Arthur Frederick Patrick Albert 1883-1938, prince of Great Britain and Ireland, the only son and second child of Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert, first Duke of Connaught (1850-1942), the third son of Queen Victoria, by his wife, Princess Louise Margaret Alexandra Victoria Agnes, daughter of Prince Charles Frederick of Prussia, was born at Windsor Castle 13 January 1883. During the absence of their parents in India he and his two sisters were much with Queen Victoria, who showed them great affection and afterwards continued to invite them to Osborne and Balmoral. From 1893 their home was with their parents at Bagshot Park.
Prince Arthur was educated at Farnborough School, Hampshire, at Eton, and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. In 1899 he joined in his father's renunciation of the succession to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, then held by his uncle, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh [qv.].
Prince Arthur received his commission in the 7th Hussars in 1901 and joined the regiment in South Africa, where he saw active service. In 1907 he was promoted captain in the Royal Scots Greys, of which regiment he became colonel-in-chief in 1921. He also held that rank in the Royal Army Pay Corps. In the war of 1914-1918 he was aide-de-camp successively to Sir John French, Sir Douglas Haig, and Sir Charles Monro, commanding the First Army, was twice mentioned in dispatches, was promoted major and was appointed C.B. (1915), and retired in 1919 as brevet lieutenant-colonel after serving with the army of occupation on the Rhine. In 1920 he became an honorary major-general.
Prince Arthur undertook state missions on behalf of King Edward VII and King George V to two successive Emperors of Japan in 1906, 1912, and 1918, and represented the King on state occasions in Portugal (1908) and in Russia, Bavaria, and Italy (1911). During King George's absence in India (1911-1912) he was one of the four counsellors of state.
In 1920 Prince Arthur was appointed governor-general of the Union of South Africa in succession to S. C. Buxton, first Earl Buxton [qv.], and arrived in Cape Town in November. While no outstanding constitutional issues arose during his three years in the Dominion, several notable events occurred which find their place in Union history. In 1919 parliament had authorized the government to accept the League of Nations' mandate for German South-West Africa and this involved legislation to provide for its administration as an integral part of the Union. There were negotiations in 1921 between Southern Rhodesia, then under a chartered company, and the Union government on the possibility of the incorporation of the country in the Union, but as a result of a referendum in Southern Rhodesia in which the majority voted against the Union's offer, Southern Rhodesia in 1923 received responsible government. During all these years General Smuts was premier and it was during his term of office that the industrial unrest and discontent, which had been manifest immediately before the war of 1914-1918, now made themselves felt on a larger scale than ever before, leading to an outbreak on the Rand which was only suppressed by the government after the declaration of martial law, General Smuts himself leaving Cape Town to take charge of the situation. In the matter of the Indian problem in South Africa the governor-general, on the advice of the Union ministers, withheld his assent to a Natal ordinance of 1921 depriving Indians of the municipal franchise; but after the Imperial Conference of 1923 was over Indians were deprived of this franchise by ordinances passed subsequent to the termination of his governorship in that year. It was during Prince Arthur's term of office that the Union undertook the entire responsibility for its own defence, except that, by an agreement of 1921, under which the United Kingdom transferred to the Union government the freehold of the lands and buildings of the naval base of Simonstown, a servitude was registered against the freehold in favour of the Admiralty as perpetual user for naval purposes. Accordingly the historic castle at Cape Town was handed over to the defence officers of the Union and the United Kingdom command was withdrawn.
In 1923 Prince Arthur became chairman of the Middlesex Hospital and presided regularly over its building committee and over the appeal committee formed to provide for a great expansion of its work. For this he personally worked so hard and successfully that nearly two million pounds were raised by and under him, and the Middlesex became one of the greatest of the teaching hospitals with first-rate laboratories, a new out-patients' building, and a new nurses' home.
Prince Arthur was appointed G.C.V.O. (1899), K.G. (1902), K.T. (1913), and G.C.M.G. (1918). He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1910. He was an Elder Brother of the Trinity House (1910) and high steward of Reading (1935). He married in 1913 his first cousin once removed, Princess Alexandra Victoria Alberta Edwina Louise, by special remainder Duchess of Fife, elder daughter of Alexander William George Duff, first Duke of Fife (died 1912), by his wife, Louise Victoria Alexandra Dagmar, princess royal [qv.], eldest daughter of King Edward VII. Their only child, Alastair Arthur, Earl of Macduff (born 1914), succeeded his grandfather as second Duke of Connaught in 1942, and died 26 April 1943. Prince Arthur died in London 12 September 1938.
Dominions Office papers: private information
Contributor: E. B. Phipps.