Lord Strathcona was the eldest son of The 3rd Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal and his wife, The Hon. Diana Evelyn Loder, daughter of The 1st Baron Wakehurst. He was educated at King's Mead, Seaford, Eton College, Trinity College, Cambridge, and McGill University, Montreal. He served in the Royal Navy from 1942 to 1947, achieving the rank of Lieutenant.
He succeeded his father in the barony in 1959 and took his seat on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords. He served under Edward Heath as a Lord-in-Waiting (government whip in the House of Lords) from June 1973 to January 1974, and briefly as Under-Secretary of State for the Air Force from January to March 1974. After the Conservatives lost power in March 1974 he was Joint Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords between 1976 and 1979. When the Conservatives returned to office in May 1979 under Margaret Thatcher, he was appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, a post he held until 1981. He lost his seat in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999.
Strathcona married firstly Lady Jane Mary Waldegrave, daughter of The 12th Earl Waldegrave, in 1954. They had two sons and four daughters:
The marriage ended in divorce in June 1977. Strathcona married secondly Patricia (née Thomas), widow of John Middleton, in February 1978.
He was succeeded to the barony by his eldest son, Donald Alexander Euan Howard, in 2018.