Lord Selkirk

On 28th November 2023,  The Right Honourable Lord Selkirk of Douglas (James Douglas Hamilton) died in hospital in Edinburgh after a short ilness.

Lord James, as he was known, was appointed Honorary Air Commodore (HAC) of No 2 Maritime Headquarters Unit taking over from his brother, Angus, Duke of Hamilton in 1995.  He retained the position of HAC on the reformation of No 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron by special approval of Her Majesty the late Queen who had been the the Squadron’s HAC since 1951, then as The Princess Elizabeth.  On the reformation of the Squadron, Her Majesty said that she was content for Lord James ‘to continue to act on her behalf’.

James Douglas Hamilton was the second son of Douglas, the 14th Duke of Hamilton, who himself had been the Commanding Officer of No 602 (City of Glasgow) Sqn in the run up to WW2 and a renowned aviator having been the first pilot to fly over Mount Everest in 1933.  James was educated at Eton and the universities of Oxford and Edinburgh and was called to the Scottish Bar as an Advocate in 1968.  He became a Member of Parliament for Edinburgh West in 1974 until 1997 and a Member of the Scottish Parliament from 1999 to 2005.  He also served as a life peer in the House of Lords from 1997 until a few months ago.  James married Susan Buchan, a granddaughter of the acclaimed novelist John Buchan in 1974.

James served for a period as a Territorial Army Captain in the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and had an avid interest in military history particularly anything with an air force connection.  He wrote a number of books including ‘Roof of the World – Man’s First Flight over Everest’ which recounted the  story of the extraordinary feat of 4 aviators from 602 Squadron . He also wrote about Rudolph Hess’s flight to Britain to meet his father, the then Duke of Hamilton, and also the ‘Air Battle for Malta’ which included diary information from his late Uncle Geordie who commanded 603 Squadron Spitfires operating from the USS Carrier Wasp positioned off Malta in 1942.

James will be remembered as a most supportive Honorary Air Commodore in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, a wise and highly thought of politician with a sense of humour and a true gentleman.  At the age of ten he served as a page at the Coronation of the late Queen, He said afterwards, “I was given a little medal but I really wanted a train set”.  James is succeeded by Lady Susie and their four sons.

Bob Kemp

Further details of Lord Selkirk’s life can be seen in his Daily Telegraph obituary.

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