Little is known about the parents of James Bond. Occasionally, some information comes up in the novels or films, but a clear description of them is not to be found. In this article, I will compile all the information about his blood relatives from the Fleming books and the films. I have not included the continuation books.
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Misconception about the family tree
Fleming first writes about the ancestors of James Bond in the eleventh novel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963). Sean Connery had made his debut as Bond in the film series the year before, which, in part, thanks to him, led to the massive success of Dr. No (1962). For Ian Fleming, this was a reason to give James Scottish roots. In that eleventh novel, James visits the College of Arms to obtain information about Blofeld. An employee of the College of Arms, Griffon Or, tries to find out where his family comes from immediately after Bond’s arrival.
“Yes, yes, yes. Very interesting indeed. Very. But I fear I have to disappoint you, my dear sir. The title is extinct. Actually, it’s a baronetcy. Most desirable. But no doubt we can establish a relationship through a collateral branch. Now then […] we have some ten different families of Bond. The important one ended with Sir Thomas Bond, a most distinguished gentleman. He resided in Peckham. […] If we could somehow establish a connection to Peckham.”
“I have no connection to Peckham. Well, I…” Griffon Or raised his hand. He said seriously, “Where do your parents come from, if I may ask?”
“My father was Scottish, and my mother was Swiss. But the point is…”
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Chapter 6, Bond of Bond Street
What strikes me is how curtly Bond responds that he has no connection to Peckham, and therefore, not to Sir Thomas Bond. This is the man after whom Bond Street in London is named, and whose family motto is even used for the title of the nineteenth film, The World Is Not Enough (1999). In the paragraphs that follow, James shows little interest in this branch of the Bond family. In fact, he almost seems to deny that he is part of the Peckham branch. This could mean that the literary Bond and the cinematic Bond have different ancestors. In the film adaptation of Majesty’s from 1969 with George Lazenby, and from the cufflinks Craig wears in Skyfall (2012), this family line seems to be confirmed. Even more famous is Brosnan’s remark to Elektra King: “Family motto.”
Nevertheless, Bond’s reaction in the book is mainly indifference, not necessarily denial. His attention is focused on investigating an enemy, not on his own family history. Fortunately, details of Fleming’s correspondence with Robin de la Lanne-Mirlees, who helped Fleming with research while writing Majesty’s, have been preserved.
The family name ‘Bond’
Meaning: husbandsman, bondsman, tenant, etc.
During his time at the College of Arms, Robin de la Lanne-Mirrlees maintained contact with Ian Fleming. He reportedly sent Fleming about 44 pages of background information about people with the name Bond (or Blofeld). In fact, almost no one with the name Bond comes from outside London, except for a variant from Wales. However, Robin de la Lanne-Mirrlees also writes to Fleming that although it rarely occurs, it does not mean that there is no Scottish branch.
So the chance that Bond’s father was Scottish is very small but not necessarily impossible. For example, my own last name is typically Gronings (from Groningen), and I come from North Brabant. Migration or a lost branch could be a reason for a Bond in Glencoe.
Andrew Bond and Monique Delacroix Bond
In Chapter 6 of Majesty’s, it becomes clear that the family of Bond’s father, Andrew Bond, comes from the vicinity of Glencoe in Scotland, and he has no living family members. In the next book, You Only Live Twice (1964), we read in Bond’s obituary that Andrew was a foreign representative of Vickers. A company that existed between 1828 and 1999 and specialized in making weapons and airplanes. In this book, we also read about James’ mother, Monique Delacroix. Monique was born as the daughter of a wealthy Swiss industrialist and grew up in Canton de Vaud. Together with Andrew, she has a son, James, who is born in Zurich.
In the book Majesty’s, one of his parents is briefly quoted as James recalls an old childhood memory on the beach of Royale-les-Eaux (a fictional coastal town in France).
