Monday, 24 September 2012

Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught

Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn

Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert was born in London on 1 May 1850,  the seventh child and third son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  He was apparently Victoria's favourite.  In 1877 he was created Duke of Connaught and Strathearn and Earl of Sussex.

Military Career

He entered the Royal Military College, Woolwich, in 1866 and started his career as a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers. He spent a year with his regiment in Montreal, and served on the Red River expedition of 1870.  In 1871 he was promoted captain in the Rifle Brigade, lieutenant-colonel in 1876 and major-general in  1880.  After serving with the during the Egypt campaign of 1882 in command of the Brigade of Guards (he was at Tell-el-Kebir and was Governor of Cairo), he served in India (Commander-in-Chief Bombay, 1886-1890), Ireland, the Mediterranean and South Africa.  In 1902 he was appointed field marshal and Inspector-General of the Forces.

Governor-General of Canada

Prince Arthur was appointed Governor-General of Canada in 1911, the first member of the royal family to hold the office.  His tenure was dominated by the First World War and the massive contribution the country made to the war effort.

Princes Patricia of Connaught
He was active in auxiliary war services and charities and conducted hospital visits, while the Duchess of Connaught worked for the Red Cross and other organizations to support the war cause. She was also Colonel-in-Chief of the Duchess of Connaught's Own Irish Canadian Rangers battalion, one of the regiments in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.  She also acquired a knitting machine and made socks for the troops.

Their daughter, Princess Patricia, lent her name and support to the raising of a new Canadian army regiment -- Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.  As the regiment's Colonel-in-Chief, she played an active role in the regiment until her death in 1974.

Connaught's tenure as  Governor-General came to an end in 1916.  The Prime Minister, Robert Borden, gave a mixed review of him, considering that he over-stepped his constitional role, having 'laboured under the handicap of his position as a member of the Royal Family and never realised his limitations as Governor General.'  He was succeeded by an experience politician, the Duke of Devonshire.

After Canada

Prince Arthur continued to carry out duties as a minor royal he withdrew from public duties in 1928.  He was a freemason, being Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, 1901-1939.  He was president of the Boy Scouts Association.  He died at his home, Bagshot Park, on 16 Jan 1942, aged 91 years and 8 months.  He was succeeded by his grandson Alastair who died in shady circumstances the following year - the title becoming extinct.


On 13 Mar 1879 Connaught married, Princess Lousie Margaret of Prussia, daughter of Prince Frederick Karl of Prussia (who is said to have beaten her mother so hard for giving birth to a daughter as to permanently deafen her).  The Duchess died of influenza at Clarence House on 14 Mar 1917.  She was the first member of the royal family to be cremated, and was interred at Frogmore.

They had three children: Princess Margaret (1882-1920),  Prince Arthur (1883-1938), and Princess Patricia (1886-1974).

Princess Margaret married Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden in 1905, becoming Crown Princess in 1907 when his father acceded to the throne.  Gustaf succeeded his father in 1950, but Margaret had died in 1920.  Her grandchildren include King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Queen (consort) Anne-Marie of Greece.

Prince Arthur served as an army officer in the Boer War and First World War, reaching the rank of major-general.  He married his cousin, Princess Alexandra, Duchess of Fife, in 1913.  He was Governor-General of South Africa, 1920-1924, and died in 1938.

Princess Patricia married Capt (later Adm Sir) Alexander Ramsey, son of the Earl of Dalhousie, and an aide-de-camp of her fathers' in 1919.  She relinquished her royal titles

The Orders and Medals

From the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:-
The duke had received every order which it had been in the power of his mother to bestow, and had received further decorations from Edward VII and George V, and from many foreign powers. He presided over many organizations, including the Royal Society of Arts, the Boy Scouts' Association, and the united lodge of freemasons, and was colonel of three, and colonel-in-chief of nineteen, army regiments.
Order of the Garter  Knight Companion (KG), 31 May 1867

Order of the Thistle Knight Companion (KT), 24 May 1869

Order of St Patrick Knight Companion (KP), 30 March 1869

Order of the Bath
  • Companion, Military Division (CB), 17 November 1882
  • Knight Commander, Military Division (KCB), 8 July 1890
  • Knight Grand Cross, Military Division (GCB), 21 May 1898
 Served as Great Master of the Order from 26 February 1901 to his death in 1942

Order of the Star of India Extra Knight Grand Commander (GCSI), 1 January 1877

Order of St Michael and St George Knight Grand Cross (GCMG), 16 April 1870

Order of the Indian Empire Extra Knight Grand Commander (GCIE), 21 June 1887

Royal Victorian Order
Order of the British Empire
  • Knight Grand Cross (GBE), 4 June 1917
Venerable Order of St John
  • Knight of Justice (KStJ), before 1896
  • Bailiff Grand Cross (GCStJ), 12 June 1926
Bailiff of Egle from 1894 and Grand Prior of the Order from 23 June 1910 to 1939.

Campaign medals

Canadian General Service Medal with clasp for Fenian Raid 1870
Egypt Medal with clasp for Battle of Tel el-Kebir 1882

Long service medals

Volunteer Officers' Decoration (VD), 1892
Territorial Decoration (TD), 1934

Foreign Orders and Awards 

1865 Grand Cordon, the Order of Glory (Nishan al-Iftikhar) (Tunis)
1867 Imperial Order of the Osmans (Nishan-i-Osmanieh), 1st class in brilliants (Turkey)
1872 Knight, the Order of the Black Eagle (Prussia)
1873 Grand Cross, the Order of the Red Eagle (Prussia)
1873 Grand Cross, the Order of Leopold (mil) (Belgium)
1873 Grand Cross, the Royal Hungarian Order of St Stephen (Hungary)
1873 Knight, the Royal Order of the Seraphim (Sweden)
1873 Knight, the Order of the Elephant (Denmark)
1876 Grand Cross with Collar, the Most Distinguished Order of Carlos III (Spain)
1878 Knight Grand Cross, the Order of the Netherlands Lion (Netherlands)
1879 Grand Cross, the Order of the Redeemer (Greece)
1882 The Order 'Pour le Merite' (Prussia)
1882 The Imperial Order of Nobility (Nishan-i-Majidieh), 2nd class (Turkey)
Grand Cross, the Order of Military Merit (Spain)
1890 Grand Cordon, the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum (Japan)
1897 Grand Cross, the Order of Danilo (Montenegro)
1898 Grand Cordon, the Order of the Legion of Honour (French Republic)
Knight, the Supreme Order of the Annunziata (Italy)
Knight Grand Cross, the Order of SS Maurice & Lazarus (Italy)
1902 Knight, the Order of the Golden Fleece (Spain)
Commander Grand Cross, the Royal Order of the Sword (Sweden)
1905 Knight, the Order of Charles XII (Sweden)
1906 Knight, the House Order of Fidelity (Baden)
1906 Grand Cross with Collar, the Order of St Olav (Norway)
1917    Knight Grand Cross, the Military Order of Savoy (Italy)
Grand Cross, the Order of the Star of Ethiopia
Grand Cross, the Order of the Crown (Rumania)
Grand Cross, the Order of St Charles (Monaco)

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