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Despite his measured professional and sporting attitude (which some have unkindly described as chilly), Lord Coe comes from a long line of artists and bohemians – people who never allowed themselves to be shaped by the social mores of their time.‘It makes me smile,’ he said, ‘that people see me as this classical Englishman when I’m such a cultural mix.He met and fell in love with Vera Swan – Coe’s grandmother – an adventurous, spirited girl who had been brought up in a bohemian household.Vera was the strong-willed daughter of Edward Swan, a minor but respected painter and fellow of the Royal Academy.Friends have told Coe that Sardari was a charming and exuberant character who delighted in bucking the system.
Elegant, dashing and full of a sense of adventure, he was supposed to have been studying law at one of the London universities.
As he reveals today on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, his mother Angela was half Indian – the daughter of a gregarious Indian hotelier from the Punjab called Sardari Lal.
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