The Late Ned Ryan Upperchurch Is Laid To Rest

One of the last links with the late Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (Margaret Rose; 21 August 1930 – 9 February 2002) younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II and the younger daughter of King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth, has been lost, with the death earlier this week of Mr Ned Ryan, the Irish-born property figure who became one of the late Princess’s closest confidants.

The Late Ned Ryan Pictured with Princess Margaret, Actress Joan Collins, Jane Spencer-Church and Ned himself attending the Funeral of Robert Sangster in London.

Ned, The Line, Shevry, Upperchurch, Thurles and Ovington Street, London who never married, died on Tuesday after a lengthy battle with cancer, at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital .

The son of a Tipperary farmer, Ned, a one-time London bus conductor, had an antique stall in Portobello Market when he first got to know Princess Margaret some time in the 1970s. His first introduction came about when he was seated next to her at a dinner party held by the Russian/Swiss actress,designer Anouska Hempel. (Latter born Anne Geissler of The Kiss of the Vampire, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Space 1999 fame.)

During Margaret’s turbulent romantic life, it was to Mr Ned Ryan that she turned as a friend and escort for outings to the theatre and ballet. Once he even took her to a Rolling Stones concert where he famously shielded Margaret’s gaze from prying press reporters with his jacket. They would often be seen dining out together in restaurants such as Poissonnerie de l’Avenue in South Kensington, or Le Caprice and Harry’s Bar in Mayfair. He would also cook Irish stew for her in his Knightsbridge kitchen.

Of his friendship with Princess Margaret he recalled: “When we met at that dinner party, I had begun running a stall selling antique silver in the Portobello market and she wanted to know where I got my stock from. I told her I went to Bermondsey early on Fridays and she asked if she could come with me. So next Friday I took her there very early in the morning and she sought out pieces of porcelain as I looked for silver. She loved it and we became great friends.”

This excursion to Bermondsey was supposed to be a private occasion, but largely because of Ryan’s chivalrous behaviour in flinging his cloak, Walter Raleigh style, over a muddy puddle in the market, ensuring Margaret would not have to get her feet wet, the stallholders soon realised who she really was. Press photographs were soon on the scene and the visit was reported widely in the press. Margaret, however, seemed not to greatly care and Ryan did indeed become her lasting friend and often her companion at Ascot and the fashionable Caprice restaurant in Mayfair with her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Anson.  Indeed he was one of  Margaret first friends, called by Viscount Linley, with the sad news of the late princesses death.

His death along with that of other’s of Princess Margaret’s regular companions, Norman Lonsdale, and more recently Lord Glenconner, brings the curtain down on a generation of close friends of the Princess.

Deeply regretted by his loving brothers Pakie and Tommy, sister Chris, sister-in-law Joan, brother-in-law Michael, nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, relatives and friends in Ireland, England and indeed worldwide, Ned Ryan’s body will be interned in Upperchurch local cemetery following Requiem Mass at 2 o’c in The Sacred Heart Church, Upperchurch today (Monday).

“And, as a hare whom hounds and horns pursue
Pants to the place from whence at first he flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return–and die at home at last.”

(From Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village.)

A Memorial Service to Mr Ryan will be held in London, to be arranged at a later date.

Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.


3 comments to The Late Ned Ryan Upperchurch Is Laid To Rest

  • During the mid-‘seventies while a student at UCC, I worked as receptionist each summer at the Constantine Hotel in London, (a sister hotel to Blakes), which was co-owned by Ned Ryan and Constantine and Anouska Hemple. Ned would pop in from time to time and always stop for a little chat about Thurles. I remember him as a very pleasant and affable man. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

  • Anonymous

    My dear uncle, sadly missed xx

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