Earl of Devon separated from AJ Langer 'after her homesickness'

EXCLUSIVE: Earl of Devon Charles Courtenay separated from his former Baywatch star wife AJ Langer after ‘years of her struggling with homesickness and the stress of maintaining their 600-acre estate’, friends claim

  • The couple’s split was revealed yesterday, citing ‘irreconcilable differences’ 

The Earl of Devon could have separated from his former Baywatch star wife following years of her struggling with homesickness and the stress of maintaining their 600-acre estate, friends have claimed.

Charles Courtenay, 48, announced his divorce from Ohio-born AJ Langer, 49, after 18 years citing ‘irreconcilable differences’. They say they are now focused on the ‘wellbeing of their wonderful children’.

Ms Langer, who played Caroline Larkin in Baywatch as a teenager, was also in 1990s teen drama hit My So-Called Life and The Wonder Years. In later life, she starred in a number of Hollywood movies including Escape From LA, with Kurt Russell, and Meet The Deedles, featuring Paul Walker.

Mr Courtenay became the 19th Earl of Devon following his father’s death in 2015 and took over the running of 14th Century Powderham Castle estate, just south of Exeter.

Friends living nearby said they believe Ms Langer had found it a ‘wrench’ to swap Los Angeles for South Devon and was shocked by the vast and costly maintenance required for a Grade 1 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 ‘irreconcible differences’

AJ Langer shot to fame after appearing on US TV series Baywatch as a teenager, and also starred in comedy Meet the Deedles (pictured)

Locals have speculated that the stress of keeping the castle in good shape and the fact she had moved far from her roots in the United States, may have played a part in the decision to separate. 

A source told MailOnline: ‘They were very active in the community and well liked. Charlie held lots of events at the castle that they would invite people to. I remember on one occasion she told us ‘I didn’t really bargain on having a castle’.

‘I think once you get into the idea of what a castle is about you realise how much work is involved. I remember his father saying it costs over £1million a year and I’m sure it’s more now.

‘They’ve had struggles for generations, I remember his mum saying to me ‘don’t ever talk to me about the roof’ because it was such a constant stress.

READ MORE HERE:  Charles Courtenay and AJ Langer announce their split after 18 years and say ‘wellbeing’ of their two children is now the ‘highest priority’ 

‘With a castle you’re never done with it, they went round and round with maintenance.

‘They realised they have to conduct this like a business. They have modernised things, organised events and set up a farm shop which has replaced the village store but it will have been a lot of work.

‘They were never the type to just stay behind their high walls and never speak to anybody, they have always been part of the community and it’s a shame they are separating.’

At the village shop in nearby Starcross, one local said: ‘Coming over here must’ve been a big wrench for her as an American and I’m sure she was affected by homesickness over the years.

Another source said: ‘I think she was just missing America, South Devon is very different to California but his roots are here, he is custodian of Powderham [Castle] so he isn’t going over there.’

In 2009 Charles’s late father who was earl was forced to auction family portraits and antiques worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to raise funds 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. At the time she had no idea that the beaming British lawyer – who was on tour with an English rugby union club and wearing a kilt – was the heir to a spectacular 4,000-acre estate in the West Country.

They got married in 2005 at the family’s seat and went on to have two children. As part of the divorce, Lord Courtenay has requested 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 Countess of Devon, Allison Joy Courtenay, have made the decision to separate and to 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 beaming British lawyer (pictured) – who was on tour with an English rugby union club and wearing a kilt – was the heir to a spectacular 4,000-acre estate in the West Country

After getting married, they lived in California so Ms Langer could continue her Hollywood acting career. Pictured left on the set of The Americans in 2012 and right at the Lincoln Center in New York in 2000

‘Charlie would like to express his gratitude for his partnership with AJ and all that they have created together as parents, friends and partners both in Los Angeles and at Powderham.

History of 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, the son of the first Courtenay Earl of Devon, in 1325.

The Courtenays had travelled to England from France in the reign of Henry II and had acquired many lands and power in the South West by marriages to wealthy heiresses.

The castle’s medieval core was built by Sir Philip Courtenay in the early 1400s.

It has remained in the Courtenay family ever since. It was expanded by acclaimed English architect James Wyatt in the 18th century.

Powderham Castle features in the Domesday Book, a record of the ‘Great Survey’ of much of England and areas of Wales, made in 1086 on the orders of King William the Conqueror.

For more history, visit: Powderham.co.uk

‘The wellbeing of their wonderful children is the highest priority, as he and AJ focus upon co-parenting in the years ahead.

‘Charlie is grateful for their supportive communities in Devon and in California, and he politely requests that his and his family’s privacy is respected at this time.’

Details of the divorce filing were first reported by the Blast website.

The application said the couple had actually separated over a month ago on September 30.

After the pair wed, they first lived in California so that Ms Langer could continue her Hollywood acting career.

But they later moved to the UK, which Ms Langer hinted in a podcast had been a challenging transition.

Speaking to the Celebrity Catch Up show, she said: ‘I was a completely independent person from the age of 15.

‘I lived alone for many years and travelled alone a lot and always went to the beat of my own drum.

‘Then here I was in the middle of really intense and very, very deep-rooted patriarchy.

‘It has been really fascinating.’

Lord Courtenay’s father, Hugh Courtenay, 18th Earl of Devon, who also had three older daughters, died aged 73 in 2015.

His son became the 19th Earl and his wife the Countess.

Ms Langer previously told Breezy Mama: ‘The whole title thing… I am no expert. It means more to some people and less to others. It definitely makes for interesting conversation, and an interesting story.’

Ms Langer, a keen surfer, and Lord Courtenay, a barrister, had no idea of each other’s backgrounds when their eyes first met across the dance floor at the Las Vegas hotel’s Circle Bar.

‘He was wearing a kilt – on tour with London Scottish Rugby. We smiled at each other across the crowded room…’ Ms Langer said.

She revealed that her future husband was not aware she was an actress who had gained international fame playing Rayanne Graff on the critically acclaimed but short-lived television show My So-Called Life.

AJ Langer, centre, 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 1990s teen drama My So-Called Life

The show – which also starred Claire Danes and Oscar-winner Jared Leto in their first major roles – was cancelled after just one season.

Meanwhile, she had ‘no idea about the castle or titles or anything’, she told Breezy Mama.

READ MORE HERE:  Baywatch star AJ Langer who became a Countess after her husband Charles Courtenay’s father died reveals moving to a castle was ‘a bit overwhelming’ 

She said she only found out about her husband’s aristocratic status ‘months’ into their relationship when he drove her to his family’s estate, which sits on the west bank of the Exe estuary.

‘I had no idea… until he drove me up the driveway months into our relationship – which was good ’cause I wouldn’t have known what to do with that information anyway,’ she said.

Ms Langer and Courtenay subsequently started dating in Los Angeles – where he was temporarily posted with a London-based law firm.

In 2007, they welcomed their first child, Lady Joscelyn Skye Courtenay, via a home birth.

Another two years later, their son, Jack Haydon Langer Courtenay, was delivered at home.

Ms Langer told Breezy Mama her daughter was named after a member of her husband’s family.

‘Jack is his grandfather’s name on his mother’s side – a very special person to Charlie and his inspiration for playing rugby. Without rugby we never would have met in Vegas!’ she added.

From 2005 until 2014, Lord Courtenay – a former Eton pupil – worked as a barrister for the Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins.

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