Colin Richard Keppel

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Sir Colin Richard Keppel
Commodore Colin Keppel, taken at the inspection of the fleet off Cowes 1907
Born (1862-12-03)3 December 1862
Died 6 July 1947(1947-07-06) (aged 84)
Winkfield, Berkshire
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service 1875–1913
Rank Admiral
Commands held Rear Admiral Commanding HM Yachts (1905–09)
HMY Victoria and Albert (1905)
HMS Implacable (1904–05)
HMS Grafton (1901–03)
HMS Warspite (1900–01)
HMS Rainbow (1900)
HMS Harrier (1897)
HMS Skipjack (1896–97)
Battles/wars Mahdist War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Order of Saint Stanislaus, 1st Class (Russia)
Order of the Red Eagle, 2nd Class (Prussia)

Admiral Sir Colin Richard Keppel GCVO, KCIE, CB, DSO (3 December 1862 – 6 July 1947)[1] was a British sailor and Extra Equerry to four kings.


He was the son of Admiral Sir Henry Keppel, younger son of William Keppel, 4th Earl of Albemarle, and his second wife Jane Elizabeth West, daughter of Martin John West.[2] His paternal uncles were Augustus Keppel, 5th Earl of Albemarle and George Keppel, 6th Earl of Albemarle, his maternal uncle was Sir Algernon Edward West.[1] He was educated at Temple Grove and entered the Royal Navy as cadet on the training ship HMS Britannia in 1875.[3]

Naval career[edit]

Keppel caricatured by Spy for Vanity Fair, 1909

Early years[edit]

Keppel served on HMS Sultan in the British Mediterranean Fleet until 1878 and was then transferred as midshipman to HMS Black Prince, the world's second ship with an iron hull.[3] He was aboard on HMS Wolverine in Sydney in the next year and was with HMS Inconstant in Asia until 1882.[3] With the outbreak of the Mahdist War, he was moved to HMS Duke of Wellington, the Commander-in-Chief's flagship in Portsmouth, then to HMS Iris, one of the first all steel ships, until 1884.[3] Subsequently, Keppel was promoted sub-lieutenant of HMS Invincible.[4] He served further on HMS Hibernia and became lieutenant on HMS Alexandria in 1885. A year later, Keppel was appointed equerry and flag lieutenant to Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha until 1893 and was then transferred to HMS Pearl.[3] He was with HMY Royal George in Portsmouth until 1895, became afterwards commander and sailed with HMS Skipjack to Gibraltar and with the torpedo gunboat HMS Harrier to Crete in 1897.[3]

On the Nile[edit]

In October of that year, on loan to the Egyptian Government, he commanded three gunboats on the Nile, which were despatched from the town of Berber, Sudan, recently captured by British forces commanded by Herbert Kitchener, south to attack Metemma, Sudan, which was held by Dervishes.[5] At dawn on 16 October the ships attacked enemy troops at Shendi, before shelling three forts on the bank of the Nile near Metamma, capturing some ships loaded with grain and then retiring.[5] They returned the following day to discover the defences had been reinforced with more artillery, but continued the bombardment from beyond range of the enemy guns.[5] Estimated Arab losses were 500 men, with one Soudanese soldier being killed on one of the gunboats.[5] Soon afterwards in the beginning of 1898, Keppel was as result awarded a Companion of the Order of the Bath and decorated with the Distinguished Service Order.[6]


For his services in Sudan, he received the thanks of the Parliament of the United Kingdom in June 1899[4] and became captain[7] commanding HMS Wildfire.[3] Keppel was transferred to HMS Spartan in the same year and to newly launched cruiser HMS Rainbow in 1900.[3] He subsequently commanded HMS Warspite, and when that ship was relieved as flagship on the Pacific Station by HMS Grafton in March 1902, he transferred to Grafton as flag captain to Sir Andrew Bickford, Commander-in-Chief of that station.[3][8] In 1905 he commanded the battleship HMS Implacable[3] and was appointed commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron.[6] Keppel was awarded a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1906 and,[9] after being promoted to rear admiral in 1908,[10] he was advanced to a Knight Commander.[11] He became second in command of the British Atlantic Fleet in 1909 and was first on HMS Albemarle, later on HMS London.[3] In 1911, he led RMS Medina on a voyage to India and was afterwards invested a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire.[12] Keppel was promoted vice admiral in 1913,[13] retiring few days later.[14] He was made a full admiral in 1917.[15] Keppel received the 1st Class of the Russian Order of St Stanislaus and the 2nd Class of the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle.[2]

Further career[edit]

Keppel served as Aide-de-Camp to King Edward VII from 1907 until the following year and as Extra Equerry from 1909.[1] After the king's death in 1910, Keppel was Extra Equerry to his successor King George V until 1912.[16] Keppel was nominated Equerry-in-Ordinary in 1913,[17] fulfilling this office for two years until his relinquishment in 1915, when he was again appointed Extra Equerry.[18] Subsequently he held this post also to King Edward VIII[19] and King George VI until 1937.[20]

Keppel became Serjeant-at-Arms of the British House of Commons in 1915,[21] resigning after twenty years.[22] In 1929, he was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.[23]


On 6 June 1889, he married Mary Blundell-Hollinshead-Blundell, daughter of Major General Richard Blundell-Hollinshead-Blundell, and had by her two daughters.[2] Marie, the older, was wife of Charles Marsham, 6th Earl of Romney, while her younger sister Melita had married Maurice Hely-Hutchinson.[6] Keppel died at his country residence, Grove Lodge, at Winkfield Row in Berkshire, aged 84 in 1947; his wife died ten years later.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "ThePeerage: Admiral Sir Colin Richard Keppel". Retrieved 16 December 2006. 
  2. ^ a b c Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1929). Armorial Families. vol. II. London: Hurst & Blackett. p. 1092. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "AIM25 – KEPPEL, Adm Sir Colin (Richard) (1862–1947)". Retrieved 26 July 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Who is Who 1947. London: Adam & Charles Black Ltd. 1947. p. 1518. 
  5. ^ a b c d Winston Churchill (1899). The River War (Volume 1). London: Longmans Green and Co. pp. 347–350. 
  6. ^ a b c Whitaker's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companioage. J. Whitaker & Sons. 1923. p. 460. 
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27087. p. 3588. 6 June 1899. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  8. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36638). London. 14 December 1901. p. 12. 
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27918. p. 3843. 1 June 1906. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28164. p. 5731. 4 August 1908. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28151. p. 4644. 23 June 1908. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28559. p. 9631. 8 December 1911. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28780. p. 9083. 9 December 1913. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28783. p. 9338. 19 December 1913. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: no. 30037. p. 3955. 27 April 1917. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28383. p. 4075. 10 June 1910. Retrieved 27 July 2009.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28678. p. 37. 3 January 1913. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: no. 29177. p. 5205. 1 June 1915. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34306. p. 4664. 20 July 1936. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34376. p. 1406. 2 March 1937. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  21. ^ The London Gazette: no. 29133. p. 3718. 16 April 1915. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  22. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34203. p. 6136. 1 October 1935. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  23. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 33566. p. 6. 31 December 1929. Retrieved 26 July 2009.