Royal Household Knight's Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath and of the Royal Victorian Order, Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Military Cross group

London Medal Company Royal Household Knight's Gran.

The nationally important Royal Household Knight's Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Knight's Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, and Military Cross group awarded to Sir Alan F. Lascelles, late Derbyshire Yeomanry, and Assistant Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII 'who resigned over the Prince's behaviour, later becoming Assistant Private Secretary to King George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II, and a personal friend of Winston Churchill.

Group of 11: Knight's Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, G.C.B., Civil Division, breast star and sash badge, silver, silver gilt and enamels, the reverse of the breast star additionally engraved: 'The Rt Hon Sir Alan Lascelles P.C. Appointed G.C.B. 1953'; Knight's Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, G.C.V.O., breast star and sash badge, matching numbers '339', silver, silver gilt and enamels, the reverse of the breast star additionally engraved: 'The Rt Hon Sir Alan Lascelles P.C. Appointed G.C.V.O. 1947'; Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Companion, C.M.G., neck badge, silver-gilt and enamels. Mounted group of 7: Military Cross, GRI cypher; 1914-1915 Star; (LIEUT. A. LASCELLES. BEDF. YEO.); British War Medal and Victory Medal with Mentioned in Despatches Oakleaf; (CAPT. A.F. LASCELLES.); Jubilee Medal 1935; Coronation Medal 1937; Coronation Medal 1953. Mounted court style as worn; France: Grand Officer of the Legion d'Honneur, breast star, silver, 7th type 3rd Republic 1870-1951; France: Officer of the Legion d'Honneur, breast badge, silver, gilt and enamels, 7th type 3rd Republic 1870-1951. 

Condition: Nearly Extremely Fine.

Alan Frederick Lascelles, known to his intimate friend's as "Tommy" was born in April 1887, the son of the Honourable Frederick Lascelles, a brother of the 5th Earl of Harewood, was educated at Marlborough and Trinity College, Oxford.

With the outbreak of the Great in August 1914, Lascelles was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the 1/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry, and served in France from June 1915, where, among other adventures, he 'defied a Major General on the field of battle and got away with it' and was wounded by shrapnel in his right forearm on 24th November 1917. Mentioned in Despatches for gallant and distinguished service in the London Gazette for 4th January 1917, and awarded the Military Cross, the latter distinction whilst on attachment to the 15th Hussars, and awarded in the London Gazette for 1st January 1919 in respect of distinguished services during the war, he was demobilised in November 1920, and latterly served as Aide de Camp to the Governor of Bombay.

Returning to the United Kingdom, Lascelles entered Royal Service as a Assistant Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VIII, in which capacity he remained employed until 1929, when he grew distinctly uneasy with the Prince's conduct and resigned. In the course of his time with the Prince in the 1920's, Lascelles gained a unique insight into his charge's foibles, whether on foreign visits to Canada, the U.S.A., or Africa, or on the home establishment - the Prince's insatiable appetite for grand affaires, interwoven with numerous petites affaires, often with married women, was but the tip of the iceberg. To quote Lascelle's, it was more like 'working for the son of an American millionaire' - he was 'an abnormal being, half child, half genius' and the cause of grave concern in terms of his suitability to reign. Indeed on resigning his post on returning from a safari with the Prince in East Africa, Lascelles' took the opportunity of delivering him a severe dressing down: the Prince responded by buying him a new car.

An appointment as Secretary to the Governor-General of Canada ensued, for which he was awarded the Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, but in 1935 Lascelles was persuaded to return to Royal Service as Assistant Private Secretary to King George V, an invitation which he accepted on the basis the King would probably survive for several years. Instead, six weeks later, on George V's sudden death, he found himself back in Edward's employment, this time in face of the gathering storm over his seemingly innocent relationship with Wallis Simpson - Lascelles later confided that any element of innocence was a likely 'as a herd of unicorns grazing in Hyde Park and a shoal of mermaids swimming in the Serpentine.' And if he ever had moment to doubt his belief in the seriousness of the affair, it would have been quickly eroded during the course of the King's yachting trip with Simpson in the Nahlin in the Mediterranean - a hugely expensive, often outright vulgar display, enacted under the glare of the world's media. But as related by Lascelles, Simpson wasn't the only problem, for he had seen Edward's reaction on learning that his late father had all but written him out of his will in terms of cash funds - by abdicating he would be in a position to negotiate better funding. And so it proved when Edward did indeed abdicate. Remarkably, however, his Private Secretary bore him no real bitterness, and, on rare occasions he could be persuaded to touch upon the Abdication, spoke frankly, with the added weight of his unique and protracted dealings with Edward.

