Special guests

HRH Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. The fate of Victoria and Albert’s third son was intertwined with Wellington College from the day he was born: May 1st 1850, the Duke of Wellington’s 81st birthday.

Prince Arthur and the Master, Robert Longden, watch the cricket from the Prince’s car, Speech Day 1940. Longden would be killed by a bomb which fell on College a few months later

The young prince was named Arthur in honour of the Duke, who became his godfather. A painting in the Royal Collection, entitled ‘The First of May’, shows the aged Duke presenting Arthur with a gift on his first birthday.

Queen Victoria when she laid the foundation stone of the College. He returned with her in 1859 for the official opening. At the age of twenty-five he became a Governor of the College, and in 1901 took over the Presidency when his elder brother became king.

forty years as President he was at twenty-five Speech Days, often presenting the prizes. His last visit was in 1941, at the age of ninety-one. Prince Arthur’s love for the College was sincere and much reciprocated by the Wellington community.

Wellington College’s portrait of Prince Arthur as a young man
Prince Arthur with his mother Queen Victoria at the opening of College, 1859

Sir Ian Hamilton

Ian Hamilton was a student at Wellington from 1867 to 1870. He had fond memories of his schooldays despite being regularly beaten by the Master.

In a notable military career he fought in Afghanistan, India, and the First and Second Boer Wars and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

By 1915 he was a senior general, and was put in command of the difficult and ultimately unsuccessful Gallipoli campaign. On Waterloo Day 1915, the College sent him a telegram reading ‘Your old school thinks of you with pride this June 18th, and wishes you God-speed in your great undertaking.’ Hamilton replied with a letter reproduced here, still in the College Archives, in which he writes of the difficulty of the campaign and his desire to live up to ‘the standards of effort and conduct inculcated at Wellington College.’

was in 1943, aged ninety, when in a short speech he reminded those present that he had ‘seen Queen Victoria here, in action, on our Quadrangles… and the fright I got in my youth has given me inspiration ever since, and courage in my old age.’

Ian Hamilton by John Singer Sargent (©National Galleries Scotland)
Letter from Ian Hamilton to Mr Vaughan, Master of Wellington College, 1915
Ian Hamilton (centre) on Speech Day 1940