundraising cream teas. They also helped with fundraising events for Hebden Institute, the Methodist Church and St Peter’s, where they arranged an illuminated path to the church porch for the midnight service at the turn of the millennium.
Born in Warmington in 1931 to an English mother (the former Joan Harper) and a Russian immigrant father (Nikolai Vasilievich Dmitrevsky), he was the eldest of three brothers.
His father’s life is well documented in the book, A Russian Foreigner, Odessa To Oundle, written by Robin’s brother, Roger.
Nikolai was a member of a noble land-owning family and served as a page during the triencentennial celebrations in 1913 of the Romanov dynasty. He had many harrowing experiences during the revolution of 1917, eventually escaping in a ship bound for South America.
He left the ship when it docked in Corsica and eventually reached England. Many of his relatives disappeared and his sister, Marguerita, was shot by a firing squad.
He married in 1927 and became a naturalised British citizen, changing the family name to Leslie.
Robin enjoyed a sheltered upbringing going to a preparatory school and then Oundle School and, like his father, became fluent in French and German. He became head boy.
He did his National Service in Egypt and trained as an occupational therapist, teaching craft work to handicapped Egyptians.
Completing his National Service, he joined the police, pounding the beat in London.
He then became a royal protection officer at Buckingham Palace, escorting the family to various events, going to Balmoral and taking the Queen Mother to Glamis Castle and Princess Anne to Benenden School.
After many years in the police, Robin saw an advert for a butler at Althorp, with the late Earl Spencer and his second wife, Raine.
He applied and got the job. Elizabeth’s father also worked there as a butler and trained him. Also in residence were Lady Diana Spencer and her siblings and Raine’s mother, the novelist Barbara Cartland.
Robin’s next move was to become a butler for the High Court Judges Circuit, moving from place to place with an entourage.
It was in Leeds that he met Elizabeth, who also worked for the circuit, and they married in Norwich in 1983.
They then moved to work on the Gower Peninsula before stints at Nostell Priory near Wakefield, Bute House, Edinburgh Castle and Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh and Bolton Hall at Bolton Abbey, looking after guests including Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.