The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Prince George, Duke of Cambridge

Prince George, Duke of Cambridge

A carte-de-visite portrait of Prince George, Duke of Cambridge (1819-1904). He was a grandson of King George III and a cousin of Queen Victoria.

Born at Cambridge House in Hanover in 1819, in 1850 he became the second Duke of Cambridge. The Duke was an army officer and he served as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army from 1856 to 1895, the longest period for which any one man has served as its head. Although he was deeply concerned about the welfare of soldiers, he earned a reputation for being resistant to doctrinal change and for making promotions based upon an officer's social standing, rather than his merit. Under his command, the British Army became a moribund and stagnant institution, lagging far behind its continental counterparts.

Prince George, as he then was, made no secret of his view that ‘arranged marriages were doomed to failure.’ On 8 January 1847, in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, he married privately at St. John’s, Clerkenwell, an actress by the name of Sarah Louisa Fairbrother, daughter of the partner in a Bow Street printing firm. Since the marriage did not exist in British law, his wife was never titled Duchess of Cambridge nor styled ‘Her Royal Highness’. Instead, she was known simply as ‘Mrs. FitzGeorge’. He was distraught when she died in 1890, and regularly marked the anniversary of her death.

The Duke of Cambridge died in 1904 at Gloucester House, Piccadilly, London. He was buried in Kensal Green cemetery, next to the woman with whom he had shared his life.

Photographed by Maull and Company of London.


Code: 124082
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© Paul Frecker 2018