Henry Abel Smith KCMG KCVO

Henry Abel Smith KCMG KCVO (1900 - 1993)

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COL Sir Henry Abel Smith KCMG KCVO
Born in St George Hanover Square, London, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in St Mary's Church, Balcombe, Sussex, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Father of [private daughter (1930s - unknown)], and [private daughter (1930s - unknown)]
Died in Winkfield, Berkshire, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 5 Dec 2017
This page has been accessed 238 times.

Categories: Eton College | Royal Military College, Sandhurst | Royal Horse Guards | Queensland Governors | Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George | Knights of Justice of the Order of St John | Knights Commander of the Royal Victorian Order | Distinguished Service Order | Australian Notables | British Notables.



Henry Abel Smith KCMG KCVO is notable.
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Preceded by
Lieutenant General Sir John Dudley Lavarack KCMG KCVO KBE CB DSO
17th Governor of Queensland
18th March 1958 to 18th March 1966 Badge of the Governor of Queensland
Succeeded by
Sir Alan James Mansfield KCMG KCVO

Colonel Sir Henry Abel Smith KCMG KStJ KCVO DSO was a British Army officer who married a niece of King George V and Queen Mary and served as Governor of Queensland, Australia.

formative years

He was born Henry Abel Smith on 8th March 1900 at St George Hanover Square, London, England.[1] He was the second son Lieutenant Colonel Francis Abel Smith, a descendant of the prominent Smith banking family, and Madeline St Maur Seymour, a descendant of Edward Seymour, 8th Duke of Somerset.[2][3]

Abel Smith was tutored privately at home before attending Eton College and, subsequently, the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where on 17th December 1919 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Royal Horse Guards.[4] Between 1928-30 he served as aide-de-camp (ADC) to Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone (born Prince Alexander of Teck, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in South Africa).

royal marriage

On 24th October 1931, at St Mary's Church, Balcombe, Sussex, he married Lady May Cambridge, who had been born Princess May of Teck and was the only surviving child of his former commander the Earl of Athlone. They had three children:

  • Anne Mary Sibylla (1932-), married David Liddell-Grainger in 1957; they had five children but were divorced in 1981.
  • Colonel Richard Francis Abel Smith (1933-2004), married Marcia Kendrew in 1960 and had one daughter.
  • Elizabeth (1936-), married Peter Wise in 1965; they had one daughter who died as an infant and were divorced in 1975.

second world war

At the outbreak of war in 1939, he was deployed to Palestine and Iraq as a Major with the 1st Household Cavalry Regiment, one of two mechanised reconnaissance units formed by merging the Royal Horse Guards and the Life Guards. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, from 1941 to 1945, he commanded the 2nd Household Cavalry Regiment; leading it throughout the entire North West Europe campaign from June 1944 shortly after D-Day to Victory in Europe Day in May 1945. The unit won an enviable reputation and Abel Smith was appointed Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in February 1945.[5] In 1944 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and in 1946 to Colonel.

Back in London and promoted to acting Colonel (1946), he served on the staff of the Household Cavalry at Whitehall and worked closely with King George VI to revive the ceremonial life of the peacetime capital. Abel Smith was largely responsible for implementing the King’s wish for the cavalry to play an enhanced role in the parade of Trooping the Colour.

no more soldiering

In 1950 he was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO). That year he retired from the army to his estate, Barton Lodge, at Winkfield, Berkshire, where he and his wife bred Arab horses.

In 1953 he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Berkshire.

governor of Queensland

The Country and Liberal parties’ coalition government of Queensland sought a British vice-regal representative and announced Abel Smith's appointment in November 1957. He assumed office on 18th March 1958. A newspaper article suggested that the selection of the husband of Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin was ‘a compliment’ to Queensland, with the State’s centenary to be celebrated in 1959 (Courier-Mail 12 November 1957, 11). Queenslanders took an immediate liking to the couple and their popularity grew quickly. Both were regarded as approachable, energetic, jovial, sporty, and charming, and as ‘true party givers’ (Matheson 1957, 3). Demonstrating the respect Abel Smith had gained, his five-year term was extended by three years.

They travelled extensively throughout the State; invited the Australian Broadcasting Commission to Fernberg to film At Home at Government House; and hosted successful royal visits by Princess Alexandra in 1959, the Queen in 1963, and Lady May’s mother in 1964. From May to September 1965 he served as administrator of the Commonwealth of Australia. Abel Smith was further highly decorated, being appointed Knight of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (KStJ) in 1958 and Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1961. His term as governor expired on 18th March 1966. Thousands lined the streets of Brisbane to farewell him and his wife. The lord mayor, Alderman Clem Jones, declared that ‘nobody had ever done a better job as Governor than Sir Henry; probably nobody in the future would exceed what he had done’ (Courier-Mail 1966, 3). Abel Smith was the last British governor of Queensland.


The Abel Smiths returned to Barton Lodge, where they took an active part in country life and worked their Arab stud. Suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Sir Henry spent his last years in a nursing home, Wellington Lodge, Winkfield. He passed away there on 24th January 1993, aged 92 years. His funeral service took place at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, with his cremated remains were buried at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore. His wife survived him by only 16 months. They were both survived by their son and two daughters.


  1. UK FreeBMD Birth Index Jun qtr 1900, vol 1a, page 473
  2. "England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008," database, FamilySearch 1 October 2014
  3. "England & Wales Births, 1837-2006," database, findmypast 2012; citing Birth Registration, St. George Hanover Square, London, England, citing General Register Office, Southport, England
  4. London Gazette: Second Lieutenant Henry Abel Smith
  5. London Gazette: Lieutenant Colonel Henry Abel Smith DSO

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No known carriers of Henry's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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On 5 Dec 2017 at 21:25 GMT Sir William (Arbuthnot) Arbuthnot of Kittybrewster Bt wrote:

Smith-131179 and Abel Smith-11 appear to represent the same person because: Family known as Abel_Smith

Henry is 25 degrees from Walter Morrison, 30 degrees from Alison Wilkins and 4 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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