|Lord Charles Willaim de la Poer Beresford GBC, GCVO, was the second son of the 4th Marquess of Waterford. He
joined the Royal Navy in 1859, and started his training as a cadet at the naval training academy HMS Britannia. He
became a lieutenant in 1874. He was a well-known and popular figure who courted publicity. He was widely known to the
British public as "Charlie B" and considered by many to be a kind of personification of John Bull and indeed was
normally accompanied by his trademark, a bulldog.
He entered Parliament as a Conservative in 1875, representing Waterford and retained his seat until 1880. Whilst an
MP he continued to serve in the navy, becoming a commander in 1875. He was aide-de-camp to the Prince of Wales,
later Edward VII, from 1875 until 1876, accompanying him on a visit to India. During his service under Edward VII, he
also involved romantically. The affair strained his friendship with Edward VII, even though Edward himself was married
to Alexandra of Denmark.
From 1878 until 1881 Beresford was second in command of the royal yacht HMS Osborne. He was captain of the
gunboat HMS Condor in 1882 when it took part in the bombardment of Alexandria during the Egyptian war of 1882 and
won admiration amongst the British public for taking his ship inshore to bombard the Egyptian batteries at close range.
During Woseley's Nile Campaign Beresford as Wolseley's Naval ADC commanded the river gunboat flotilla that
supported the overland advance on Khartoum.
In 1885 he was again elected to Parliament, this time as MP for Marylebone, and re-elected in the general election of
1886. Beresford constantly pushed for greater expenditure on the navy, resigning his seat in protest on this issue in
1888. The Naval Expenditure Act of 1889, which increased naval spending, was passed partly as a result of public
pressure resulting from this action. From 1889 until 1893 he was the captain of HMS Undaunted, which was part of the
In 1897 Beresford was promoted to rear-admiral and again entered Parliament, this time representing York. He retained
this seat until 1900, although he spent much of his time in China representing the Associated Chambers of Commerce,
and from 1900 onwards was second in command of the Mediterranean fleet.
He returned to Parliament in 1902, this time for Woolwich, but resigned in 1906 when he was promoted to admiral and
appointed chief of the Channel Fleet. He was in command of the Mediterranean Fleet from 1905 until 1907.
Beresford had a public and bitter dispute with the First Sea Lord, Sir John Fisher, over the reforms which the latter was
pushing through. Beresford returned to Parliament, representing Portsmouth when his term with the Channel Fleet
finished in 1909.
He remained an MP until 1916, although he retired from the navy in 1911. In 1916, he was raised to the peerage as
Baron Beresford. Lord Beresford died in 1919 at the age of 73.
Winston Churchill said of Beresford: He is one of those orators of whom it was well said, “Before they get up, they do not
know what they are going to say; when they are speaking, they do not know what they are saying; and when they have
sat down, they do not know what they have said.”
Alexander Bassano - Photographer
25 Old Bond Street, W., London, England