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Sir Alan Frederick Lascelles GCB GCVO CMG MC (/ˈlæsəls/; 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".

The Right Honourable
Sir Alan Lascelles
Sir Alan Lascelles.jpg
Lascelles in 1943
Private Secretary to the Sovereign
In office
Preceded by Sir Alexander Hardinge
Succeeded by Sir Michael Adeane
Assistant Private Secretary to the Sovereign
In office
Monarch George V
Edward VIII
George VI
Secretary to the Governor General of Canada
In office
Governor General The Earl of Bessborough
Preceded by Sir Eric Miéville
Succeeded by Shuldham Redfern
Personal details
Born (1887-04-11)11 April 1887
Sutton Waldron, Dorset, England
Died 10 August 1981(1981-08-10) (aged 94)
Kensington, London, England
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Joan Frances Vere Thesiger (m. 1920; d. 1971)
Alma mater Trinity College, Oxford
Military service
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1913-1938
Rank Captain
Unit Bedfordshire Yeomanry

World War I

Awards Military Cross


Early life and educationEdit

Sir Alan was known to his intimates as "Tommy".[1] He was born on 11 April 1887 in the village of Sutton Waldron in Dorset, England, the son of Commander Frederick Canning Lascelles and Frederica Maria Liddell, and the grandson of Henry Lascelles, 4th Earl of Harewood.[2] He was thus a cousin of Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, who married Mary, Princess Royal, sister of his employers, Edward VIII and George VI.

After attending school at Marlborough College, followed by Trinity College, Oxford, Lascelles served in France with the Bedfordshire Yeomanry during the First World War, where he rose to the rank of Captain and was awarded the Military Cross, after which he became the aide-de-camp to his brother-in-law Lord Lloyd, the Governor of Bombay from 1919 to 1920.


Lascelles then returned to Britain and was appointed Assistant Private Secretary to Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1920, serving in that role until he resigned in 1929, citing differences with the prince. From 1931 to 1935, he was Secretary to the Governor General of Canada.

Lascelles became the Assistant Private Secretary to King George V in 1935.

When the Prince of Wales ascended to the throne as King Edward VIII, upon the death of King George V, in January 1936, Lascelles served briefly as the new King's private secretary. Then, when Edward VIII abdicated in December 1936, Lascelles became private secretary to King George VI, some time after the new king's accession.[3][page needed]

Lascelles was knighted by King George VI, while aboard a train, during the highly successful 1939 royal tour of Canada and the United States, which he had helped to arrange and manage.[3][page needed]

In 1943, Sir Alan was promoted to Private Secretary to King George VI. In 1952, he became Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II, a role he held until 1953.

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

Sir Alan's papers are now held in the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College, Cambridge.

Personal lifeEdit

On 16 March 1920, Sir Alan 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 Lyttelton, 2nd Viscount Chandos; then 1985 to David Erskine, son of Lord Erskine.


Sir Alan Lascelles died on 10 August 1981 at Kensington Palace at the age of 94.

In popular cultureEdit

He is portrayed by Pip Torrens in the Netflix series The Crown.

In the movie The King's Speech, he is played by Richard Dixon, although the movie credits only state "Private Secretary".

Honours and awardsEdit




Lascelles, Alan (2006). Hart-Davis, Duff, ed. King's Counsellor: Abdication and War: The Diaries of Tommy Lascelles. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-85155-4. 
Prochaska, Frank (2004). "Lascelles, Sir Alan Frederick (1887-1981), Courtier". In Matthew, H. C. G.; Harrison, Brian; Goldman, Lawrence. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31334. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. 

Further readingEdit

Lascelles, Alan (1986). Hart-Davis, Duff, ed. End of an Era, 1887–1920. The Letters and Journals of Sir Alan Lascelles. 1. London: Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 978-0-241-11960-0. 
 ———  (1989). Hart-Davis, Duff, ed. In Royal Service, 1920–1936. The Letters and Journals of Sir Alan Lascelles. 2. London: Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 978-0-241-12562-5. 


Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Eric Miéville
Secretary to the Governor General of Canada
Succeeded by
Shuldham Redfern
Court offices
Preceded by
Sir Alexander Hardinge
Private Secretary to the Sovereign
Succeeded by
Michael Adeane