As befitted the grandson of a king, Lord Harewood was a man of great charm and impeccable manners.

Born into wealth and privilege, he endured privations during the Second World War, which he believed gave him a greater insight into suffering in the world.

George Henry Hubert Lascelles, first cousin to the Queen, died peacefully at Harewood House on Monday at the age of 88.

But his life almost came to an end during the Second World War when he was just 21. On June 18, 1944 he was shot – the bullet narrowly missing his heart.

Bizarrely, his father had been wounded on June 18, 1915, fighting in France, and his great-great-grandfather was wounded on the same day in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo.

“We don't take part in wars in June anymore,” he told me wryly.

After his wounding Guardsman Lascelles was taken to Colditz, where he was one of a small group of socalled 'Prominente' prisoners – relatives of allied VIPs – who were kept as potential bargaining chips.

As the Allies and Russians advanced on Berlin it seemed increasingly likely that the Prominente would be killed – but George Lascelles’ luck held out again when the General charged with executing him decided to ignore a death warrant signed by Hitler.

Lord Harewood, a lover of opera, had many important roles in the arts world. He was artistic director of the Leeds Festival and of the Edinburgh Festival, artistic advisor to the New Philharmonic Orchestra, managing director of Sadler's Wells Opera, and vice chairman of Opera North.

A keen football fan he had also been President of Leeds United.

He was the first to admit he had been lucky in life. On his 80th birthday he wrote: “I can only bless the stars which have so frequently shone down.”