Major Sir Ralph Anstruther.Bt. Master 1966-1968
It is with great sadness that we report the death of Sir Ralph Anstruther, aged 80. To give him his correct title - Major Sir Ralph Anstruther of that Ilk, 7th Baronet of Balcaskie and 12th Baronet of Anstruther, explains the era in which Sir Ralph grew up, explains the manners, the charm and the courtesy which Sir Ralph always showed. He was indeed a true courtier in the 19th century mould.
It was this upholding of tradition, this automatic display of manners and protocol which Sir Ralph brought to Clarence House where he was latterly Treasurer (Treasurer Emeritus) to the late Queen Mother, yet Sir Ralph also brought a sense of fun and style.
His father died in 1921 a month after Sir Ralph was born and Sir Ralph spent most of his childhood with his mother Madge, to whom he was devoted in Scotney Castle in Kent.
He succeeded to the 7th Baronetcy in 1934 at the age of 13 and in 1980 inherited the Baronetcy of the 11th Baronet and with it the title of Grand Carver to the Queen, an honour which had been in the family since 1585.
Sir Ralph was educated at Eton, obtained his degree at Magdalene College, Cambridge and entered the Army in the Coldstream Guards, where throughout his career he won the Military Cross in 1943 and was mentioned in despatches during the Malaysian Campaign in 1950.
He joined Clarence House in 1959 and was appointed CVO in 1967, KCVO in 1976 and GCVO in 1992. The family seat was in Fife at Balcaskie which belonged to the Anstruther family since 1698 and when not in Scotland, Sir Ralph had a home in Pratts Walk in South London.
Sir Ralph never married, yet during his Army days he cut a dash when out of uniform, dressed in a white planters suit and a Panama hat, driving his Rolls Royce. Sir Ralph was always in demand as a dancing partner and his name was linked romantically with many eligible ladies of the time.
He was a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the Queen's Body Guard for Scotland as well as being an active Bowyer, where he was admitted to the Livery in November 1942, became a Member of the Court in April 1962 and was Master in 1966/1968.
Sir Ralph always maintained strict sartorial standards, whatever the climate. In 1990 he joined the Queen Mother at a private view of mosaics in Sicily. He emerged from the Rolls Royce in a three piece suit, bowler hat in place, and clutching a tightly furled umbrella - the temperature was in the low 100's.
A junior equerry once was the recipient of a whispered admonishment through that immaculate white moustache that he was improperly dressed. The junior had forgotten his umbrella - but in his confusion the junior also probably missed the twinkle in Sir Ralph's eye.