Prince Arthur of Connaught (Arthur Frederick Patrick Albert; January 13, 1883 – September 1938) was a British military officer and a grandson of Queen Victoria. He served as Governor-General of the Union of South Africa from 20 November 1920 to 21 January 1924.
Prince Arthur was born on January 13, 1883 at Windsor Castle. His father was Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, third son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. His mother was the former Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia.
Arthur was baptised in the Private Chapel of Windsor Castle on February 16, 1883, and his godparents were Queen Victoria (his paternal grandmother), the German Empress (his great-great aunt, for whom his paternal aunt Princess Beatrice stood proxy), Prince Friedrich Leopold of Prussia (his maternal uncle, who was represented by the German Ambassador Count Münster), Princess Henry of the Netherlands (his maternal aunt, who was represented by Countess Münster), the Duke of Cambridge (the Queen’s cousin), and the Duke of Edinburgh (his paternal uncle, whose brother the Prince of Wales represented him).
The Duke and Duchess of Connaught with their children: Prince Arthur, Princess Margaret (taller) and Princess Victoria Patricia
Arthur was the first British royal prince to be educated at Eton College. He was known to his family as “young Arthur” to distinguish him from his father.
Prince Arthur was educated at Eton College, but left there early to join the Royal Military College, Sandhurst at the age of sixteen years and two months. From there he was commissioned into the 7th (Queen’s Own) Hussars as a second lieutenant in May 1901.
He saw his first active posting the following year. After the end of the Second Boer War in June 1902, most of the British troops left South Africa, but the 7th Hussars were posted there to keep the peace. Prince Arthur and 230 men of his regiment left Southampton in the SS Ortona in October 1902, and arrived at Cape Town later the same month.
Prince Arthur spent several months stationed at Krugersdorp. In 1907, he was promoted to the rank of captain in the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys). He became the honorary Colonel-in-Chief of this regiment in 1920.
During the First World War, Prince Arthur served as aide-de-camp to Generals Sir John French and Sir Douglas Haig, the successive commanders of the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1919 and became a colonel in the reserves in 1922.
In October 1922, Prince Arthur was promoted to the honorary rank of major general and became an aide-de-camp to his first cousin, King George V.
Prince Arthur of Connaught and Princess Alexandra, 2nd Duchess of Fife
Since the king’s children were too young to undertake public duties until after the First World War, Prince Arthur carried out a variety of ceremonial duties at home and overseas.
On October 15, 1913, Prince Arthur married his cousin Princess Alexandra, 2nd Duchess of Fife (May 17, 1891 – February 26, 1959) at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace, London.
Princess Alexandra was the eldest daughter and heir of the Alexander Duff, 1st Duke of Fife and Louise the Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of King Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark. As such, the couple were first cousins once removed. They had a son, Alastair.
The couple were attended by five bridesmaids: The Princess Mary, Princess Maud of Fife, Princesses Mary, Helena, and May of Teck.
After the accession of his cousin, King George V, Prince Arthur and his aging father were the most senior male members of the Royal Family over the age of 18 to reside in the United Kingdom. As such, he undertook a wide variety of royal duties on behalf of the King, and acted as a Counsellor of State during periods of the King’s absence abroad.
In 1906, by order of the King, he vested the Meiji Emperor of Japan with the Order of the Garter, as a consequence of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. In 1918, he was a guest aboard the Japanese battlecruiser Kirishima when she voyaged from Japan to Canada. He visited Tokyo and then Nagoya and was welcomed at Tsuruma Park and the Buntenkaku, and then traveled on to Kyoto.
In 1920, Prince Arthur succeeded Viscount Buxton as governor-general and commander-in-chief in South Africa. The Earl of Athlone succeeded him in these posts in 1924. Upon returning to Britain, Prince Arthur became involved in a number of charitable organizations, including serving as chairman of the board of directors of Middlesex Hospital. Like his father, the Duke of Connaught, he was active in the Freemasons, becoming Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire in 1924.
Prince Arthur of Connaught died of stomach cancer at age 55 on September 12, 1938. He is buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore. One of his last public appearances was at the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in May 1937. His father, the Duke of Connaught, survived him by four years.
Prince Arthur’s only son, Alistair, who used the courtesy title Earl of MacDuff after 1917, succeeded his paternal grandfather as 2nd Duke of Connaught and Strathearn and Earl of Sussex in 1942.
Although Alistair was born a Prince of the United Kingdom with the style His Highness in 1914 he lost that title in 1917.
In letters patent dated November 20, 1917, George V undertook further restructuring of the royal styles and titles by restricting the titles of Prince or Princess and the style of Royal Highness to the children of the sovereign, the children of the sovereign’s sons, and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.
This excluded Alastair, who was a great-grandson of a former sovereign but was not the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. It further stated that all titles of “the grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes.”