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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 July, 2005, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Californian in line for earldom
Bill Capell
Bill Capell said he was confident the title would not change him
A 52-year-old retired greengrocer from the United States is likely to become the next Earl of Essex.

Bill Capell, of Sacramento, California, could inherit the title from a distant cousin, from Lancaster, who took the title last month after his father died.

He has researched his family history online and said he was confident the title would not change him.

Mr Capell said he has never visited the UK but planned to move to Essex if and when the time comes.

"I've seen pictures of the county and it looks like a beautiful place," he said.

"I've started reading the Telegraph newspaper online. I know there are differences and I'm very interested to know what life is like over there."

There are times when I think I could be a part of the decision-making process that affects a whole country
Bill Capell

Mr Capell, who recently had knee replacement surgery after 27 years of standing behind a shop counter, said he would consider putting his name forward as a candidate for the House of Lords.

"I am not exactly sure what they do but I am very willing to take a role in the community and do whatever I can," he said.

"There are times when I think I could be a part of the decision-making process that affects a whole country."

Co-editor of Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, Dr Morris Bierbrier, said Mr Capell could make of the role what he chose, pointing out that many earls became patrons and chairmen of charities.

Before he can inherit the title, Mr Capell must outlive the 11th Earl, Paul Capell, 61, an unmarried teacher who lives in a two-bedroom bungalow in Lancaster.

Paul Capell's father, the 10th Earl of Essex, a retired grocer, died last month.




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