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Richard Raoul Packwood, KCG, OBE (1854-1939)

Richard Raoul Packwood, KCG, OBE (1854-1939)

Born in Surrey to an impoverished branch of nobility, was nevertheless educated at Harrow and went on to Cambridge University (Balsham’s Peterhouse). There he excelled in history, languages, and demerits, having been almost turned out three times for riotous assembly and ribaldry, yet managed to convince the summoning committee each time that his actions were preparatory exercises in necessary diplomatic and military skills for maintaining Empire. He was promoted each time and managed the unheard of feat, of a triple degree in History, Economics, and Languages (1874). Packwood passed off the singular honor as only a lark, even though there was loose talk at the time that several of the examiners were coerced into their recommendations by inside knowledge of alleged vice that Packwood had collected and was prepared to publish if necessary. (Fellow Peterhousemen of the period nicknamed him “Hat Trick,” but few others were ever permitted such familiarities, and were liable for the English Public School practice of “fag caning,” no matter where or by whom the infraction occurred.)

Nevertheless, instead of immediately entering the Foreign Service, as was expected, he purchased a commission in the 11th Regiment of Light Dragoons, serving in India and the Middle East, and was seconded to Sir Henry Bartle Frere’s delegation in Natal Province, South Africa, in 1877. While information on his activities has been suppressed by order of His Majesty’s government, certain rumors circulated at the time of surreptitious involvement in the Zulu conflict and a certain native princess who had Prince Cetshwayo’s ear.

Little is known about his subsequent travels on board his yacht, the “Diamante Regina.”  But he was said to have financed some secretive private operations in South America, the Baltic States, and only surfaced in 1893 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, at the Columbian World Exposition, as ambassadorial plenipotentiary to the Egyptian exhibit, where he squired the notorious dancing sensation “Little Egypt” about the city, to the extreme disapproval of the British delegation.

It was while he was in Chicago, during a celebratory supper in honor of the mayor’s wife, when, as reported in the society pages of the Tribune, he scandalized the company with anecdotes about “Dickie Burton, a certain Flash Harry, and an unnamed rakehell scion of the Royal Family.” After that publication, he disappeared, only to resurface in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, where he seems to have resided until the outbreak of The Great War in 1914.

Again, regrettably, his service during the global hostilities is clouded by rumor and speculation. What is known, as it was reported in the London Times, in an almost un-noticed article in the announcement section of the Classifieds (6-12-18), that “a certain Major Packwood had been knighted, decorated, and initiated into the Royal Order of the Garter on the same afternoon by King George V.” Since such a triple accolade had never been heard of, before or since, there was remarkably little press coverage, but common parlance had it put about that the King had paid off some immense private debt of honor for services rendered to the royal family in times past.

After this, Sir Richard Packwood, KCG, OBE, retired to the former colonies in the Caribbean, although legal documents reveal property registrations and title transfers of various enterprises all along the American Gulf Coast. He seems to have been involved in shipping and transportation interests from Tampa, Florida, USA, to Galveston, Texas, USA until his sudden disappearance in 1937, after publishing and then destroying several works of literature that he been laboring on for some years.

His death was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on November 12th, 1939, after a feast involving some unnamed women of salacious repute, who ended up figuring in a court-case involving his estate. (See: Pensacola, Florida, USA, Daily News, March 17th, 1943).

Known Aliases: Patrick Hackwood; Patrick Hawkwood; “Packwood Pasha;” Per Streichholtz; Raoul Kalaptrukk; Dickie Hattrick; “Deuce Car.”

The only known photographs of Richard Raoul Packwood are housed in the Packwood Papers Collection, Arkham College, Providence, Rhode Island. Rumors have been recently circulated that some original glass negatives have surfaced in New Orleans, at an archeological dig in the old neighborhood of Storyville. An old sea trunk, which had suffered from moisture disintegration during flooding, was released from its bondage in a storage space beneath an old brothel, but the soil disturbance under that section of the old city brought about by Hurricane Katrina allowed many artifacts to arise in the dig. According to un-named sources connected with Tulane University, manuscripts in abundance may be available. Although what remains has been reduced to a water fused, fragile ball of pulp. Recent laser technology has been able to isolate a handful of fused pages, and as long as there are no setbacks, new releases of formerly lost editions from the Packwood Papers may be available soon.


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