On January 16, in 1942, Arthur, Duke of Connaught died at Bagshot Park in Surrey, the current home of Edward, Earl of Wessex and his family. Arthur was the third son, seventh child of Queen Victoria and her husband, Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the Prince Consort. As a member of the British royal family and the British Army, he held a number of posts throughout the Empire, most notably as the Governor General of Canada from 1911-1916, covering the first two years of World War I.
Arthur was born at Buckingham Palace in London on May 1, 1850. At the time of his birth his parents had been married for 10 years and his mother had been queen for 13. During his childhood, the royal family established a familiar domestic routine, moving between Buckingham Palace in London, Osborne House on the Isle Wight and Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. In 1866 he enrolled at the Royal Military College at Woolwich, from which he graduated two years later, before moving on to the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Rifle Brigade. As an army officer, he would go on to serve throughout the Empire, including stints in South Africa, India, Canada, Egypt and Ireland.
He was promoted to the honorary rank of Colonel in 1871, Lieutenant-Colonel in 1876, Colonel in 1880 and General in 1893. From 1886 to 1890, he served as Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay army. Notably, in 1870, while working in Canada, he made a visit to the United States, meeting President Ulysses S. Grant in Washington, D.C.
Rumored to be Queen Victoria’s favorite son, Arthur was made the Duke of Connaught on her birthday, May 24, in 1874. Five years later, Arthur married Princess Louise of Prussia, a great-niece of Wilhelm I, Emperor of Germany (and one of Arthur’s godfathers) at Windsor Castle. The couple would go on to have three children – Margaret, Arthur and Patricia – two of whom would predecease their father.
His eldest daughter, Margaret, born in 1882 and known as “Daisy,” would marry Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden, heir to the Swedish throne, in 1905. Unfortunately Daisy died on May 1, 1920, her father’s birthday, in Stockholm, 30 years before her husband ascended the throne. He would go on to marry Lady Louise Mountbatten, a paternal cousin of Daisy’s, three years later.
Arthur, his father’s only son and heir, married his first cousin, Lady Alexandra Duff, heiress to her father’s title, the dukedom of Fife, and daughter of Louise, the Princess Royal, and eldest daughter of Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Edward VII. The couple married in 1913 at the Chapel Royal in St. James’s Palace and remained so until Arthur’s death in 1938.
Arthur’s youngest child, Patricia, known as “Patsy,” was considered one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe when she came of age. There was speculation during the reign of her uncle, Edward VII, that she would marry into the royal houses of Spain, Portugal and Russia, however she ended up choosing one of her father’s aides-de-camp, Alexander Ramsay, for whom she relinquished her HRH and the title of princess. Following her marriage in 1919, she was known as Lady Patrica Ramsay, though she was an active member of the British royal family until her death in 1974.
Following his service in Canada as Lieutenant General from 1911-1916 during the reign of his nephew, George V, Arthur returned to England. He continued to carry out engagements on behalf of the family until the 1930s, though he largely retired from public life after the death of his wife, Louise, in 1917. He would continue to serve in the military, however, until his death in 1942, during World War II.
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