David Starkey: The night I found my al­co­holic part­ner dead on the sofa

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News -

TV HIS­TO­RIAN David Starkey to­day re­veals the heart­break of the night he found his part­ner dead at their home.

In a mov­ing in­ter­view with Event mag­a­zine, Starkey says the un­timely death in 2015 of pub­lisher James Brown, his com­pan­ion for 20 years, was ‘a pro­found rup­ture, some­thing hor­ri­ble and dreadful’.

Starkey, 73, says: ‘I knew he’d be­come an al­co­holic but I had no idea how far it had gone. That evening I found James dead, sit­ting on the sofa.

‘He looked as though he’d just gone to sleep in the snug, which was our favourite lit­tle sit­ting room. I didn’t go in that room for an­other week.’

He took com­fort from the cer­e­mony of the fu­neral at Rochester Cathe­dral, where James, 43, was once a choir­boy, and says: ‘One thing I sup­pose, as a his­to­rian, you should be used to is the idea of death. You spend the whole of your time com­muning with death.’

The fa­mously acidic com­men­ta­tor hits his stride when asked about the Monar­chy’s role with Brexit, say­ing: ‘It has played no part at all in the whole busi­ness.’

He adds: ‘At the time of Mu­nich [1938], Ge­orge VI and Queen El­iz­a­beth re­ceived Cham­ber­lain on the bal­cony of Buck­ing­ham Palace, they put the weight of the Monar­chy be­hind peace.’

Asked if the Queen could re­ally do any­thing about Brexit, he replies: ‘That’s what ev­ery­body now says, but that’s the re­sult of 60 years of El­iz­a­beth II, which have very much di­min­ished the Monar­chy.

‘What is there un­der the flum­mery? That’s the fright­en­ing ques­tion Charles will be ask­ing.’

Starkey’s cur­rent project is an ex­hi­bi­tion of Tu­dor art at Hever Cas­tle in Kent.

TRAGIC LOSS: David Starkey cel­e­brates re­ceiv­ing the CBE with James Brown in 2007

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