Monday, February 25, 2019

Princess Patricia of Connaught


Embed from Getty Images


From my book, Queen Victoria's Descendants.

Although Princess Margaret of Connaught died before her husband became King of Sweden, her only daughter would wear a crown, as have two of her granddaughters.  Margaret's success in Sweden convinced a lot of people that Patricia also would marry a scion of a European royal house.  At various times, she was linked with the Kings of Portugal and Spain, the Count of Turin, Lord Anglesey and Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia.  But Britain's `Fairy Princess' eventually married one of her cousin's subjects -- a marriage that proved to be a popular choice.

Appointed Governor-General of Canada in 1911, the Duke of Connaught was accompanied to Ottawa by his wife and younger daughter, Princess Patricia. As the Duchess of Connaught was in ill-health, Patricia acted as hostess for her father.

The Canadians adored her. During the first world war, she was persuaded to sign hundreds of portraits of herself to be sold in aid of the Red Cross.  She embroidered the original color of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry - and thrilled and proud when she named their Colonel-in-Chief.  Even after she retired from public duties, Patsy continued to visit her regiment every few years.  Patricia's namesake, the Countess Mountbatten, the late Lord Mountbatten's daughter, is the Infantry's current Colonel-in-Chief.

Embed from Getty Images

Widely popular on both sides of the Atlantic, Patsy fell in love with one of her father's ADC, the Hon. Alexander Ramsay, third son of the Earl of Dalhousie.  Although the Duchess of Connaught was sympathetic to the romance (knowing all too well the bitterness arranged marriages could produce), the Duke was adamantly opposed to the marriage and withheld his permission.

The Princess, however, "a handsome young woman with a great spirit and a keen sense of humor" as the New York Times reported, did not give up hope. In 1916, the Duke's term in Canada was terminated, particularly on account of his wife's failing health, which was little improved by the long, harsh Canadian winters.  The Duchess's health continued to decline, and she died in 1917, but not before extracting from her husband a promise to allow the marriage to take place once the war ended.

Though this romantic story may not be entirely true, Patsy and Alexander Ramsay were married in February 1919 at Westminster Abbey, the first royal marriage to be celebrated there since 1394 when King Richard II Prince Edmund wed Anne of Bohemia.

"No doubt a popular marriage,"  George V wrote his diary. And he was right. The marriage of a British princess and a naval officer caught the imagination of the British public. Princess Patricia of Connaught was not the first British princess to marry a commoner and she would not be the last, but her wedding, just two months after the end of World War I, brought light and magic back to Britain.

Embed from Getty Images   

When she married, she chose to relinquish her royal titles, receiving in exchange the title of Lady Patricia Ramsay, with precedence before the Marchionesses of England.  Lady Patricia remained an active member in the Royal Family and was often seen with her husband on state occasions, a tall distinguished, always elegant figure. She was also an accomplished artist, specializing in watercolors of a sufficiently high standard to merit exhibition.  Her cousin, Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, with a hint of disdain, called her work "modern, very modern."

The themes for Patricia's paintings were largely derived from her travel in tropical countries. She had her own studio at her parents' London residence, Clarence House. She studied under A.S. Hartrick, who had known Gauguin and Van Gogh, and their works definitely influenced her style. In later years, she turned to abstracts. An honorary member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, Lady Patricia enjoyed visiting art galleries and encouraging contemporary British artists.

The peaceful, uneventful life she led at her Surrey home was the antithesis of the turbulent existence she would have experienced had she accepted King Alfonso XIII of Spain's proposal of marriage in 1906.  Fortunately, Princess Patricia was blessed with a quiet good sense rather than a desire for position and wealth.

Embed from Getty Images

From time to time she emerged from her private life to attend various royal occasions; although she had renounced her royal titles and rank in 1919 when she married, she remained a member of the Royal Family, and was accorded official status at weddings, coronations, dinners, and funerals, where she was always a tall, elegant figure.

She would also attend exhibitions of her own work, but she refused to submit her work to the Royal Academy.  Lady Patricia's 600 paintings remain in the possession of her son, Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar.

Although she was already thirty-two when she married, Princess Pat and her husband lived long enough to celebrate their Golden wedding anniversary.

Her only child, Alexander Ramsay of Mar, who served in World War II and lost a leg in North Africa, lives at Cairnbulg Castle in Aberdeenshire with his wife, Flora, who in her own right is Lady Saltoun.  They have three daughters, Katharine, who is heir to her mother's title; Alice, and Elizabeth, and five grandchildren. 

Alexander was an ADC to the late Duke of Gloucester and a page of honour at George VI's coronation.  His relations with the Royal Family have always been close, though unobtrusive.  He and his wife are often guests at major royal occasions, including the wedding of his cousin King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and more recently at the weddings of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York.  Along with his cousin, the Duke of Fife, Captain Ramsay is a Vice-Patron of the Braemar Royal Highland Society.




If you liked this article

No comments: