Princess Patricia and Alex Ramsay on the cover of the Illustrated London News

Princess Patricia of Connaught was born in Buckingham Palace on March 17, 1886. Baptized Victoria Patricia Helena Elizabeth, she was a grandchild of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert—the third child of the third son, to be precise.

What makes Princess Patricia so fascinating?

As a beautiful, vivacious granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Patricia of Connaught grew up in palaces and castles. Princes and kings vied to marry her. The world was at her feet. Yet she witnessed some of the most tumultuous events in history. The Russian cousins she played with at Osborne were murdered by the Bolsheviks, other cousins were killed in the bloodbath of the First World War.

She could have retreated into the rarified world of royalty, but she didn’t.

Princess Patricia became the very model of the modern royal princess

  • She actively supported the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), a regiment raised in 1914. She even created its regimental colour.
  • Her outdoorsy nature made her a wildly popular figure in Canada, where her father was Governor General. Indeed, Patricia’s portrait was put on the $1 banknote in 1917.
  • She supported the women’s suffrage movement, hiring a suffragette as her lady-in-waiting
  • She married for love, choosing a commoner: her father’s former aide, Commander the Hon. Alexander Ramsay. She was 32 years old.
  • She voluntarily surrendered her titles that day in 1919, so as to not outrank her husband, becoming Lady Patricia Ramsay
  • The wedding was held at Westminster Abbey. It was the first held there in six centuries.
  • She stayed a member of the royal family, continuing public engagements, particularly with the PPLCI, until her death in 1974.

When she died, she was the second-last surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria (Princess Alice of Athlone died in 1981).