BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Mary Archer: For better and worse
Lord and Lady Archer
Together forever: Marriage vows put to the test
Mary Archer makes a habit of stepping in to defend her beleaguered husband.

Her loyalty to Lord Archer - with his reputation for infidelity and poor professional judgement - is renowned.

Appearing in the witness box during her husband's perjury trial she said candidly: "I think we have explored the further reaches of 'for better or worse' far more than some other couples."

Lady Archer has had her patience tested many times during the past 35 years - and with her husband now facing four years in prison her toughest times are yet to come.

She first met Jeffrey Archer when she was a 19-year-old chemistry student at Oxford University.

After their marriage in 1966, Lord Archer pursued his political and business ambitions and Lady Archer continued her research, becoming one of the UK's top solar experts.

Testing times

While she was pregnant with their second son in the mid 1970s, her husband informed her that he had lost hundreds of thousands of pounds of their savings in a failed investment.


I don't stand by him because of a sense of duty. I do it because I want to

Mary Archer
They lost their house and were plunged into debt. She stood by him as he resigned from Parliament and struggled to recoup the money by writing a best-selling novel.

During this time Lady Archer took up a fellowship at Cambridge and was the family's sole source of income.

She watched as his political career was resurrected when he was appointed as deputy chairman of the Tory party in 1985.

But the reversal of his fortunes proved short-lived when the News of the World claimed he had paid Monica Coghlan £2,000 to prevent her talking about their relationship.

'Fragrant' witness

In the weeks following Lord Archer's resignation as deputy Tory Party chairman in the wake of the allegations, his wife was depicted as a silent yet firm standard-bearer for her husband.

It was during the following year's libel case that she came into her own as the rock on which the foundations of the Archer family rested.

It was the poetic tribute she garnered from Mr Justice Caulfield at the end of her husband's 1987 libel action against the Daily Star which cemented her in the public's mind.

Summing-up the case, he described the politician's wife as a vision of "elegance, fragrance and radiance".

He said the "vision of Mary in the witness box would never disappear".

She admitted in later interviews the comments had made her "wince".

Shares focus

But there was more embarrassment to come.

When questions were raised about the lightning £77,219 profit Lord Archer made for a friend by buying and selling Anglia shares, his business affairs came uncomfortably close to home.

Lady Archer was a non-executive director of Anglia, although her integrity was never called into doubt. She remained standing defiantly at her husband's shoulder.

While Lady Archer may always have remained loyal, she has never been afraid to speak her mind.

Love and marriage

On several occasions she has talked candidly about her marriage.

In July 1987, following the successful conclusion of his libel suit, she said: "You cannot be in love with your husband after 21 years of marriage, but I do love Jeffrey very much indeed."

On another occasion she wryly, and somewhat affectionately, described her husband's "gift for inaccurate précis".

When giving evidence during her husband's perjury trial she said of his affair with Andrina Colquhoun: "He would not have been the first aspiring politician to have had the odd fling."

Above all, what stands out about Mary Archer is her apparently undiminished dedication to her husband's cause.

"I don't stand by him because of a sense of duty. I do it because I want to," she said.



Background

Profiles

Panorama coverage

AUDIO/VIDEO

TALKING POINT
Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes