Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Military Prince

Prince Arthur, the eighth child of Queen Victoria, informed his family that he wanted to be a soldier at a very young age. 'Artur wants to be a soldier,' he told them.

He was fascinated by everything that was military. He loved to play with toy soldiers representing British and Prussian regiments. Little Arthur also liked to read about the military - he especially liked to read about the Duke of Wellington.

He was a strong and healthy child so the family agreed that this would be a good career for him. The Prince was educated by private tutors. He attended the Royal Military College at Woolwich when he was only sixteen. He was kept away from his flirtatious brother, Edward, who was staying at the barracks. Edward might be a bad influence! After graduating the Prince became a lieutenant in the British Army.

In 1874 when he was only 24 Arthur became the Duke of Connauught and Strathearn and the Earl of Sussex. He also inherited the duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha but he renounced this and handed it to his great-nephew, Prince Charles.


Prince Arthur served in South Africa, India and Canada. When he was only 19 he was stationed in Montreal and took part in an action against the Fenians.

He became the a Divisional Commander 1883-86 in India and Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army 1886-90. He returned to England after this and found it a bit dull after the exotic life in India. He was also very disappointed that he was not made the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. The government apparently thought that he was too inexperienced. However, his friendship with Leonie Leslie made him somewhat more cheerful.

Prince Arthur became the Governor-General of Canada in 1912. He and the Duchess were very popular in Canada. Their daughter, Patricia, was especially popular.

When war was declared the Prince saw the troops off. The Canadian Prime-Minister didn't care for this - he thought that it was beyond the Prince's duties.

The Duchess was very ill during the Prince's time in Canada and had to go back to England for two operations. She died in 1917.

After his return from Canada in 1916 the Prince was based in Aldershott where he was a commander in the army.


Prince Arthur married a Prussian princess, Princess Margaret Louisa, in 1879. Queen Victoria didn't approve at first. He was her favourite son and she saw no need for him to marry at all! She had had enough of the arrogant Prussian royal family.

However, she found Louisa to be a charming girl and very sweet. The couple had three children - Margaret, Arthur, and Patricia. Sadly, Margaret, who became CP of Sweden, and Prince Arthur both died before their father.

There were rumours about the Duke and Leonie Leslie, Jennie Churchill's sister. The Duchess liked this vivacious woman too, however, and didn't want her to end her friendship with the Prince. (I think that they were probably just platonic friends but it's a mystery.)

Leslie remained friendly with the Prince after his wife died and helped him a great deal.

Prince Arthur lived a very long life. He died at 91. He was sympathetic with young Edward VIII during the abdication crisis but worried about the kind of 'Queen' that he wanted to marry. He was pleased to see King George VI succeed.

He died at 91 in 1942.

1 comment:

Kittie Howard said...

Viola, I hadn't paid any attention to Prince Arthur so read your post twice. Since PA was sympathetic to Edward VIII, was he also leaning toward Germany??

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