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Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught

Dated October 30th, 1869, by Notman

Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (Arthur William Patrick Albert Wettin1) (1 May 1850 - 16 January, 1942) was the third son and the seventh child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

His Royal Highness Field Marshal The Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert, KG, KT, KP, GCMG, PC, GCEI, GCB (mil.), GBE (mil.), Royal Victorian Chain, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn and Earl of Sussex was born at Buckingham Palace. Like his elder brothers, he received his early education from tutors. Prince Arthur became interested in the army at early age. In 1866, he entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and received a commission as a lieutenant in the Corp of Royal Engineers two years later. He later transfered to the Royal Regiment of Artillery and then to the Royal Rifle Brigrade.

His mother's favourite, Prince Arthur was created Duke of Connaught2 and Strathearn and made a Knight of the Thistle on 24 May 1874. Earlier, Queen Victoria made him a Knight of the Garter on 24 May 1867; a Knight of the Order of St. Patrick on 30 March 1869; a Knight of the Order of St. Michael and St. George on 16 April 1870; and a Knight of the Order of the Indian Empire on 21 June 1887. He became the Grand Master and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Bath in May 1898. The Duke of Connaught was a member of the Privy Council for Great Britain from May 1871 and of the Privy Council for Ireland from 1900. His brother King Edward VII granted him the Royal Victorian Chain in August 1902 and his nephew King George V created him a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in May 1917. The Duke of Connaught had a long and distinguished career in the British Army that included service in South Africa, Canada, during the Red River Rebellion of 1870, Ireland, Egypt in 1882 and in India from 1886 to 1890. On 1 April1893, he was promoted to the rank of general. The Duke had hoped to succeed his first cousin once-removed, the elderly Duke of Cambridge, as commander-in-chief of the British Army, upon the latter's forced retirement in 1895. However, this was denied to him. Instead, he held command in the southern district of Aldershot from 1893 to 1898. The Duke of Connaught became a Field Marshal on 26 June 1902. He served in various important positions thereafter, as Commander-in-Chief in Ireland (1900-1904); Inspector-General of the Forces (1904-1907), and as Governor-General of Canada (1911-1916).

On 13 March 1879, the Duke of Connaught married Princess Louise Marguerite of Prussia, the daguther of Prince Friedrich of Prussia and a grand-niece of the German Emperor Wilhelm I, at St. George's Chapel, Windsor. The couple had three children - two daughters (Princess Margaret of Connaught and Princess Patricia of Connaught, and one son, Prince Arthur of Connaught. The Duke and Duchess of Connaught acquired Bagshot Park in Surrey as their country home and after 1900 used Clarence House as their London residence.

In 1899, the Duke of Connaught came into direct line of succession to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in Germany, upon the death of his nephew, the only son of his elder brother, the Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. He decided, however, to renounce his own and his son's succession rights to the duchy, which then passed to his nephew, Prince Charles Edward, the posthumous son of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany.

During the Duke's term of office as govenor-general, Sir Robert Borden was Prime Minister and Canada continued to grow and mature as a nation. In 1914, however, World War I gave Canada one of its greatest challenges. The call to arms as a colony of Britain between 1914 and 1918 taxed Canada's human and physical resources. At the same time, it was a chance to strengthen Canadian nationalism and to create a larger role for Canada internationally. Against the background of war, the Duke of Connaught stressed the importance of Canadian military contributions, but also sought to enhance charity at home. The Connaughts also made an effort to contribute to the social life of the capital, making Rideau Hall a major site for events for Canadians from across the country.

The Duke of Connaught went to his office in the East Block of Parliament Hill daily when he was in Ottawa. He also travelled throughout Canada with his family, meeting all kinds of Canadians, who received them with great enthusiasm. Port Arthur, now part of Thunder Bay, Ontario, was named in his honour. He emphasized military training and readiness for Canadian troops departing for war, and gave his name to Connaught Cup for the Royal North West Mounted Police, to encourage pistol marksmanship for recruits, a competition originally established in 1912 as the Revolver Challenge Cup. 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.

Their daughter, Princess Patricia, also lent her name and support to the raising of a new Canadian army regiment -- Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. Princess Patricia personally designed its badge and colours for the regiment to take overseas to France. As the regiment's Colonel-in-Chief, she played an active role in the regiment until her death. She was succeeded in 1974 by her cousin and god-daughter the Rt. Hon. Lady Patricia Brabourne, who became the Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

For Christmas in 1915, the Duchess sent a card and a box of maple sugar to every Canadian serving overseas. She also had a knitting machine on which she made thousands of pairs of socks for soldiers. The Duke of Connaught and his family grieved the loss of many of their personal staff serving overseas during the war. Following the war, he commissioned a stained glass window in their memory which is located in St. Bartholomew's Church next to Rideau Hall, which the family attended regularly.

Princess Patricia was an avid skater and became a society favourite in Ottawa. She started a tradition of dress dinners where guests arrived in various national dress and she hosted numerous skating parties at Rideau Hall. With her husband, she held many fancy dress balls and organized huge children's parties, and he continued the 'Lord Grey Competitions for Music and Drama'. In September of 1916, he laid the cornerstone for the new Parliament buildings in Ottawa, after the old building was almost completely destroyed by fire in February of the same year.

Many improvements were made to Rideau Hall during the Connaughts' term. The present facade, which includes the Royal Coat of Arms carved in stone, was added to the front of the building. The Long Gallery was built, the greenhouse was extended, and a new cloakroom also added. A police guardhouse, the present three-car garage, and a second staff residence were also added to the grounds, in addition to the hundreds of deciduous trees that were planted.

As his term drew to a close in 1916, he publicly stated his regret on leaving Canada, as he and his family had grown very comfortable there. While his chief interest was always the army, the Duke was also an avid gardener and was a Freemason, becoming Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge in 1901. He served as the Grand Prior of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem from 1901 until his death.

After his term at Rideau Hall, the Duke of Connaught returned to military service for the remainder of the war. The Duchess, who had been ill during their years at Rideau Hall, died in March 1917. The Duke withdrew from public life in 1928, and died 14 years later at Bagshot Park in 1942, at the age of 92. He was succeeded (briefly) in his dukedom by his grandson, Alastair Arthur Windsor, 2nd Duke of Connaught, the son of Prince Arthur and his wife, Princess Alexandra, Duchess of Fife, a granddaughter of King Edward VII.


1 Though the name of the Royal House was Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the actual family name, as told to Queen Victoria when she had the issue looked into, was Wettin.

1 The title Duke of Connaught owed its origins to Ireland's membership of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1922. By tradition members of the sovereign's family received titles associated with England, Scotland and Ireland, the three kingdoms that made up the United Kingdom.

Adapted from

Preceded by:
Earl Grey
Governor General of Canada Followed by:
Duke of Devonshire
Preceded by:
New Creation
Duke of Connaught Followed by:
Alastair Windsor