Novelist Sebastian Faulks writing in his “Diary” column in this week’s Spectator comments on the knighthood recently awarded historian Antony Beevor. Sir Antony, as he will now be addressed, is best known in this parish for his book Crete: The Battle and the Resistance in which he characterized actions of Evelyn Waugh and some fellow officers in the 1941 battle as contrary to orders. His conclusions were rebutted by Donat Gallagher in his study In the Picture and, more recently, in the biography by Philip Eade. Faulks offers the following comment on a side effect of the knighthood:
Antony tells me that Artemis Cooper, his wife and his equal in writing talent and affability, will be sticking to her own name. This is a pity, because nothing would combine Evelyn Waugh and Beatrix Potter quite like ‘Lady Beevor’. Perhaps she’d consider allowing a select few to call her that.
Artemis Cooper is the grand daughter of Diana Cooper. Although her father is Lord Norwich (second Viscount), she apparently doesn’t have (or doesn’t use) the courtesy title The Hon. (or would it be Lady Artemis?). If she did, would that not take precedence over Lady Beevor (or would it be The Hon. Artemis Beevor)? It was confusion over this point that caused Anthony Powell to turn down a knighthood (or at least that was his explanation). His wife was entitled by birth to be addressed as Lady Violet and he feared she would be downgraded if she were mistakenly addressed as Lady Powell. On the other hand, your correspondent may be the one who is confused. These titles are a minefield perhaps better avoided.