| Lord Coward |
Guy Ritchie adaptations
|Behind the scenes|
|Appearances||Sherlock Holmes (2009 film)|
|Portrayed by||Hans Matheson|
Lord Coward is the British Home Secretary, a member of the Temple of Four Orders and an ally (in secret) of Lord Blackwood. After revealing his true allegiance following the death of Sir Thomas Rotheram, Coward was shown to be one of Blackwood's most loyal supporters and an accomplice in several of his crimes.
When Sir Thomas, head of the Temple, decided to enlist Sherlock Holmes in stopping Blackwood, both Lord Coward and Ambassador Standish were present. However, unlike Sir Thomas and Standish, Coward is a traitor with a fascination of Blackwood's work. He offered to help Holmes through his position as Home Secretary, which gave him considerable influence over the police. Nonetheless, Holmes refused his offer, saying that while he would stop Blackwood, he would not do it for the order or for a price.
Holmes was soon proven right when Blackwood murdered Sir Thomas in his bath. This event prompted Lord Coward to call a meeting of the Temple to announce the death and propose a new leader. When he nominated Lord Blackwood, Standish called him insane, but was interrupted when Blackwood entered the room. After a short speech in which Blackwood laid out his vision and asked Standish to join him, Standish refused and attempted to shoot Blackwood, only to be suddenly engulfed in flames. Standish jumped out of a window to his death. Afterwards, Blackwood orders the remaining Temple members to drink their loyalty to him, with Lord Coward being first to do so.
Meanwhile, Holmes, who had been steadily working out the pattern behind Blackwood's crimes, is arrested thanks to Coward's influence. Inspector Lestrade, who revealed a Temple pin on his lapel, delivered Holmes to Westminster Palace, intended site of Blackwood's next killing. He brought him to Lord Coward's office, where Coward was preparing for the takeover of government. While Coward was distracted preparing a gun to shoot Holmes, Holmes managed to shut the chimney flue, creating a smokescreen to conceal himself from Coward. While Coward searched for Holmes, Holmes taunted him by telling him that he had figured out where Blackwood's final ceremony was thanks to the mud on his (Coward's) boots and brick dust on his coat. He also revealed that he had deduced from his shoes that Coward had been an accomplice at at least one of Blackwood's sacrifices – the failed one under St Paul's Cathedral – and had likely been present for more. Coward responds that Holmes is too late to stop the mass killing of Parliament, as it will take place only minutes away, at noon. Unfazed, Holmes escapes by jumping out of the window into the River Thames, where Watson, Irene Adler, and Tanner were waiting for him on a small boat. It is revealed that Holmes, working with Lestrade, had allowed himself to be captured in order to obtain just such information.
Undeterred by Holmes' escape, Coward proceeds to the chamber where the House of Lords is meeting and signals the other Temple conspirators to chain and block the doors. He then announces Lord Blackwood, who enters the room from an upper balcony to the incredulity of the assembled lords. Blackwood announces that at the stroke of twelve all those who were not with him would be killed by "dark forces" (in reality a poison gas set to be released at that time). However, Holmes, Watson and Irene had managed to reach the delivery apparatus in time and disable it. When the assembled lords fail to die, Blackwood flees, leaving Coward and the other Temple members to fend for themselves, and Coward is set upon by the crowd while trying to escape. His final fate is unknown.