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Lord and Lady Lucan, back in the day. She was just recently found deceased in the same Belgravia house where the nanny’s murder occurred. Fair use, multiple sources

This an ECLIPSE re-print from 2015 with some new material added, a wee mystery to ponder this weekend. Have a great one! jd

If Ian Fleming, Agatha Christie, and Ian McEwan had each jumped into a time machine, met in a mutually agreed upon cozy writing spot, and together woven a story of a dashing noble who gambles himself deep into debt, is suspected of murder, and the very day following the murder vanishes without a trace, they would’ve written something astonishingly close to the life of Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, a gambler and gadabout who at one point was considered for the movie role of James Bond. Lord Lucan (born 18 December 1934 ntk at Marylebone/ London United Kingdom) took the privilege accorded him due to birth and parlayed that into a miserable marriage and a gambling debt equivalent to half a million dollars in today’s coin.

On the evening of November 7, 1974, the nanny for Lord Lucan’s children was murdered in the basement of the family home. Lucan did not live in the house at the time, but he did come to the house that evening and got into a physical fight with his wife when she came downstairs looking for the nanny, who hadn’t returned with tea, as expected. Both Lucan and his wife were bloodied and bruised, and eventually retreated together to the bathroom to tend their wounds, according to the account of Lucan’s wife, Veronica, and his daughter, who saw them after the fight. Lucan left (presumably before the nanny’s body had been discovered), stopped by a friend’s house in the wee hours of the morning of the 8th, and was never heard from again.

The working theory all these years is that Lucan is the killer; the supposition is that he mistook the nanny, a petite woman with long, strawberry blond hair who bore an uncanny resemblance to wife Veronica, for his alimony-demanding, custody-of-the-kids holding, ex-spouse. There is lots of circumstantial evidence to support this, including the police finding a car he had borrowed that contained his fingerprints, the nanny’s blood, and a lead pipe very similar to the one used to kill his employee. He told the friend he visited that night, who is the last person known to have seen him alive, that he saw someone attacking the nanny through the basement window, and went into the house to help. His wife and son both believe he likely killed himself out of guilt, but no body has been found, and whatever happened, he left without his keys, passport, eyeglasses, and other important small bits, suggesting a certain finality to events, whether he died or changed his identity.

Unfortunately we don’t have a birth time for Lucan, but when we set a transit chart for the early morning hours of the 8th and compare it with the natal placements, we still get some compelling contacts. First we might try to ascertain whether he was of a mind to kill that evening, and especially if he might’ve targeted his spouse. His natal Venus in Capricorn is square his natal Mars in Libra, setting him up to expect conflict in man-woman scenarios, and the midpoint of transiting Ceres-Juno sextiled this Venus, suggesting at that point he could’ve easily seen his wife as a vengeful force of Nature—and with transiting Sedna trine n Venus and Black Moon Lilith sesquiquadrate it natally, he may have been primed to act out, a temporary ‘blind spot’ nicely masking anything about his relationships that would contradict the in-born belief that women were Lilith-like and the carriers of unreasonable rage (as a male-oriented society inevitably characterizes BML energy)—all stoking his resentment of his wife.

We might ask, does Lucan have it in him to kill? Of course, the natal chart can only give clues, not definitive answers, but there are a few interesting things of note. Lucan has a natal Sun-Vesta conjunction, suggesting the potential for him to see himself as sacred, upping the chance he would easily take affront or act out in ways designed to protect himself. His natal Pluto quincunxes his Sun and Saturn, making it apex to a Finger of God, and opposes natal Juno, a recipe for destruction triggered by any threat to what he’s built, especially if it should come from the spouse. His natal Uranus-Pluto square, which may have offered spontaneous, burn-’em-all-down fireworks as a matter of course, was at the time of the murder filled in as a Fist of God by t Neptune, suggesting that those Uranus-Pluto impulses may not have seen clearly their own expression, acted out in defense of an ideal, a fantasy, or a delusion (and see later for more potentials for this config). And there is the way t Uranus is at 29 degrees of Libra, setting up a general atmosphere of strain and sudden action in partnerships of all kinds.

Transiting Mercury was squaring his natal Pluto (difficult messages/ communications/ thoughts that hinted at destruction) and t Jupiter formed apex with these two to a Fist of God. This is a vote for suicide, with Jupiter the planet associated with the leave-taking of death; certainly, dark thoughts could’ve driven him in that direction. That t Merc was also sextile his natal Sun, tying thoughts to his sense of identity and well-being. Too, t BML sextiled his Mercury and both were quincunx t Saturn, forming a Finger of God that implies he might’ve felt enormous mental pressure to do something in the physical world to address things. And, t Sun-Venus were just moving off natal Jupiter, perhaps suggesting to him that suicide might be the most rewarding way out.

Also of note: that in the early morning hours the transiting Leo Moon (the kind we can’t help thinking about ourselves under) squared his (supposed) natal Taurus Moon, while t Uranus had been putting steady pressure on Luna for some time. This argues for emotionally charged tension surrounding the Self, one’s impulses, and the future, while t Saturn squared natal Sedna, suppressing the instincts and perhaps insisting he had no ‘blind spot’, everything was just as he assessed it. t Pallas was also trining that Moon, reinforcing the idea that the emotional reactions were giving him smart guidance, in spite of the results. Should his natal Moon actually be in early Gemini (possible if his birth occurred later in the day), he would still receive a stressful square from the transiting Moon, and we can add one from t Ceres, as well, perhaps making the pressure from females confident and in charge of their own autonomy and domain more than he could bear.

His large gambling debts imply he might’ve been a prime target for a hit, as he’d owed for years and there were no prospects for new income in the future (in fact, his natal Pluto in Cancer square his Uranus-Pallas, clearly spelling out his Self-destructive tendencies, triggered by transiting North Node-Vesta-Neptune, forming a Fist of God—the smack down may have been something he always imagined, and was always headed for—it may even have been something he courted, revering the idea of payback). A 1975 inquest held that he was guilty of the murder and convicted him in absentia, so there’s little incentive for him to ever surface again, if he is alive.  Theories of his fate abound, everything from being whisked from the country by MI5 and hidden in a Greek monastery to being fed to the tigers of zoo owner, gambling hall impresario, and close friend (to whom he presumably owed a lot of money) John Aspinall, but my favorite is that he took off for New Zealand, where he lives still with a goat named ‘Camilla’.

So, to review, it’s Lord Lucan, in the basement, with the lead pipe.

And has the mystery been solved?