He was born near Morpeth in Northumberland where his father was stationed. He followed his father by joining the army and he served with the Royal Field Artillery but his military career was cut short following a riding accident. French was also a talented artist, something which did not endear him to his father.
He succeeded his father as 2nd Earl of Ypres following his death on the 22 May 1925.
During the Second World War he commanded a battalion of the Home Guard.