EXCLUSIVE: Earl of Devon Charles Courtenay split from his former Baywatch star wife AJ Langer after ‘years of struggling with homesickness and the stress of maintaining their 600-acre estate,’ friends claim
The Earl of Devon could have split from his former Baywatch star wife after years of struggling with homesickness and the stress of maintaining their 600-acre estate, friends claim.
Charles Courtenay, 48, announced his divorce from Ohio native AJ Langer, 49, after 18 years citing “irreconcilable differences.” They say they are now focusing on the “well-being of their wonderful children.”
Ms. Langer, who played Caroline Larkin as a teenager in Baywatch, was also in the 1990s teen drama hit My So-Called Life and The Wonder Years. Later in life she appeared in a number of Hollywood films, including Escape From LA, with Kurt Russell, and Meet The Deedles, with Paul Walker.
Mr Courtenay became the 19th Earl of Devon after his father’s death in 2015 and took over the running of the 14th century Powderham Castle estate, just south of Exeter.
Friends who lived nearby said they thought Mrs Langer had found it a daunting task to leave Los Angeles for South Devon and was shocked by the enormous and expensive maintenance required of a Grade II listed castle.
Charles Courtenay, 19th Earl of Devon and member of the House of Lords, pictured with his wife, AJ Langer, at Powderham Castle in 2016
The couple, pictured here at Powderham Castle, have split after 18 years, citing ‘irreconcilable differences’
AJ Langer rose to fame after appearing as a teenager in the US TV series Baywatch, and also starred in the comedy Meet the Deedles (pictured)
Locals have speculated that the stress of keeping the castle in good condition and the fact that she had moved far from her roots in the United States may have played a role in the decision to part ways.
A source told MailOnline: ‘They were very active in the community and well-liked. Charlie organized many events in the castle to which they invited people. I remember her telling us once, “I hadn’t really negotiated about having a castle.”
‘I think once you understand what a castle is all about, you realize how much work it entails. I remember his father saying it costs over £1 million a year, and I’m sure it’s more now.
‘They had arguments for generations, I remember his mother saying to me, ‘Don’t ever talk to me about the roof’ because it was such a constant stress.
‘You are never done with a castle, they went round and round with maintenance.
“They realized they had to run this like a business. They modernized everything, organized events and set up a farm shop that replaced the village shop, but that must have been a lot of work.
‘They were never the type to stay behind their high walls and never speak to anyone. They have always been part of the community and it is a shame that they are parting ways.”
At the village shop in nearby Starcross, a local said: ‘Coming here must have been a big shock for her as an American and I’m sure she has suffered from homesickness over the years.
Another source said: ‘I think she just missed America, South Devon is very different to California but his roots are here, he’s keeper of Powderham (Castle) so he’s not going there.’
In 2009, Charles’ late father, who was an earl, was forced to auction off family portraits and antiques worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to raise money for the upkeep of his castle.
The Earl of Devon met his future wife at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 2002. She had no idea at the time that the radiant British lawyer – who was on tour with an English rugby club and wearing a kilt – was the heir to a spectacular 4,000 acre estate in the West Country.
They married in 2005 at the family seat and had two children. As part of the divorce, Lord Courtenay has filed for joint custody of Joscelyn, 16, and Jack, 14.
A statement on behalf of the earl said: ‘After much care and consideration, Charles Courtenay, the Earl of Devon, and the Countess of Devon, Allison Joy Courtenay, have made the decision to separate and divorce.
The couple, pictured together at Powderham Castle in Devon, met while the Earl of Devon was in Las Vegas
When they met, she had no idea that the radiant British lawyer (pictured) – who was on tour with an English rugby club and wearing a kilt – was the heir to a spectacular 4,000-acre estate in the West Country.
After they married, they lived in California so Ms. Langer could continue her acting career in Hollywood. Pictured left on the set of The Americans in 2012 and right at New York’s Lincoln Center in 2000
“Charlie would like to express his gratitude for working with AJ and all they have created together as parents, friends and partners, both in Los Angeles and in Powderham.
History of the Earl of Devon’s ancestral castle
Powderham Castle came into the Courtenay family in the dowry of Margaret de Bohun on her marriage to Hugh Courtenay, son of the first Courtenay Earl of Devon, in 1325.
The Courtenays had traveled from France to England during the reign of Henry II and acquired much land and power in the south-west through marriages to wealthy heirs.
The medieval core of the castle was built in the early 14th century by Sir Philip Courtenay.
It has remained in the Courtenay family ever since. It was expanded in the 18th century by acclaimed English architect James Wyatt.
Powderham Castle appears in the Domesday Book, an account of the ‘Great Survey’ of much of England and parts of Wales, made in 1086 on the orders of King William the Conqueror.
For more history, visit: Powderham.nl
“The well-being of their wonderful children is the top priority as he and AJ will focus on co-parenting in the coming years.
“Charlie is grateful for their supportive communities in Devon and California, and he politely requests that his and his family’s privacy be respected at this time.”
Details of the divorce filing were first reported by the Blast website.
The filing stated that the couple had actually separated more than a month ago, on September 30.
After the couple married, they first lived in California so Ms. Langer could pursue her acting career in Hollywood.
But they later moved to Britain, which Ms. Langer said in a podcast had been a challenging transition.
Speaking on the Celebrity Catch Up show, she said: ‘I was a completely independent person from the age of 15.
‘I lived alone for years, traveled a lot alone and always lived to the beat of my own drum.
‘Then I was in the middle of a very intense and very deep-rooted patriarchy.
‘It was really fascinating.’
Lord Courtenay’s father, Hugh Courtenay, 18th Earl of Devon, who also had three older daughters, died in 2015 aged 73.
His son became the 19th Earl and his wife the Countess.
Ms. Langer previously told Breezy Mama, “The whole title thing… I’m not an expert. For some people it means more and for others it means less. It certainly makes for an interesting conversation and an interesting story.”
Ms. Langer, an avid surfer, and Lord Courtenay, a lawyer, had no idea of each other’s backgrounds when their eyes first met across the dance floor of the Las Vegas hotel’s Circle Bar.
‘He was wearing a kilt – on tour with London Scottish Rugby. We smiled at each other in the crowded room…’ Ms Langer said.
She revealed that her future husband did not know she was an actress who had achieved international fame playing Rayanne Graff on the critically acclaimed but short-lived television show My So-Called Life.
AJ Langer, center, starred in Baywatch as a teenager, where she played the role of Caroline Larkin
AJ was probably best known for her role as Rayanne Graff (left) in the 1990s teen drama My So-Called Life
The show – which also featured Claire Danes and Oscar winner Jared Leto in their first major roles – was canceled after just one season.
Meanwhile, she had “no idea about the castle or the titles or anything,” she told Breezy Mama.
She said she only learned about her husband’s aristocratic status “months” into their relationship when he took her to his family’s estate, which is on the west bank of the Exe Estuary.
“I had no idea… until he drove me into the driveway months into our relationship — which was good, because I wouldn’t have known what to do with that information anyway,” she said.
Ms Langer and Courtenay then began dating in Los Angeles, where he was temporarily seconded to a London-based law firm.
In 2007, they welcomed their first child, Lady Joscelyn Skye Courtenay, through a home birth.
Another two years later, their son, Jack Haydon Langer Courtenay, was delivered home.
Mrs. Langer told Breezy Mama that her daughter was named after a member of her husband’s family.
‘Jack is the name of his maternal grandfather – a very special person to Charlie and his inspiration for playing rugby. Without rugby we would never have met in Vegas!’ she added.
From 2005 to 2014, Lord Courtenay – a former Eton student – worked as a lawyer for the Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins.