Alexander Ramsay (Royal Navy officer)

Alexander Ramsay (Royal Navy officer)

Sir Alexander Ramsay
Born (1881-05-29)29 May 1881
Died 8 October 1972(1972-10-08) (aged 91)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1894–1942
Rank Admiral
Commands held HMS Furious
East Indies Station
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order

Admiral Sir Alexander Robert Maule Ramsay GCVOKCBDSO (29 May 1881 – 8 October 1972) was a British Royal Navy officer. He was the husband of Princess Patricia of Connaught, the youngest child of The Duke of Connaught, third son of Queen Victoria. He served with distinction during the First World War. During the 1920s and 1930s, he held several important Naval Aviation commands.


  • Early life and career 1
  • Marriage into the Royal Family 2
  • Aviation commands and flag rank 3
  • Honours 4
  • Death and burial 5
  • References 6

Early life and career

Born in London as the third son of John Ramsay, 13th Earl of Dalhousie, and his wife, Lady Ida Louisa Bennet, he entered the Royal Navy as a cadet on HMS Britannia in 1894.[1] He first went to sea on HMS Majestic, the flagship of Admiral Sir Walter Kerr in the Channel Squadron,[1] and was confirmed as a Sub-lieutenant 29 May 1900.[2] In early December 1901 he was posted on the cruiser HMS Diadem,[3] but the order was cancelled as he was instead ordered to the cruiser HMS Grafton as she left to become flagship of the Pacific Station in January 1902.[4] In October 1911, he became a naval aide-de-camp to the Duke of Connaught, then Governor General of Canada.[1] He returned to active naval duty in 1913 as the gunnery officer of the battlecruiser Indefatigable in the Mediterranean.[1]

Ramsay took part in several important naval operations of the First World War. He took part in the first phase of the bombardment of the Dardanelles forts in November 1914,[1] and later at Gallipoli. He received the Distinguished Service Order for his conduct there. Ramsay rose to the rank of commander in late 1914 and became flag commander of the Second Squadron in 1916.[1] He gained promotion to captain in 1919 and served as the naval attaché in Paris for the next three years.[1]

Marriage into the Royal Family

On 27 February 1919, the then-Captain Ramsay married Princess Patricia of Connaught at Westminster Abbey, in the presence of the entire British Royal Family. He had proposed to her while staying with J. K. L. Ross at his fishing lodge on the bay of St. Anns, Nova Scotia.

On the day of the wedding, Princess Patricia voluntarily relinquished the title of "Princess of Great Britain and Ireland" and the style "Royal Highness", and assumed by Royal Warrant the style "Lady Patricia Ramsay" with precedence before the Marchionesses of England. Despite his wife's relinquishment of her royal title, the couple remained members of the British Royal Family. They attended major royal events for the next forty years, including the 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.[5]

They had one son, Alexander Ramsay of Mar.

Aviation commands and flag rank

In 1928, Ramsay assumed command of the aircraft carrier HMS Furious in the Atlantic Fleet.[1] He gained promotion to rear admiral in 1933 and for the next five years commanded the aircraft carriers in the fleet.[1]

Ramsay served as Commander in Chief, East Indies Station, from 1936 to 1938,[1] and then became Fifth Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Air Services.[1] Ramsay held this post until the outbreak of the Second World War. He was promoted to Admiral in December 1939 and retired at his own request in 1942.[1][6]


Ramsay was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in March 1916. The citation reads, "Flag Commander to Vice-Admiral de Robeck, and has done exceptionally good service throughout the operations."[7]

He was made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in the King's Birthday Honours of 1932,[8] and, in the New Year Honours of 1934, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB),[9] which was advanced to Knight Commander of the same Order (KCB) on 11 May 1937, "on the occasion of His Majesty's Coronation".[10]

On 6 July 1938 he was received by King Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO).[11]

Death and burial

Ramsay died at his home, Ribsden Holt, Windlesham, Surrey, on 8 October 1972.[12] He is buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27389. p. 8981. 20 December 1901.
  3. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence" The Times (London). Tuesday, 3 December 1901. (36628), p. 6.
  4. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence" The Times (London). Thursday, 19 December 1901. (36642), p. 7.
  5. ^ Royal Collection: Seating plan for the Ball Supper Room
  6. ^ "Sir Alexander Ramsay" in The Times (Tuesday, 10 October 1972), p. 17.
  7. ^ Supplement to The London Gazette, 14 March, 1916, p. 2870
  8. ^ Supplement to The London Gazette, 3 June, 1932, p. 3573
  9. ^ Supplement to The London Gazette, 1 January, 1934, p. 3
  10. ^ Supplement to The London Gazette, 11 May, 1937, p. 3078
  11. ^ "Court Circular" in The Times (Thursday, 7 July 1938), p. 19. The London Gazette, 29 July, 1938, p. 4877
  12. ^ "Sir Alexander Ramsay" in The Times (Tuesday, 10 October 1972), p. 17; "Deaths" in The Times (Tuesday, 10 October 1972), p. 28
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Forrester Rose
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station
Succeeded by
Sir James Somerville
Title last held by
Sir Godfrey Paine
Fifth Sea Lord
Succeeded by
Sir Guy Royle