Monday, September 19, 2005

Royal Profile: Princess Patricia of Connaught

Princess Victoria Patricia Helena Elizabeth of Connaught was the youngest child of Queen Victoria's favourite son Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and his wife, Princess Luise Margarete (Louise Margaret), Duchess of Connaught. She was born on March 17, 1886 at Buckingham Palace. She was named Victoria after Queen Victoria; Patricia, after St. Patrick, the saint of her birthday, and Helena, in honour of her father's sister. Informally, she was known as Patsy.

She had two older siblings, Prince Arthur and Princess Margaret, the future Crown Princess of Sweden. Given the times, she and her sister were brought up more progressively than most of their royal contemporaries; holding views on the suffragette movement that shocked older relatives.

In her younger years she spent much of her time abroad, travelling with her parents during her father's military postings. Due to her mother's failing health she acted as his hostess during his tenure as Governor-General of Canada. While in Canada she endeared herself to the public with her love of Canadian games and outdoor sports. She worked with various charities such as the Red Cross and she was appointed 'Colonel-in-Chief' of Princess Patricia's Light Infantry, whose first color she personally embroidered. A gifted artist, she was an accomplished painter and had a studio at Clarence House (her father's home). Her works were regularly exhibited and she left behind some 600 works of art at the time of her death.

In her youth she was very popular with the press, who called her 'Princess Pat' and there was much speculation on who she would marry. On February 27, 1919 she married Captain the Hon. Alexander Ramsay, (later Admiral the Hon. Sir Alexander Ramsay) in Westminister Abbey; inadvertently setting a tradition for future marriages to be celebrated there. Although she was not required to do so, in order to bring her closer to the rank of her husband, she relinquished her royal titles, and upon her marriage became Lady Patricia Ramsay. Her decision to give up her titles was met with approval by the press, who said, 'with her wedding she has put aside the Princess - an act in the true tradition of British aristocracy, that has always scorned the mere empty parade of titles for titles' sake'. Their only child, Alexander, was born on December 21, 1919.

She held several honours: Lady of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India, she was a member of the Royal Order of Victoria and Alberta and a Dame of Justice of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. She was also awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration in recognition of her services to the Canadian Army.

During her husband's military career, the family was posted around the world. For a time, the couple lived at Clarence House, but in 1942 they finally settled in Ribsden Holt, Windlesham; a home she inherited from her aunt, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. She died there on January 12, 1974; the second last surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria. She and her husband are buried in the Frogmore Royal Burial grounds, Windsor.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

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