As it transpired, the antics of the Duke of Windsor would continue to haunt the Royal Household with alarming regularity in the lead-up to the renewal of hostilities in September 1939, Lascelles often finding himself in the unenviable position of having to act as middle man between the Duke and his increasingly exasperated brother, King George VI. But it was during his subsequent years in office in the War, after a successful Royal Tour to Canada and the U.S.A. in 1939, that he became an invaluable asset to the Royal Family, so, too, witness to an international cast of visitors and crucial wartime meetings that would place him high in the ranks of those afforded such privilege. Once again, interested parties are stingily recommended to consult King's Counsellor - Abdication and War: The Diaries of Sir Alan Lascelles, edited by Duff Hart-Davis, London 2006, where a wealth of vivid descriptions of such encounters may be enjoyed, including full story of the King's visits to Normandy in mid-June 1944 - it had taken all of Lascelles' diplomacy to dissuade the King and Churchill from sailing with the invasion armada on D-Day itself - and to Belgium and the Netherlands in October 1944. Indeed, King's Counsellor is hugely important reference work, containing as it does so many first hand accounts of secret meetings and personal opinions on the great and the good of the 1939 to 1945 War, not least Churchill hard at work with his ministers and top brass. And of more behind the scenes work such as the employment of Lionel Logue to assist the King with his momentous wartime addresses to the nation - depicted so well recently in the superb film 'The King's Speech'.

So, then, to the King's meeting with Truman in early August 1945 and the War's end with the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki a few days later, but while every one else was celebrating VJ Day, Lascelles was occupied by the discovery of secret papers in Germany that implied the Duke of Windsor had been in contact with enemy agents in Portugal back in 1940. And before his retirement after guiding the Royal Household through the tragic loss of the King, and the Queen's Coronation in 1953, he would be challenged yet further by constitutional matters, though in telling Peter Townsend "Either you're mad or bad" when he confessed his love for Princess Margaret, Lascelles was probably - for once - wide of the mark: to his credit the much decorated Group Captain was a naturally modest, diffident and genuine man, who dealt with the crisis in a gentlemanly and sensitive manner throughout.

Lascelles retired on the last day of 1953, having turned down a Peerage, and receiving the following letter of appreciation from Winston Churchill, once more back in power at Downing Street: 'My dear Tommy, In the difficult and delicate and also highly important work you have done during so many years you have made your country your debtor. Your knowledge has enabled you to steer the best course through tangles which would have baffled others. It will always be a joy to you to have played the distinguished part which fell to your lot in the Coronation of our brilliant young Queen and to have advised and helped her during what must have been to her the anxious ordeal of the opening years of her reign. For all your kindnesses to me and the help you have given me I am deeply grateful. I do hope that you will enjoy the years that are to come and find them full of interest and activity. Please keep in touch with me whether I am bearing the burden or following the burden of example. Give my cousinly love to Joan. Yours ever, W'.

And over those 'years that were to come', Lascelles kept himself busy with correspondence and a constant flurry of visitors to his residence at The Stables at Kensington Palace, among the latter Siegfried Sassoon, with whom he shared an interest in poetry - so, too, assorted journalists and authors keen to tap his brains. One such, charged by the B.B.C. to produce a television programme on the future of the British Monarchy, asked whether Lascelles would be happy to grant an interview - and was startled to be told that the former Private Secretary would sooner walk stark naked down Piccadilly.     

Sir Alan, who had been awarded the Knight's Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, G.C.V.O. in the London Gazette for 12th June 1947, and the Knight's Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, G.C.B., Civil Division, in the London Gazette for 2nd June 1953, in addition to the Grand Officer of the Legion de Honneur by the Republic of France, who also claimed to be the only citizen of London to 'have been accosted by a whore while walking its streets with the Archbishop of Canterbury', died in August 1981. His papers are held in the Churchill Archive Centre.


13 June 2017