KUCHING: James Bertram Lionel Brooke, heir to the White Rajahs and head of the Brooke Family, passed away in Scotland in the early hours of May 27.
A press statement issued by his son and Brooke Trust director Jason Brooke said James, only son of Rajah Muda Anthony and Ranee Muda Kathleen, was a motor racing driver and sixth in the direct line of succession to the White Rajahs.
Born in Bombay on Aug 16, 1940, he was named for the first Rajah.
Living at the Astana as a small child during his father’s term of rule, his first language was Malay, and his mother wrote in her diary that when spoken to in English, he would translate it and reply in Malay – something which perplexed his parents and tutors.
He was evacuated to England on the eve of the Japanese invasion, fortunate to be aboard one of the last P&O liners heading westward before the fall of Singapore.
Attending Eton, where he developed a passion for motor racing and helped found the Eton Automobile Association, he was elected house captain and a member of the Eton Society (Pop).
From there he engaged full time in his passion, racing single seater cars at Brands Hatch and Silverstone, and almost getting to Monaco.
Later he would meet and marry Karen Lappin and the family would live for stints in London and the highlands of Scotland.
He was deeply affected by his childhood and the loss of Sarawak, and towards the end of his life expressed a desire to make one final trip in support of the work of the Brooke Trust, of which he was chairman.
His time in Sarawak in 2011, following his father’s death, and the warm welcome he received from the Chief Minister, Head of State, and Sarawakians on the ground, was an experience which remained with him to his final days.