Dave Rodney, Gleaner Contributor
Syndicated gossips are rushing into the island of St Lucia this week for a riveting court case. A white British aristocrat, Lord Glenconner, died three years ago and left his island fortune of £20 million for his faithful, loyal, black St Lucian manservant of 30 years, Kent Adonai.
Now a 19 year-old grandson of the Brit has filed a lawsuit to take the considerable fortune back into the hands of the family. The suit claims that Lord Glenconner was not of sound mind when he revised his will months before his death from cancer at 83, leaving everything for his servant and nothing but the aristocratic titles for his family.
Lord Glenconner, whose real name is Colin Tennant, had been separated from his wife Anne (Lady Glenconner) for decades although they were never divorced. Friends of Lady Glenconner say she had a preference for the cooler climes of Scotland. Her husband, who once chased Princess Margaret for marriage, was happiest in the pleasure playgrounds of the warm and inviting Caribbean isles.
Furthermore, insiders whisper that when Lady Glenconner did make rare visits, her time was taken up at grand hotels with other pursuits and not so much at the matrimonial home that she is now, with her grandson, vigorously claiming. And to thicken the plot, Glenconner’s wife, Anne, was formerly lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret while he was a former suitor to the princess.
But despite the fact the couple was almost always separated by 4,000 miles, they still enjoyed a polite and cordial exchange. Two of their three sons died from lifestyle illness and the third was the victim of a terrible motorcycle accident that left him permanently disabled. So upon Glenconner’s death, his wife assumed that their teenage grandson, Cody Tennant, would inherit the fabulous St Lucia estate overlooking the glittering Caribbean Sea.
“Cody was to get something. I would get something, and the others too,” Anne reportedly told associates. But months before Glenconner died in 2010, he changed his will, leaving everything for Kent Adonai, his trusted servant and right-hand man. The dramatic change was apparently made in full awareness of the fact that there could be virtually no reversal under St Lucia laws. But after three years of salivating over his grandfather’s fortune, Cody finally found a loophole: to argue that Glenconner was blissfully unaware of the changes he made to his will.
The very eccentric and colourful Lord Glenconner was educated at Eton and Oxford, and apart from a solid track record of hosting the most outlandish costume parties on the island, he is also credited with transforming the Caribbean outpost of Mustique from a mosquito-infested back bush to a posh, plush playpen for the wealthy and the famous. He reportedly bought Mustique in 1958 for £45,000 and lived there for nearly two decades until he relocated to St Lucia in a huff after a fallout with the business sector on Mustique. He was an avid world traveller and often did lavish safari trips to Bali, India and parts of Africa.
In contrast, Kent Adonai grew up in extreme poverty in the slums of St Lucia. He had limited schooling and spent most of his youthful years helping his dad to load banana boats sailing from St Lucia to England. “Kent is illiterate. He cannot read or write”, is how Lady Glenconner described Kent Adonai, who is now the executor of her former husband’s estate. Adonai spends his days leisurely fishing for blue marlin. His intellect may not be Oxonian but he certainly intends to put up a brave fight to keep his inheritance.
The case is listed on the schedule of the high court of St Lucia for this week. Adonai plans to prove that his master was in full control of his faculties when he changed his will. To champion his court case, he has hired UWI law school graduate and hotshot attorney on the island of St Lucia, Michelle Anthony Desir, from the law firm DuBoulay, Anthony & Co. Desir also happens to be the daughter of the prime minister of St Lucia, Kenny Anthony.
Desir is widely respected on the island as a legal powerhouse and inheritance law is one of her areas of speciality. Up to press time, several calls to her office from The Gleaner for a comment on the case proved futile, as she was either on conference calls or seeing clients.
“He taught me so much about the world, about history and culture. Every day, I miss him terribly,” Adonai told a British newspaper. “I was with him every day. We would talk for hours, I drove him everywhere. He was a wonderful man,” Adonai continued.
Time will tell how this saga plays out. It is unclear who the London bookmakers are backing in this legal showdown, but many unblinking eyeballs will be glued to this very unusual case to see who the real pirates of the Caribbean are.