Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (1 & 2 March 2017)

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Date of Auction: 1st & 2nd March 2017

Sold for £1,100

Estimate: £1,400 - £1,800

The intriguing C.M.G. group of seven awarded to William F. A. Rattigan, H.M. Diplomatic Service, whose infidelity with Princess Elizabeth of Romania (later Queen of Greece) brought to an end his distinguished diplomatic career; by his wife he was the father of the celebrated playwright Terrence Rattigan

The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, C.M.G., Companion’s neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel, with neck cravat, in its damaged Garrard, London case of issue; 1914 Star (W. F. A. Rattigan); British War and Victory Medals (W. F. A. Rattigan); Coronation 1911; Coronation 1937; Romania, Kingdom, Commemorative Cross 1916-18, the six medals mounted as worn, good very fine and better (7) £1400-1800


C.M.G. London Gazette 5 June 1920. ‘First Secretary in His Majesty’s Diplomatic Service’.

William Frank Arthur Rattigan was born on 11 April 1879 and educated at Harrow and Magdalen College, Oxford. Nominated an Attaché, 23 December 1902, he was appointed to Vienna in April 1904 and transferred to The Hague in June the same year. Promoted to 3rd Secretary, August 1905 and 2nd Secretary, May 1909. Was a Gold Staff Officer at the Coronation of George V. Served in Cairo, 1912 and Berlin, 1913. With the start of the Great War, Rattigan was loaned to the War Office for service with the General Staff of the Army, attached to the 6th French Army and the Belgian Army, and was in France and Flanders from 13 August to 6 November 1914, being slightly wounded in an explosion at the front. He was transferred to Bucharest in February 1915 and was promoted to 1st Secretary in May 1916. With the collapse of Romania, Rattigan and his wife, Vera, were forced to make their way back to England. But they did not complete their escape from Eastern Europe until November 1917. By the time they arrived back in London, having survived starvation after the collapse of Romania and a spell in hospital in revolutionary Petrograd, Frank was so ill that he was unfit for service during most of 1918. Vera had cared devotedly for her injured husband throughout their hair-raising adventures in Romania and their protracted and dangerous journey home across Russia, then in the throes of the Revolution.

After the war he acted as Chargé d’Affaires at Bucharest, 22 April 1919-15 October 1920. For his services he was awarded the C.M.G. Promoted to be Counsellor of Embassy in the Diplomatic Service, November 1920, and transferred to Constantinople in February 1921, where he acted as Chargé d’Affaires, May-July 1921. He retired on a Pension on 1 December 1922 and died on 9 March 1952.

William Rattigan married Vera Houston in 1905. By her he had two sons, one of which was the celebrated playwright, Terence Rattigan (1911-77). Frank Rattigan’s life as a diplomat is vividly portrayed in his autobiography, Diversions of a Diplomat, 1924. An account of Terence Rattigan’s early life with his parents is given in Terence Rattigan a Biography, by Geoffrey Wansell. In the latter is a story of an affair his father had with Princess Elizabeth of Romania (later Queen of Greece) which resulted in a pregnancy and secret abortion. It suggests that this was one of the reasons behind his early (forced) retirement from the Diplomatic Service.

Sold with an original edition of Diversions of a Diplomat, by Frank Rattigan, copied m.i.c., Foreign Office List and Gazette extracts, and other research.

For the miniature dress medals worn by the recipient, see Lot 1099.