Ramsay, Lady Patricia [formerly Princess Patricia of Connaught] (18861974), artist, was born Victoria Patricia Helena Elizabeth in London at Buckingham Palace on St Patrick's day, 17 March 1886. She was the third and youngest child and younger daughter of , the third son of Queen Victoria, and his wife, Princess Louise Margaret Alexandra Victoria Agnes (18601917), third daughter of Prince Frederick Charles Nicholas of Prussia. The duchess of Connaught, the dominant partner in the marriage, who had herself spent an unhappy childhood, was an undemonstrative and sometimes neglectful parent. The young princess, Patsy, as she was called in the family, had to wear her elder sister's cast-off clothing, and to the end of her life suffered from painful feet, the result of her mother's refusal to buy her well-fitting shoes.
Although Princess Patricia of Connaught grew up to be tall, handsome, and intelligent, she was handicapped by an inculcated lack of self-confidence that made her feel unwanted and helped delay her acceptance of a suitor in marriage until she was nearly thirty-three. Alfonso XIII of Spain, who in 1906 married her cousin Princess Victoria Eugénie, was among those who sought her hand in vain.
Meanwhile, Princess Patricia travelled the world in the wake of her father, who held a succession of military appointments in India, the Mediterranean, Canada, and Ireland. During the duke's years as governor-general of Canada, 191116, his wife was in declining health and Princess Patricia acted as his hostess. The Canadians appreciated her beauty, her charm, and her devotion to war work. She was persuaded to sign innumerable miniature portraits of herself to be sold in aid of the Red Cross, and embroidered the original colour of Princess Patricia's Canadian light infantry which was carried into battle on the western front. Immensely proud at being appointed their colonel-in-chief, she visited her regiment many times over the years, even after her retirement from public duties. Canada also paid the princess the compliment of naming after her an extension to Ontario's boundaries and a bay in British Columbia.
On 27 February 1919 Princess Patricia was married in Westminster Abbey to Captain the Hon. Sir Alexander Robert Maule Ramsay (18811972), a younger son of [see under ] and a serving naval officer. It was a love match born of a friendship that had begun even before Ramsay's attachment to the duke of Connaught's staff in Canada; impossible during her mother's lifetime, it also marked the more relaxed post-war attitude of the royal family towards marriage with a commoner, and was to bring the princess the first real happiness she knew. There was one child of the marriage, Alexander Arthur Alfonso David Maule (19192000), who fought in the Grenadier Guards during the Second World War and was severely wounded. Admiral Ramsay died in 1972. Two days before the wedding George V gave his permission for the bride to relinquish, at her own wish, her royal title, style, and rank and to assume the style of Lady Patricia Ramsay, with precedence immediately before the marchionesses of England. She nevertheless chose to wear at the coronations of 1937 and of 1953 the robes and coronet of a princess of the blood.
After her marriage Lady Patricia scarcely ever emerged from the seclusion of her private life except to attend an exhibition of her own paintings; even then she would not submit her work to the Royal Academy, although willing to become patron of the less publicized Royal West of England Academy. In 1931 she joined the New English Art Club, and was an honorary member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours. She found much fulfilment in her art, insisting always that it be judged only by exacting professional standards. The earliest of her 600 paintings were of flowers. During travels abroad, her imagination was caught by marine life and tropical vegetation, and in later years she turned to abstracts. Lady Patricia experimented boldly with bright colours and bold contrasts that owed something to the influence of Gauguin and Van Gogh, whose work was introduced to her by A. S. Hartrick, with whom she studied. She was equally deft in oils, watercolours, pen and ink, and gouache. Most of her works were in the possession of her son.
As the wife of a naval officer, Lady Patricia had no house of her own until 1942, when she took possession of Ribsden Holt, Windlesham, bequeathed to her by her aunt and fellow artist Princess Louise, duchess of Argyll. It was there that she died on 12 January 1974 in her eighty-eighth year. The funeral took place in St George's Chapel, Windsor, and the burial at Frogmore.
Kenneth Rose, rev.
The Times (14 Jan 1974) · private information (1986) [Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar]
W. & D. Downey, double portrait, photograph, c.1906 (with her sister), NPG · W. & D. Downey, group portrait, photograph, 1907 (with royal family), NPG · J. Lavery, oils, before 1910, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa · C. Shannon, oils, 191718, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa · A. S. Hartrick, portrait, c.1920, priv. coll. · A. McEvoy, portrait, 1926, priv. coll. · C. Shannon, portrait, Currie barracks, Edmonton, Alberta · C. Sims, portrait, Bagshot Park, Surrey
Wealth at death
£917,199: probate, 17 April 1974, CGPLA Eng. & Wales