Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The (Other) Duke of Cambridge

Field Marshal HRH Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Tipperary and Baron Culloden,  Prince of Hanover and Duke of Brunswick and Lünenburg

Early Life and Connections

Prince George was born on 26 March 1819.  He was the eldest child and only son of  Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, the tenth child of George III, and Princess Augusta, a descendent of George II .   A proper Hanoverian, he was even born there, as his father served as viceroy for his brothers.  The family moved back to England in 1837, when the accession of George's cousin Victoria to the British throne led to the separation of the two crowns.  He succeed to the Dukedom on his father's death in 1850.

His sister, Princess Mary Adelaide ('Fat Mary'), was the mother of Mary of Teck, later George V's queen consort. 

Military Career

George followed his father into the army, moving quickly up the ranks - by 1837 he was a colonel in both the Hanoverian and British Armies.  But his was no honorary position - he was stationed at Gibraltar, in Ireland and in the Ionian Islands.  Prince George was appointed Inspector of the Cavalry in 1852.
In 1854 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general, in command of the 1st Division (Guards and Highland brigades), serving in the Crimean War.  He was present at the battles of the Alma, Balaclava and Inkerman (where his horse was shot under him) and at the siege of Sevastopol.  He received the thanks of Parliament.

'The grand charge of the Guards on the Heights of the Alma, Sept. 20th, 1854'

In July 1856, the Duke was appointed general commanding-in-chief of the British Army, a post that was retitled field marshal commanding-in-chief on him gaining that rank in 1862, and commander-in-chief of the forces in 1887.   He served as commander-in-chief for 39 years.  He was finally forced out office in 1895 after years of opposing army reform - 'There is a time for everything, and the time for change is when you can no longer help it.'

The Duke of Cambridge served as colonel-in-chief of the 17th Lancers, Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers; the The Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own) and King's Royal Rifle Corps; colonel of the Grenadier Guards; honorary colonel of the 10th (Duke of Cambridge’s Own) Bengal Lancers, 20th Duke of Cambridge's Own Punjabis, 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment, 1st City of London Volunteer Brigade and the Scots Fusilier Guards.   He became governor of the Royal Military Academy in 1862, and its president in 1870.   He was the patron of the Oxford Military College from 1876-1896.

The duke died in London on 17 March 1904, the last surviving grandson of George III.  He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.

The Duke of Cambridge's tomb in Kensal Green Cemetery

The Orders and Medals

HRH wears his medals in a Victorian way. His campaign medals are up in his collar and his order stars where a modern soldier would put his medals. This isn't just a one-off or due to the constraints of the jacket he is wearing, as can be seen in most portraits of him.

The orders and medals are, along with his field marshal's baton, uniform and other items in the Guards' Museum, Wellington Barracks, London.

The Medals

Cambridge wears the campaign medal for Crimea with four clasps (Alma, Balaklava, Inkerman, Sebastopol), he also has the Turkish Crimea Medal.

The Orders

Following regulations for wear, Cambridge only has four stars in each picture.

In both portraits he wears the blue sash of the the Garter with the star in the 'North' position.  It appears to differ slightly in design from the C19th example shown here.

He was created a knight of the Garter in 1835.

At his neck he wears the badge of a GCMG.  The star is in the 'West' position of the photograph and the 'East' of the miniature.  He was Grand Master of the Order from 1850 to his death in 1904, becoming a GCMG in 1877.

At the 'South' of the arrangement is the star of the GCB (military division).

At the  'East' in the photograph is the star of a KP.

To the 'West' in the miniature is the star of the GCSI.  Cambridge was created a GCSI in 1877.

However, Cambridge had plenty of stars in the box.  He acquired a full set of British orders.  He was

KG: Knight of the Garter
KT: Knight of the Thistle 
KP: Knight of St Patrick
GCH: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order
GCB: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath 
GCSI: Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India
GCMG: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
GCIE: Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire   - He was one of the first seven GCIEs in created June 1887 (previously there had only been CIEs and KCIEs).
GCVO: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order - created 1897 (to mark the Diamond Jubilee?)
KJStJ: Knight of Justice of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem 

Additionally, he held several foreign orders.


  1. I have a quick question. Do you know if there was anyone else who "collected" as many knighthoods as the Hanoverian Duke of Cambridge - showing here as 10 !!!?

    Cheers from Bryce in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada

    1. Good question. Looking into it, only the Duke of Windsor seems to equal him. George VI only had six before his accession. The current queen only had two dame grades before accession.

      In a way Prince George was lucky in that he spanned the period where the Guelphic Order was a British one and the establishment of the Indian orders.

      I thought Prince Albert might be a contender, but he 'only' has six. Neither Prince Phillip or Prince Charles come close.

      Of Victoria's children, Prince Alfred has eight and Prince Arthur nine (interestingly, neither had the OM). Even Edward only reached nine.

      As to non-royals, Field Marshal Lord Roberts is often cited as having the most post-nominals, but only six of those are knighthoods (plus the VC, OM and VD). Lord Mountbatten had five (plus the OM and DSO), other viceroys seem to max out at four.

      Hope this helps.

    2. Thanks Edwin,
      Yes I guess timing is everything!
      Today, I guess the most one could hope to obtain is 5 - KG, KT, GCB, GCMG, GCVO + maybe one more for KStJ (which I am not sure counts as a full fledged knighthood - correct me if I am wrong). I can't see any of the Irish, Indian or Guelphic orders being offered up in the near future.

      Oh no should be 6 + 1 - I forgot the GBE which was not est. during the old Duke's lifetime.

      Yes, it looks like Edward VIII is the closest comparable with a swap-out of the GCH for the GBE.
      Thanks for looking into this... may make an interesting Top Ten List!

      Oh I just thought maybe is should be 6 + 1 forgot the GBE which had not been est. during the Duke's life.

  2. Former Governor-General of Australia Sir Ninian Stephen had 5 knighthoods: KG AK GCMG GCVO KBE + KStJ. The Australian knighthood was short-lived even in his time but still an impressive set in the modern era.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...