Thursday, June 12, 2008

Royal Profile: Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar

Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar died on the eve of his 81st birthday on December 20, 2000. At the time of his death "Sandy" was one of five surviving great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria.

Alexander Arthur Alfonso David Maule Ramsay was born in his mother's bathroom at Clarence House, then home to his maternal grandfather the Duke of Connaught, on December 21 1919. He was the son of Princess Patricia of Connaught and Admirable the Honorable Captain Sir Alexander Ramsay, the third son of the 13th Earl of Dalhousie. He was christened in the Chapel Royal, St James's, in the presence of George V and Queens Mary and Alexandra. His godparents included Princess Christian, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) and King Alfonso of Spain.

A playmate of the present Queen when young, Sandy attended Eton College and acted as page of honor, along with his cousin the Earl of Harewood at the Coronation of King George VI. Leaving Eton the same year he received a commission in the Grenadier Guards and he saw active service in North Africa during WWII. He lost his right leg below the knee during a tank battle in Tunisia in 1943. In 1944 he became an Aide-de-Camp of his cousin, Henry Duke of Gloucester who was then Governor General of Australia. During his three years there he had another close call when his car became trapped between two trams in Sydney and was sliced in half.

In 1944 he learnt that he would inherit Mar Lodge and its estates from his aunt, Princess Arthur of Connaught, Duchess of Fife whose only son and heir apparent to the dukedom had died in 1943. Upon leaving the Army in 1947 he studied agriculture at Trinity College, Cambridge and graduated in 1952. He worked for three years on the Linlithgow estates at South Queensferry. In 1959 he inherited the Mar estate and was allowed to add the designation 'of Mar' to his name. Part of the estate was sold to pay inheritance tax and became Mar Lodge Estate; part of which was destroyed by fire in 1991 while being renovated.

On October 6th, 1956 he married Flora Fraser, the only daughter and heiress of the 20th Lord Saltoun, at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire. They had met at the Perth Hunt Ball. They had three daughters, Katherine (b 1957), Alice (b 1961) and Elizabeth (b 1963). Upon her father's death in 1979 Flora succeeded as the 21st Lady Saltoun and Chief of the Name of Fraser in her own right. The couple resided at his wife's family seat, Cairnbulg Castle, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.

Captain Ramsay was a devotee of family and Scottish history, and took a keen interest in heraldry. He also enjoyed shooting, sailing and travelling. In 1959 he became vice-patron of the Braemar Royal Highland Society. In 1971 Ramsay became the deputy lord lieutenant for Aberdeenshire. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and for 30 years chairman of the executive committee of the Scottish Life Boat Council. He was survived by his wife and three daughters.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

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