Louis Greig

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Louis Leisler Greig
Full name Louis Leisler Greig
School Glasgow Academy & Merchiston Castle School
University University of Glasgow
Occupation(s) Stockbroker, surgeon, royal equerry
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Forward
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
United Services Portsmouth
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Scotland
British Isles

Group Captain Sir Louis Leisler Greig, KBE, CVO (17 November 1880 – 1 March 1953) was a British naval surgeon, courtier and intimate of King George VI, and a rugby union player.

Rugby union[edit]

Greig was a successful rugby player, and was capped for Scotland and the British and Irish Lions when they took their 1903 British Lions tour to South Africa.[1] He took part in all three tests against South Africa as well as some of the provincial matches.

Biography[edit]

The son of a Glasgow merchant, Greig was educated at Glasgow Academy and Merchiston Castle School before studying medicine at Glasgow University. Academically gifted, Greig was also an excellent rugby union and tennis player. After a few years practicing as a junior doctor in the Gorbals, he joined the navy in 1906 and won the gold medal during his training at Haslar.

In 1909, Greig entered officer training at the Royal Naval College, Osborne, where he met Prince Albert, later George VI. He lived at Thatched House Lodge at the time. He served as a mentor for the gauche and diffident prince, and the two served together in HMS Cumberland, where he was posted as a surgeon. He was transferred to the Royal Marines in 1914, and was captured at the fall of Antwerp, spending eight months as a prisoner of war. Earlier his elder brother Robert C Greig of Capelrig, Renfrewshire had founded the firm of RC Greig stockbrokers of Glasgow and London, and his elder sister Constance had married John Scrimgeour, stockbroker in London.[1]

Released by a prisoner exchange, Greig married Phyllis Scrimgeour on 16 February 1916, by whom he had three children:[2]

Greig joined the company of HMS Malaya in June 1917, rejoining Prince Albert, and helped cure the prince of the severe peptic ulcers from which he suffered. During the next seven years, he was extensively in attendance on the Prince, receiving an appointment as an equerry to the Prince in 1918. Prince Albert and his Equerry both joined the Royal Air Force in 1919 (Greig rising to the rank of Wing Commander), and the two were partners at Wimbledon, an event which brought Greig's influence with the Prince into public light.[citation needed]

He continued to mentor and advise the Prince (created Duke of York, 1920), acting as a surrogate father and encouraging his social life. He encouraged the Duke of York's courtship of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, which was ultimately to have significant consequences for Greig's relations with the Duke. While he was made a CVO (26 April 1923) for his services, Elizabeth, as Duchess of York, gradually displaced him as an intimate of the Duke. Ultimately, Greig was omitted from a royal tour of the Balkans and consequently resigned his equerryship. However, he was created a Gentleman Usher in Ordinary on 1 March 1924. Greig's subsequent life was uneventful. He successfully joined J&A Scrimgeour (a firm connected with his wife) as a stockbroker.[citation needed]

He went into a brief eclipse under King Edward VIII, who disliked him, and resigned his ushership on 21 July 1936. However, upon the accession of his George VI, he was appointed an Extra Gentleman Usher (1 March 1937), and was also elected chairman of Wimbledon. He rejoined the RAF in 1939, serving as a liaison with the Air Ministry and reaching the rank of Group Captain. He was operated on for cancer in 1952, but succumbed in early 1953 and was buried in Ham, Surrey.[citation needed]

Hard right political sympathies[edit]

Greig was a staunch monarchist and a supporter of the British regime. As a stockbroker, he formed a friendship with Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald. Greig played a small role in the formation of the National Government, and was persuaded by MacDonald to accept a KBE on 3 June 1932, in which year he was also created deputy Ranger of Richmond Park. However, in earlier times, he was a member of the January Club, an establishment ginger group for the British Union of Fascists:[4]

"It was in the 1930s that British fascism had its first and so far only flowering in the form of Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF), formed on 1October 1932. Mosley had moved from the Tory Party to the Labour left to fascism, and formed the 'January Club' as a sort of discussion group / front organisation to attract establishment types to his blackshirt movement. Devotees of the January Club included Wing-Commander Sir Louis Greig, Lord Erskine (a Conservative-Unionist MP), Lord William Scott (brother of the 8th Duke of Buccleuch and Conservative-Unionist MP) and Lord and Lady Russell of Liverpool. The BUF. began to receive support from the influential Conservative press in the form of media baron Lord Rothermere, who's [sic] paper the Daily Mail backed Mosley enthusiastically, beginning with the infamous "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" headline of 8 January 1934."[5]

Sources[edit]

  • Bath, Richard (ed.) The Scotland Rugby Miscellany (Vision Sports Publishing Ltd, 2007; ISBN 1-905326-24-6)
  • Biography of Louis Greig - Louis and the Prince - by grandson Geordie Greig, published in 1999 by Hodder and Stoughton ISBN 0-340-72883-3
  • Goodwin, Terry Complete Who's Who of International Rugby (Cassell, 1987; ISBN 0-7137-1838-2)
  • Ziegler, Philip (2004). "Greig, Sir Louis Leisler (1880–1953)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 August 2007.  (subscription required)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bath, p117
  2. ^ "Greig Family Tree". Retrieved 7 August 2007. 
  3. ^ Tomlinson, Richard (20 Dec 1992). "They also serve, who only ush". Independent. 
  4. ^ Keeley, Thomas Norman BLACKSHIRTS TORN: Inside the British Union of Fascists, 1932-40, Simon Fraser University, 1995
  5. ^ Resistance to fascism

External links[edit]