THE new Lord Montagu is the late peer’s eldest son, 54-year-old Ralph Montagu, who succeeds to the title immediately.

He trained as a graphic designer but is also a familiar face in the world of TV, having produced a documentary about his father and a series of short films about the stars of the TV comedy series Dad’s Army.

Ralph Montagu was educated at Hordle Walhampton School, near Lymington.

He is a former member of the Verderers, the organisation that represents the interests of people who own the Forest's famous ponies.

Each year he welcomes guests arriving for the annual Beaulieu Estate dinner and also makes a speech detailing the key events of the past 12 months.

He has also been instrumental in securing much-needed social housing in the village.

Interviewed in 2007 he said: “The value of housing has spiralled upwards and the price of housing is beyond the means of those who have been brought up here.

“My gut feeling is that it isn’t quite right that people in local jobs are struggling to find even a small house while others who work elsewhere can come in and buy a house and not even use it.

“My contribution to that is that I have provided sites for housing association houses to be built in the village.”

In 2008 he became one of the most prominent figures in the Forest to criticise a management plan put forward by the National Park Authority.

The hotly-contested proposals included dog-free zones, road tolls and tighter restrictions of recreational horse keeping, were later ditched following a mass revolt by thousands of Forest residents.

Despite growing up in the shadow of a motor museum, one of his main interests is steam trains.

A few years ago he suggested building a narrow gauge railway between the National Motor Museum and Buckler’s Hard to reduce the number of cars in the area.

The new Lady Montagu is his wife Ailsa. The couple have no children.