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Boy Capel

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Boy Capel

Diana Wyndham (m. 1918)

Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel reading a book while leaning on the bookshelves, with a mustache, and wearing a coat and tie.
June Capel, Anne Capell, Ann Diana France Ayesha Capel

Hon. Georgina Anne Ward, Hon. Anthony Giles Humble Ward

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22 December 1919 (aged 38) Puget-sur-Argens, Var, Southern France

20 December 1881(age 38) Brighton, Sussex, United Kingdom

Captain Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel CBE (1881 – 22 December 1919) was an English polo player, possibly best-remembered for being a lover and muse of fashion designer Coco Chanel.


Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel smiling while carrying Coco Chanel. Boy wearing a black shirt while Coco wearing earrings, a pearl necklace, a black long sleeve top, and white pants.

Coco and Boy

Le Luc Racetrack - Boy Capel Challenge


Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel is smoking while looking at Coco Chanel smoking. Boy Capel wearing a black coat while Coco with a ribbon on her head, wearing a necklace, and a white dress.

Born in Brighton, Sussex, England, Capel was the son of Arthur Joseph Capel, a British shipping merchant, and his French-born wife, the former Berthe Andree A. E. Lorin (1856-1902). He had three sisters: Marie Henriette Teresia Capel; Mary Josephine Lawrence Edith Capel; and Berthe Isabelle Susanna Flora Capel (married Sir Herman Alfred de Stern, Baron Michelham).

In the obituary of one of Capel's daughters, he was described as "an intellectual, politician, tycoon, Polo-player and the dashing lover and sponsor of the fashion designer Coco Chanel". There are hints in biographies of Chanel about Capel's reputed (illegitimate) connections with the Capel Earls of Essex but no connection has been established: his paternal family originated in Ireland. He was already an apparently wealthy self-made man by 1909. An alumnus of Beaumont College, Capel was killed in an auto crash on Monday 22 December 1919, allegedly en route to a Christmas rendezvous with Chanel. He was buried with full military honours at Frejus Cathedral on 24 December 1919.

Capel and Chanel

Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel with a serious face while sitting on a chair, wearing a black coat over white long sleeves and a black bowtie, and black pants.

His affair with Chanel apparently began in 1909, when he became acquainted with Chanel, then the 26-year-old mistress of his friend Etienne Balsan. Capel financed Chanel's first shops and his own clothing style, notably his blazers, inspired her creation of the Chanel look. The couple spent time together at fashionable resorts such as Deauville, but he was never faithful to Chanel.

Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel with Coco Chanel lying on a beach.

Their relationship lasted nine years, and even after Capel married he continued his affair with Chanel until his death in late 1919. A roadside memorial was placed at the site of the accident, consisting of a cross bearing the inscription "A la memoire du capitaine Arthur Capel, legion d'Honneur de l'armee britannique, mort accidentellement en cet endroit le 22 decembre 1919."

Marriage and children

Coco Chanel and her lover Captain Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel kissing.  Coco wearing a white long sleeve blouse while Boy Capel wearing a black coat.

In 1918, Capel married the Honourable Diana Wyndham, nee Lister (born 7 May 1893—died 1983), a daughter of Lord Ribblesdale and widow of Captain Percy Lyulph Wyndham (killed in action, 1914), who was the half-brother of Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster. Diana's elder sister Laura was married to Lord Lovat, and another sister to Sir Mathew Wilson, 4th Baronet: after Capel's death, in 1923 Diana married Vere Fane, 14th Earl of Westmorland.

Capel had two daughters:

On the left, Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel with Coco Chanel wearing white bathrobes. In the middle, Boy Capel smiling with Coco Chanel. Boy wearing a black shirt and gray pants while Coco wearing a pearl necklace, a black long sleeve top, and white pants. On the right, Boy Capel is smoking while looking at Coco Chanel smoking. Boy Capel wearing a black coat while Coco with a ribbon on her head.
  • Ann Diana France Ayesha Capel (28 April 1919 — 4 May 2008). Ann was married three times and had children with her first two husbands. In 1940 she married her first husband, George Ward (1907–1988), who in 1960 was raised to the peerage Viscount Ward of Witley. Ann and Ward divorced in 1951. She had two children with him: a son who died unmarried in his parents' lifetime at the age of 40, and a daughter. On 7 August 1951 she married Richard Thurstan Holland-Martin (born December 26, 1907 — died 24 January 1968), by whom she had two sons: Barnaby Robert (born 1952) and Giles Thurstan (born 1955 — died 4 May 2008); they divorced in 1966. Ann Capel's third and final husband was Peter Higgins.
  • June Capel (born 1920 — died 26 September 2006), later Lady Hutchinson of Lullington. June was born after her father died, and he was apparently even unaware of her conception. Thus, he made no provisions for her in his will, and the will had to be contested to ensure that June got her fair share of her father's fortune (most of it subsequently stolen by a lawyer, according to Lady Hutchinson's obituary). In 1948 June Capel married Franz Osborn, by whom she had a son Christopher. Her second marriage took place in May 1966 to Jeremy Hutchinson, QC (born 28 March 1915). Hutchinson was the former husband of actress Peggy Ashcroft. and was created a life peer on 16 May 1978 with the title Baron Hutchinson of Lullington, of Lullington in the County of East Sussex.
  • Arthur Capel's living descendants today include the Honourable Mrs Patrick Tritton (daughter of his elder daughter Ann) and grandson Christopher Osborn, by his younger daughter June, Lady Hutchinson.

    Fictional portrayals

  • French actor Olivier Sitruk played Capel in Coco Chanel (2008), a French-Italian-British television film, starring Shirley MacLaine as an elder Chanel.
  • Alessandro Nivola played Capel in the film Coco avant Chanel (2009), starring Audrey Tautou as Chanel.
  • Anatole Taubman played him in Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2009).
  • Timothy Dalton played him in the film Chanel Solitaire (1981).
  • References

    Boy Capel Wikipedia