As a keen member of the Meath Hunt, General Fraser V C went out frequently riding with Sisi in Ireland.
On many occasions Lieutenant General Sir Charles Craufurd Fraser VC KCB was in the field with Empress Elisabeth. He was four when his father Sir James Fraser Bart died in Dorset. General Fraser joined his father’s regiment the 7th Hussars and he served in India during the Indian Mutiny uprising. In 1858 under fire and still recovering from earlier battle injuries, General Fraser swam the Raptee River to rescue men threatened with imminent drowning. For this General Fraser was awarded the Victoria Cross (V C). He also wore the Silver Medal of the Royal Humane Society although oddly it is claimed the society had no record of making the award.
General Fraser served in Abyssinia in 1867-68 and was promoted to Colonel in the 8th Hussars. In the 1870s he was aide-de-camp to the Duke of Cambridge, the head of the army, for four years. In 1879, the year that Sisi first visited Ireland, General Fraser took over command of the Curragh camp. In 1880, the year of Sisi’s second visit, he was made Inspecting General of Cavalry in Ireland and then switched to the post of Inspecting General of Cavalry in Great Britain and the Cavalry Brigade at Aldershot in 1884.
He lived at Bective in Meath where he entertained the Viceroy Earl and Countess Spencer. When the Midland Great Western Railway Company sought to reduce the number of trains through Bective in 1882 Fraser objected at a public inquiry. He said ‘his was a great hunting district, and the officers of the Curragh hunted with the Meath Hounds five days in the week during the season.’ He made the inquiry laugh when he added that for his own part he travelled between his residences and the Curragh by all trains, and they were generally not punctual except on two occasions when the Chairman was on board.
From 1885 to 1892 General Fraser was Conservative M P for Lambeth North in south London. His interventions in the House of Commons were almost exclusively on army matters and he pursued the interests of officers who had purchased their commissions prior to the reforms of 1870 that abolished the practice. In 1887 Fraser attacked the Irish nationalist land agitators and told Parliament ‘The words and acts of the Nationalist Leaders during the last six years rendered it impossible to hand over to them the welfare of Ireland any more than Burmah could be handed over to Dacoits, Egypt to a Mahdi, or the Cape to the Zulus.’
The Globe’s obituary said of General Fraser: ‘I can well remember him canvassing the working men electors. He used to stand on the Surrey side of the bridges as the men went to work in the early hours of the morning. In Parliament he devoted his whole energies to the interests of the purchase officers, who owe him a deep debt of gratitude. He was a smart, handsome-looking man, well-known in London society, and belonged to every smart club in town.’
Permission for use of photo from Stephen Luscombe of www.britishempire.co.uk