On This Day: Two British Royal Deaths
Today, January 16, marks the death anniversaries of two members of the British Royal Family – Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn and Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone.
In 1942, Prince Arthur – the third son of Queen Victoria – passed away at his country home, Bagshot Park, at the age of 91. Born in May 1850, Arthur spent four decades serving in the British Army. He trained in the United Kingdom as a teenager, before he was posted to a number of overseas locations over the years, including Canada, South Africa and India. The pinnacle of Prince Arthur’s military career came when he was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal in 1902.
Prince Arthur, ca 1890
The Prince, who had been made Duke of Connaught and Strathearn in 184, married was married in March 1879 to Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia, with whom he had three children: Margaret, Arthur and Patricia. It is through his elder daughter, who married the Crown Prince of Sweden, that Prince Arthur is an ancestor of the Swedish, Danish and Greek royal families.
Prince Arthur inspects troops, 1917
From October 1911 to November 1916, Arthur held the post of Governor-General of Canada, a nation he had travelled extensively on behalf of his monarchs. He was held in high regard by the Canadians from his first visit, as was his youngest daughter, Princess Patricia, who lived with her parents in Canada during the Duke’s tenure. Following his return to England, the Duke continued to undertake public engagements on behalf of his nephew, George V, though by the 1930s had withdrawn almost completely from public view.
Prince Arthur is buried at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore.
Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, ca 1915
Fifteen years later, in 1957, another royal Governor-General of Canada passed away at Kensington Palace: Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone (formerly Prince Alexander of Teck). The Earl was born in 1874 as the youngest child of Francis, Duke of Teck and his wife, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. He studied at Eton College before military training at the Royal Military College Sandhurst, which was the beginning of a successful military career.
Alexander served with the British Army in three major conflicts: the Second Matabele War, the Second Boer War and the First World War. During the First World War, he served on the frontline in France and Flanders. His military actions earned him two orders from Queen Victoria and King George V: becoming a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1898, and a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1917.
The Earl of Athlone, 1937
In February 1904, he married Princess Alice of Albany, his second cousin once removed and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. The couple had three children: May, Rupert and Maurice. In 1917, following the lead of his brother-in-law, King George V, Alexander relinquished his German princely title as a result of anti-German feeling among the British public. A short while later, the King gave Alexander the title Earl of Athlone.
Retiring from the British Army after the war, Alexander would become first the Governor-General of the Union of South Africa in 1923, before becoming the Governor-General of Canada in 1940. As his posting to Canada came during the Second World War, the Earl spent much of his time there visiting troops at training facilities or hospitals. He also hosted a number of foreign royals at Rideau Hall, the Governor-General of Canada’s residence, as they spent the war in exile (these included Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and the Crown Prince of Norway). The Earl was also host to Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin D Roosevelt when they visited Quebec for the Quebec Conferences.
The Earl (front right) with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Prime Minister William Mckenzie King, 1943
One of the Earl of Athlone’s last major public acts of service was sitting on the organising committee for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, his great-niece, in 1953.
Like Prince Arthur, the Earl was buried at the Frogmore Royal Burial Ground.
Alexander and Alice on their wedding day, 1904Filed under Germany, Historical Royals, The United Kingdom
Tagged Alexander Cambridge 1st Earl of Athlone, Anniversary, Biography, Death, Prince Arthur Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, Teck.