Sir Bernard was educated at Ampleforth College, Ampleforth, Yorkshire. He graduated from McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, CanadaG, with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and also from Birmingham University, with a Master of Arts (M.A.) He later succeeded in gaining a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from Lancaster University.
He was awarded the Knight of Honour and Devotion, Sovereign Military Order of Malta in 1980 and the Knight Grand Cross, Constantinian Order of St George in 1984.
He held the office of Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.) of Lancashire in 1988 and the office of U.N. Special Ambassador in 1995.
Sir Bernard married Rosanna Stella Virginia Buratti, daughter of Terzo Buratti, on 14 September 1974.