- Grazebrook, A.W., Lietutenant Commander
- History - WW2
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1975 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
In 1919, HM King George V offered Halsey a temporary appointment as Chief of Staff to HRH The Prince of Wales for a forthcoming Royal visit to Canada. Although he remained on the active list until 1922, the Royal visit heralded the end of Halsey’s naval career. Halsey was an immediate success so, in 1920, he was appointed Comptroller and Treasurer to the Prince of Wales. Halsey held this appointment until the Prince ascended the Throne in January 1936, as HM King Edward VIII.
Halsey’s post as Comptroller and Treasurer involved being the Prince’s closest adviser. Halsey soon had the confidence of both King and Prince – a confidence which enabled him to ensure the smooth handling of the business between the King and the Prince. The Prince relied heavily upon Halsey’s advice. Halsey valued the Prince’s respect and friendship. The difficulties preceding the abdication must have been trying for Halsey, with the need to balance his wish to further the happiness of the King against the necessity for giving the advice most beneficial to the Kingdom.
Service with the Prince of Wales involved participating in Royal Tours of Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, South Africa, and South America. Loath to give up his rural home, garden, fishing and shooting, Halsey continued to live at Biggleswade, although he had rooms in London (at St. James’s Palace) to facilitate attendance at official evening functions.
After the abdication, Halsey retired from his full time position at Buckingham Palace. King George VI appointed him Extra Naval Equerry. During his time with the Royal Family, and in the Royal Navy, Halsey had been created Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order and Knight Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire.
Allied Governments had recognised Halsey’s services with the award of the Legion of Honour (France), the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan), the Order of St. Vladimir and St. Anne (Imperial Russia), the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Nile (Egypt), and the American Distinguished Service Order.
In his retirement, Halsey remained active. He assumed the Chairmanship of the Navy League, a Regional Chairmanship of the British Legion and assumed several positions of responsibility in the County of Bedfordshire. In World War II, Halsey became Commodore of the Sea Cadet Corps, and found time to become an active member of the Home Guard. At the end of the War, Halsey gave up a number of his positions, but remained President of the Navy League until his death on 26th October 1949.
Arthur J. Marder, probably the most objective historian of this period of naval history, has described Lionel Halsey as ‘one of the most popular Officers of his day – a delightful, outgoing, frank person, a fine leader, a very zealous and competent Officer, who might have gone to the very top after the War but for his acceptance of a Court Appointment.‘
(The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance given to him by Admiral Halsey’s daughter (Mrs. George L. Wood), and by Mr. J. Ware and Mr. Mackenzie (successive Historians to the Royal Australian Navy).