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DateOriginal Topic
17th November 2003Duke of Cambridge's censure of Richard Harrison
By John Young
Does anyone have details of the letter of censure sent by the Duke of Cambridge to Colonel Richard Harrison, Royal Engineers, over his conduct relating to the death of the Pince Imperial?

I cannot find it quoted in the usual books on the subject, or the collected archives of the matter. Does anyone have the full content?

John Y.
17th November 2003Mike McCabe
Not the letters themselves, but I think that the Norris Newman book includes the findings themselves and the DofC's commentary on the findings of the Carey Court Martial. Harrison had arrived in Natal as a Lt Col in command of 30 Fd Coy RE (a Major's appointment). On arrival, he was almost immediately transferred to the staff, handing over his Company command to Capt Bindon Blood. The ignominy of being criticised by the Commander in Chief (who was also Colonel in Chief of the Royal Engineers at the time) seems not to have done long term career damage. Harrison retired as General Sir Richard Harrison . However, Old Harrovians do tend to look after each other, and there were plenty about!
17th November 2003AMB
Have you already refered to Blood's & Harrison's autobiographies? Sorry, but can't remember their exact details, but I assume that they'll hold the info that you are after. I will look in my library if you don't have copies easily to hand.
17th November 2003John Young

Thanks for that for that, yes found it there. It is just that I found an obscure reference to it in a Queen Victoria 1887 Jubilee book, that stated that Carey was sentenced to death, and Harrison should have been cashiered. The date of this letter tallies with Ellice's comments.

Thanks also, Mike's hint has solved the problem.


John Y.
18th November 2003Trevor
Any chance of a brief insight into the story behind the enquiry please?
In other words. What happened?
18th November 2003AMB

Roger your last.
I did have a look at both Blood & Harrison: p178 of Harrison talks of a letter, but no exact details except to say that Harrison's conduct had been questioned; Blood does even mention Harrison - which might say alot!
18th November 2003John Young

Richard Harrison, R.E., was the Prince Imperial's 'commanding officer' in his guise as Lord Chelmsford's Assistant Quartermaster-General.

General Sir Charles H. Ellice, the Adjutant General wrote on behalf on His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge -'...Lieutenant-Colonel Harrison doubtless believed that in his arrangements for the expedition he had sufficiently complied with Lord Chelmsford's instructions to himself. In the opinion of the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief he was mistaken. His orders to Lieutenant Carey were not sufficiently explicit, and he failed to impress upon the Prince the duty of deferring to the military orders of the officer who accompanied him, and the necessity of guiding himself by his advice and experience.

If Lieutenant-Colonel Harrison had displayed more firmness and forethought in his instructions to Lieutenant Carey and to the Prince, His Royal Highness cannot but think that that train of events would have been averted, which resulted in bringing a handful of men, in the middle of the enemy's country, into a position so well calculated to invite surprise and to court disaster. ...'

John Y.
19th November 2003Trevor
Sounds like the Prince was killed in an Ambush!
Was Lieutenant Carey killed?
What instructions was Carey given?
Where were they going to when attacked?
You've got me interested!

20th November 2003Steven Sass
To get the story in the limited space afforded by an internet discussion would probably be a disservice to yourself and to those who would be a tad hard pressed to condense the affair whilst doing it justice. My suggestion would be to read one of the two books that most specifically and comprehensively treat the subject. The older of the two is "Captain Carey's Blunder" by Donald Featherstone, published in 1973 and most likely out of print. The more current work is "With His Face to the Foe" by Ian Knight, published in 2001 by Spellmount LTD. It's easily obtainable from most major book sellers and is an excellent read. I believe by reading these works first, the advanced discussion offered by John, Mike and Andrew will make more sense.

Hope this helps,
20th November 2003John Young

You could try the following link on this site for a brief background.
20th November 2003Steven Sass

Sorry, I forgot about the link.

Trevor, the link John suggests describes saga of the Prince Imperial quite comprehensively.
20th November 2003Trevor
Thanks very much lads.

Will try the link first!

Not much of a book reader I'm afraid.
Thanks again.
20th November 2003Peter Ewart

You don't know what you're missing!!!


Quite agree. In my opinion "With His Face to the Foe" is without doubt Ian Knight's best book yet.

3rd December 2003Martin Heyes
Seem to remember a rather impressive statue of the Prince Imperial in the grounds of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. I am going back just over 30 yrs though - memory could be playing tricks!!

Not sure either what use or interest this would be to anyone - but you never know!
3rd December 2003Peter Ewart
Still there, Martin.