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Inspiration for 'O.H.M.S.S' College of Arms character dies aged 87

24-Jun-2012 • Bond News

Robin Ian Evelyn Milne Stuart de la Lanne-Mirrlees (born 13 January 1925) was an author and former officer of arms at the College of Arms in London. After several years of ill health, he died at a nursing home in Stornoway on 23 June 2012, aged 87. The French-born, Oxford-educated aristocrat died in the Blar Buidhe nursing home.

He was born as Robin Ian Evelyn Grinnell-Milne in 1925, godson of the 11th Duke of Argyll. He was educated at the English School of Cairo, and also in Paris. He also attended Merton College, Oxford. He undertook military service, rising to the rank of captain in the Royal Artillery. His heraldic career began on 17 May 1952 when he was appointed Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary. In 1958 he adopted by deed poll the name of Robin Ian Evelyn Milne Stuart le Comte de La Lanne-Mirrlees.

Mirrlees held the post of Rogue Dragon Pursuivant from 1952 to 1962 at the College of Arms in London, and was promoted to the office of Richmond Herald of Arms in Ordinary until his retirement in 1967. During this time at the College of Arms, he provided James Bond creator Ian Fleming with background information pertaining to heraldry and the College of Arms. In return, Fleming created the character Sable Basilisk and based him upon Robin for his 1963 novel "On Her Majesty's Secret Service".

Mirrlees' traced his own genealogy and discovered the common family trait that they are born with no ear lobes. Fleming grafted this characteristic on to the book's villain Blofeld. This trait would be carried through to the film adaptation, although the character based on Mirrlees would have a name change to Sir Hilary Bray.

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