It reminded him almost too vividly of his childhood – of the velvet feel of the hot powder sand, and the painful grit of wet sand between young toes when the time came for him to put his shoes and socks on, of the precious little pile of sea-shells and interesting wrack on the sill of his bedroom window (“No, we’ll have to leave that behind, darling. It’ll dirty up your trunk!”), of the small crabs scuttling away from the nervous fingers groping beneath the seaweed in the rock-pools, of the swimming and swimming and swimming through the dancing waves – always in those days it seemed, lit with sunshine – and then the infuriating, inevitable “time to come out.” It was all there, his own childhood, spread out before him to have another look at.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Chapter 1, Seascape with figures
From James’ obituary, it is clear that after the death of his parents, guardianship falls to his aunt Charmian Bond, his father’s sister. She is already deceased at the time when the scene takes place at the College of Arms. After the death of his parents, Bond lives with Charmian in a small village called Pett Bottom, near Canterbury in Kent. There, in a small house near the charming Duck Inn, his aunt, who according to M “must have been a most erudite and accomplished lady,” completes Bond’s education before he goes to an English public school. At the age of twelve or thereabouts, he goes to Eton, the college where he was enrolled by his father at birth.
Also, an old colleague of his father plays a significant role in 1941 when James wants to join the navy. He helps James get a job at the Ministry of Defence, even though he is actually too young to be hired at that time.
The relationship between young James and his aunt is further elaborated in the Young Bond series. This is all the information we read about the Bond family in Ian Fleming’s novels.
The Pierce Brosnan films
The origin of James Bond and the death of his parents are mentioned in only a few films. In GoldenEye (1995), Alec Trevelyan taunts his former colleague 007, saying that James’ parents had the “luxury” of dying in a skiing accident. Two films later, in The World Is Not Enough, Elektra tells Bond that she could have given him “the world.” In response, he says, “The world is not enough.” She finds it a “foolish sentiment,” but Bond confirms it – as I wrote earlier in this article – as a family motto.
The third and fourth Daniel Craig films delve deeper into Bond’s hidden past. In the finale of Skyfall, Bond and M flee to Scotland. Along the way, they stop by the roadside, where M asks James if “this is the place” where he grew up. He remains silent. She tries again, “How old were you when they died?” There’s a stream in the background. “You know the answer to that. You know the whole story.” M lets out a deep sigh, “Orphans always make the best recruits.”
Shortly thereafter, the two decide to continue driving to Skyfall Lodge, a large, old mansion nestled among the mountains. The place where James grew up. M has her thoughts, “Christ, no wonder you never came back.” Once inside, they discover that the old gamekeeper Kincade is still alive. He tells M that young James Bond hid in the priest hole for three days when he was told the news that his parents had died. “When he came out, he was no longer a boy.”
Before Skyfall villain Silva enters the chapel to kill M, he briefly stares at a gravestone. It’s the gravestone of James’ parents. Their names are listed on it with the text: Tragically departed, although this is hardly readable in the film. At the very bottom of the stone, out of the camera shot, is one last line: Mors ultima linea rerum est, which means: death is the ultimate boundary, or as the expression was often used at the horse races: death is the finish line. It is a phrase from the Roman poet Horace, who wrote a letter (1.16) to his friend Quinctius Hirpinus.
The Foraging Photographer’s website has two articles with behind-the-scenes photos from the set of Skyfall Lodge (Grave news at Skyfall Lodge and Bond/Fleming’s family heritage). In them, he writes about how the set was constructed, but also about the names on the gravestones and the reason why some names were chosen. For example, there is a stone with the name Valentine Bond, a nod to Valentine Fleming, Ian’s father. If you want to read more about that, I highly recommend those articles.
In Spectre (2015), we catch one last glimpse of Charmian Bond, who is referred to as the Legal guardian on the Order of temporary guardianship form. Below that, H. (Hannes) Oberhauser is listed as the Temporary guardian.
With the different timelines (the books, the original film timeline, and the Craig timeline), different answers are possible. It is clear, in any case, that Bond’s parents were named Andrew and Monique and that they died in a climbing accident in the mountains. Whether Bond is related to Sir Thomas or not is something that readers or viewers can interpret for themselves. Not all questions are always easy to answer. Perhaps in a franchise with so many books and films, it’s an impossible task.
Thanks to Merlijn Kuiper (Bondesque Magazine), who informed me of the correspondence between Ian Fleming and Robin de la Lanne-Mirrlees and wisely said to me, “How important is Bond’s background? It’s just filling in basically nothing.”
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