Alan Lascelles

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Captain The Right Honourable
Sir Alan Lascelles
Private Secretary to the Sovereign
In office
Monarch George VI
Elizabeth II
Preceded by Major The Rt. Hon. Sir Alexander Hardinge
Succeeded by Lt. Col. The Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Adeane
Personal details
Born 11 April 1887
Died 10 August 1981(1981-08-10) (aged 94)
Nationality British
Alma mater Trinity College, Oxford

Sir Alan Frederick "Tommy" Lascelles GCB GCVO CMG MC (11 April 1887 – 10 August 1981) was a British courtier and civil servant who held several positions in the first half of the twentieth century, culminating in his position as Private Secretary to both King George VI and to Queen Elizabeth II. He wrote the Lascelles Principles in a 1950 letter to the editor of The Times, using the pen-name "Senex".


Lascelles (usually pronounced to rhyme with "tassels") was known to his intimates as "Tommy." He was born the son of Commander The Hon. Frederick Canning Lascelles and Frederica Maria Liddell, and the grandson of Henry Lascelles, 4th Earl of Harewood. He was thus a cousin of Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, who married Mary, the Princess Royal, sister of Alan's employers, Edward VIII and George VI.

After schooling at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Oxford, Lascelles served in France with the Bedfordshire Yeomanry during the First World War, after which he became the Aide-de-Camp to his brother-in-law Lord Lloyd, the Governor of Bombay from 1919 to 1920.

He then returned to England and was appointed Assistant Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales. From 1931 to 1935 he was Secretary to the Governor General of Canada. He became the Assistant Private Secretary to King George V and later King George VI in 1936, and in 1943 rose to Private Secretary to King George VI. In 1952 he became Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II, a role he held until 1953.

He was also Keeper of the Royal Archives from 1943 to 1953.

His papers are now held in the Churchill Archives Centre, in Great Britain.

Though married, he was openly homosexual.[1][2]

He died at the age of 94.


On 16 March 1920 he married Joan Frances Vere Thesiger (1895-1971).

They had three children:

  • John Frederick Lascelles, born 11 June 1922, died 11 September 1951.
  • Lavinia Joan Lascelles, born 27 June 1923; married to Major Edward Westland Renton, then briefly to the writer Gavin Maxwell.
  • Caroline Mary Lascelles, born 15 February 1927; married 1949 to Antony Alfred Lyttelton 2nd Viscount Chandos; then 1985 to David Erskine, son of Lord Erskine.

Honours and Awards[edit]

Order of the Bath UK ribbon.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB)
Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO)
Ord.St.Michele-Giorgio.png Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG)
Military Cross ribbon.png Military Cross (MC)
1914 Star BAR.svg 1914–15 Star
British War Medal BAR.svg British War Medal
Victory Medal MID ribbon bar.svg Victory Medal with palm for Mentioned in Dispatches
GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png King George V Silver Jubilee Medal (1935)
GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png King George VI Coronation Medal (1937)
UK Queen EII Coronation Medal ribbon.svg Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal (1953)
Legion Honneur GO ribbon.svg Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)

Further reading[edit]

  • The Papers of Sir Alan Lascelles, Churchill Archives Centre
  • End of an era: letters and journals of Sir Alan Lascelles 1887-1920 (Hamish Hamilton, London. 1986) edited by Duff Hart-Davis.
  • In Royal Service: the Letters and Journals of Sir Alan Lascelles 1920-1936 (Hamish Hamilton, London. 1989) edited by Duff Hart-Davis.
  • King's Counsellor: Abdication and War: the Diaries of Tommy Lascelles (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London. 2006) edited by Duff Hart-Davis.


Court offices
Preceded by
Sir Alexander Hardinge
Private Secretary to the Sovereign
Succeeded by
Michael Adeane