Biography of Athlone, Earl of - Archontology
Athlone, Earl of

Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George Cambridge

b. 14 Apr 1874, London, England
d. 16 Jan 1957, London, England

Title: Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Union of South Africa :: Goeverneur-generaal en Opperbevelhebber in en over de Unie van Zuid-Afrika :: (from 27 May 1925) Goewerneur-generaal en Opperbevelhebber in en oor die Unie van Suid-Afrika
Term: 21 Jan 1924 - 26 Jan 1931
Chronology: 21 Nov 1923, appointed by Commission under the Royal Sign Manual and Signet [1]
  21 Jan 1924, took an oath of allegiance and an oath of office as Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Union of South Africa, Cape Town [2]
  26 Jan 1931, appointment superseded by the Commission of a successor effective on taking the prescribed oaths (26 Jan 1931) [3][4]
Names/titles: Baptised: Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George; nobility title (by birth): Prince Alexander von Teck; renounced the style and title Prince von Teck and assumed the surname Cambridge by Royal License and Authority of 14 Jul 1917; nobility titles (conferred): Earl of Athlone, Viscount Trematon in the county of Cambridge [from 7 Nov 1917] [5]
  Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Dominion of Canada (21 Jun 1940 - 12 Apr 1946) [see details]
Prince Alexander was the son of the 1st Duke of Teck and Princess Mary Adelaide. A brother of Queen Mary, he was the uncle of King George VI. He was educated at Eton and the Military College at Sandhurst. Appointed Second Lieutenant with the 7th Hussar in 1894, he served in the Matabele campaign (1896) and in the South African War of 1899-1901. In 1904, he married Princess Alice, daughter of Prince Leopold and granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Alexander was to have been appointed Governor General of Canada in 1914, but requested that his name be withdrawn because of World War I. Retiring from his career as a soldier after the war, Athlone took an interest in education and medical research, and was Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Union of South Africa (21 Jan 1924 - 26 Jan 1931). Although thinking himself too old when asked to serve as governor general again, the Earl of Athlone served more than a full term. He was the second member of the British royal family after the Duke of Connaught to be Governor General of Canada. During World War II, the Earl of Athlone supported the Canadian war effort by inspecting troops, training schools and military hospitals. He created the Athlone-Vanier Engineering Fellowship at the Engineering Institute of Canada and also enjoyed the social activities. Upon his return to UK, Athlone served the Chancellor of London University until 1955.
Biographical sources: "Dictionary of South African Biography", ed. by W.J. de Kock, D.W. Krüger (et al.) (Pretoria: Nasional Boekhandel Bpk. for National Council for Social Research, Dept. of Higher Education, 1968-1987), 5 vols; The Times, No. 53,741, Royal Edition, 17 Jan 1957, pp. 8, 12 (obituary).

[1] Government Gazette, No. 1363, Extra, 23 Jan 1924, pp. ii-iii.
[2] Government Gazette, No. 1363, Extra, 23 Jan 1924, p. ii.
[3] Government Gazette, No. 1921, Extra, 26 Jan 1931, p. (i).
[4] After the Earl of Athlone permanently left South Africa, his functions were taken over by Jacob Abraham Jeremy de Villiers as Officer Administering the Government of the Union of South Africa :: Amptenaar Belas met die Uitoefening van die Uitvoerende Gesag van die Unie van Suid-Afrika (10 Dec 1930 - 26 Jan 1931) who continued in office until the installation of the Earl of Clarendon.
[5] London Gazette, No. 30374, 9 Nov 1917, pp. 11593-11594.