Alexander Duff, 1st Duke of Fife

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
His Grace
The Duke of Fife
Duke Duchess Fife.jpg
The Duke of Fife with his wife Louise, Princess Royal.
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms
In office
3 May 1880 – 21 January 1881
Monarch Queen Victoria
Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone
Preceded by The Earl of Coventry
Succeeded by The Marquess of Huntly
Personal details
Born (1849-11-10)10 November 1849
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 29 January 1912(1912-01-29) (aged 62)
Aswan, Egypt
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Louise, Princess Royal (1867–1931)

Alexander William George Duff, 1st Duke of Fife KG KT GCVO PC VD (10 November 1849 – 29 January 1912), styled Viscount Macduff between 1857 and 1879 and known as The Earl Fife between 1879 and 1889, was a British peer who married Princess Louise, the third child and eldest daughter of Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark.

Early life[edit]

Fife was born in Edinburgh, the son of James Duff (a grandson of the 3rd Earl Fife and heir presumptive to his uncle, the 4th Earl Fife) and his wife, the former Lady Agnes Hay, second daughter of the 18th Earl of Erroll and the former Lady Elizabeth FitzClarence (an illegitimate daughter of William IV). When his father succeeded as 5th Earl Fife in 1857, he acquired the courtesy title Viscount Macduff. He attended Eton from 1863 to 1866.

Political and diplomatic career[edit]

Fife served as Member of Parliament for the Elginshire and Nairnshire constituency, in Scotland, from 1874 to 1879. On 7 August 1879, he succeeded his father as 6th Earl Fife in the Peerage of Ireland (and as 2nd Baron Skene in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, which title gave him a seat in the House of Lords). He served under William Ewart Gladstone as Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms from 1880 to 1881, and served on a special diplomatic mission to the King of Saxony in 1882. He was also Lord-Lieutenant Elginshire from 1872 to 1902. In 1885, Queen Victoria created him Earl of Fife in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.[1] He helped found the Chartered Company of South Africa, and served as one of its vice presidents until the 1896 Jameson Raid.


On Saturday 27 July 1889, Lord Fife married Princess Louise, the eldest daughter of the then-Prince and Princess of Wales, at the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace. The couple were third cousins in descent from George III. The wedding marked the second time a descendant of Queen Victoria married a British subject (the first being the marriage of The Princess Louise, the Queen's fourth daughter, to the Duke of Argyll). Two days after the wedding, the Queen elevated Lord Fife to the further dignity of Duke of Fife and Marquess of Macduff, in the County of Banff, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.[2]

The marriage of the Duke of Fife and Princess Louise produced three children:

Later life[edit]

In December 1911, while sailing to Egypt on the SS Delhi, the Duke and his family were shipwrecked off the coast of Morocco. Although they escaped unharmed, the Duke fell ill with pleurisy, probably contracted as a result of the shipwreck. He died at Aswan in Egypt on 29 January 1912, and his elder daughter, Princess Alexandra, succeeded to the 1900 Dukedom, becoming the Duchess of Fife and Countess of Macduff in her own right.[3] The Duke's other titles, including the 1889 Dukedom, became extinct. The Duke was buried in the Private Chapel, Mar Lodge Mausoleum, Braemar, Aberdeenshire.

Titles and honours[edit]

Arms of Alexander Duff, 1st Duke of Fife

The Duke of Fife received a new patent as Duke of Fife and Earl of Macduff in the Peerage of the United Kingdom in April 1900, with special remainder to his daughters by Princess Louise and their heirs male.[4] The result was that he held two Dukedoms of Fife; the 1889 creation (with the subsidiary Marquessate of Macduff) would become extinct in the absence of a son and the 1900 creation (with the subsidiary Earldom of Macduff) would devolve upon his elder daughter in the absence of a son. In November 1905, his father-in-law, now King Edward VII, bestowed the title Princess Royal on the Duchess of Fife and declared that Lady Alexandra Duff and Lady Maud Duff should henceforth hold the title of Princess of Great Britain and Ireland with the style Highness.

Queen Victoria created the future Duke of Fife a Knight of the Thistle; George V created him an Extra Knight of the Garter. He was also sworn a Privy Counsellor in 1880.[5] At the coronation of his father-in-law, King Edward VII, in August 1902, and again at George V's coronation in June 1911, the Duke of Fife acted as Lord High Constable. In addition to his London residence, 15 Portman Square, the Duke owned two estates in Scotland: Mar Lodge, Aberdeenshire, and Mountcoffer House, Banff.


Shorthand styles from birth to death[edit]

  • Alexander Duff Esq (1849–1857)
  • Viscount Macduff (1857–1874)
  • Viscount Macduff, MP (1874–1879)
  • The Rt Hon. The Earl Fife (1879–1880)
  • The Rt Hon. The Earl Fife, PC (1880–1881)
  • The Rt Hon. The Earl Fife, KT, PC (1881–1885)
  • The Rt Hon. The Earl of Fife, KT, PC (1885–1889)
  • His Grace The Duke of Fife, KT, PC (1889–1901)
  • His Grace The Duke of Fife, KT, GCVO, PC (1901–1904)
  • His Grace The Duke of Fife, KT, GCVO, VD, PC (1904–1911)
  • His Grace The Duke of Fife, KG, KT, GCVO, VD, PC (1911–1912)



  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 25490. p. 3239. 14 July 1885.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 25958. p. 4077. 27 July 1889.
  3. ^ "ASSUAN, Upper Egypt, Jan. 29". New York Times. 30 January 1912. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27186. p. 2605. 24 April 1900.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24841. p. 2836. 4 May 1880.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27285. p. 1145. 15 February 1901. Retrieved 11-10-2012.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Ogilvy-Grant
Member of Parliament for Elginshire & Nairnshire
Succeeded by
Sir George Macpherson-Grant, Bt
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Coventry
Captain of the Gentlemen at Arms
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Huntly
Honorary titles
Preceded by
George Skene Duff
Lord Lieutenant of Elginshire
Succeeded by
Earl of March and Kinrara
Preceded by
The Duke of Westminster
Lord Lieutenant of the County of London
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Crewe
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Duke of Fife
1st creation
Earl of Fife
Duke of Fife
2nd creation
Succeeded by
Princess Alexandra of Fife
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
James Duff
Earl Fife