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Biographical entry Cambridge, Sir Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George, Earl of Athlone (1874 - 1957)

KG; PC; GCB; GCMG; GCVO; DSO; FRS; Hon FRCS 11 April 1940.

14 April 1874
16 January 1957
Army officer and Member of the UK Royal Family


Born on 14 April 1874 youngest son of the first Duke of Teck and Princess Mary, he was known until 1917 as His Serene Highness Prince Alexander of Teck. Educated at Eton and Sandhurst he saw active service in the Matabele campaign and the South African war, and was awarded the DSO. He married in 1904 HRH Princess Alice, only daughter of the Duke of Albany, Queen Victoria's youngest son. By his own marriage and by that of his sister, afterwards Queen Mary, to the Prince of Wales (King George V) he was brought into prominence in the Royal family and took a full share of public duty.

He served as Chairman of the Middlesex Hospital before the war and again from 1919 to 1923. He was appointed Governor-General of Canada in 1914, but in fact went on active service in France. In 1917 he relinquished his Princely style and title, as did other members of the Royal family not descended from Queen Victoria, assumed the surname of Cambridge, and was created Earl of Athlone. He was chairman in 1921 of the Ministry of Health Committee on Postgraduate Medical Education. He was Governor-General of South Africa 1923-31. On his return to England he became Governor and Constable of Windsor Castle, and was elected Chancellor of the University of London, a position he held with great benefit to the University until 1954. From 1940 till 1946 he was Governor-General of Canada.

Lord Athlone was elected a Trustee of the Hunterian Museum in 1924 and an Honorary Fellow of the College on 11 April 1940. He died on 16 January 1957 aged 82, survived by HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone and by their daughter; their only son had died many years earlier.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 17 January 1957 p. 12 with a portrait; Biog Mem Roy Soc 1957, 3, 1-5 by Sir Charles Dodds, including an appreciation of his work for the Middlesex Hospital, the Committee on Postgraduate Medical Education, and the University of London, with a portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England