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Names you may have heard: Sir Alan Lascelles

Sir Alan Frederick Lascelles was born on 11 April 1887 at Sutton Waldron House in Dorset. He was the sixth and youngest child, and only surviving son, of Commander Frederick Canning Lascelles.

Lascelles was also the grandson of the fourth Earl of Harewood. His mother, Frederica Maria was the daughter of Sir Adolphus Frederic Octavius Liddell, son of the first Baron Ravensworth.

Tommy, as he was known, was educated at Marlborough and went on to Trinity College, Oxford. After his time at Oxford, he joined the Bedfordshire Yeomanry in 1913 after he was unable to find work in the Foreign Ministry. He then had a brief stint in journalism and tried his hand at being a stockbroker.

After the war, Lascelles set sail for India in 1919 as he became as aide-de-camp to his brother-in-law Sir George Ambrose (later Lord) Lloyd, the appointed governor of Bombay.

Lascelles returned to England in 1920 having married Joan Frances Vere Thesiger, the eldest daughter of the viceroy, Frederic Thesiger, Viscount Chelmsford. They would have three children.

Upon his return, he was appointed the assistant private secretary to the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII).

Lascelles was a moral man, and the cavorting of The Prince of Wales troubled him. After a tour of Africa in 1929, he submitted his resignation along with some frank criticism of The Prince’s shortcomings.

He went on to serve as private secretary to the Governor General of Canada from 1931 until 1935. There he was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) for his work on free trade in the empire during the 1933 Ottawa Conference.

Lascelles was known for his exceptional memory, keen ear for music and a great love of books. He was thought of as a stylish writer and preparer of draft speeches.

In 1935, he was persuaded back into Royal service as the assistant private secretary to King George V. It would come as a shock that only a mere few months into returning to work for the Royal Family, George V died. Many wondered if the man whom he criticised earlier would keep him or sack him. Despite the past disapproval and subsequent resignation of Lascelles in 1929, he continued to stay on with the new King.

After the abdication in 1936, Lascelles continued as assistant private secretary to King George VI. When Alexander Hardinge, the King’s private secretary retired due to health concerns in 1943, Lascelles stepped into the position. That same year he became Privy Counsellor. He was also Keeper of the Royal Archives from 1943 to 1953.

Lascelles would remain private secretary to George VI until his sudden death in 1952. He did stay on for the next year to help with the transition of The Queen, waiting until after her coronation in 1953 to take on a new position.

From 1953 until 1981, he was an extra equerry to the Queen. He was also Chairman of the Historic Buildings Council, The Pilgrim Trust and Director of the Midland Bank after his retirement as Her Majesty’s private secretary.

During his lifetime, he was awarded a GCB and GCVO.

He lived at Kensington Palace’s Old Stable Block for thirty years until his death on 10 August 1981.