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The Royal Military College was conceived by Colonel John Le Marchant, whose scheme for establishing schools for the military instruction of officers at High Wycombe and Great Marlow first met strong resistance on the grounds of cost.
There were already some small private military academies for aspiring infantry and cavalry officers in existence, notably one which had been operated at Chelsea by Lewis Lochée from about 1770 until he wound it up in 1790. But none of them had any formal approval by the British government.
On the outbreak of the Second World War, many of the cadets and staff of the Royal Military College were mobilised for active service, but the buildings at Sandhurst remained the home of the RMC's 161 Infantry Officer Cadet Training Unit. In 1942, this unit moved to Mons Barracks, Aldershot, and for the rest of the war the Sandhurst campus was used as a Royal Armoured Corps Officer Cadet Training Unit.
In 1947, a new Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was formed on the site of the Royal Military College, merging the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich (which had trained officers for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers from 1741 to 1939) and the Royal Military College (1802 to 1942), with the objective of providing officer training for all arms and services.
The Royal Military College was originally led by a Governor, who was a figurehead, often non-resident, a Lieutenant Governor, who had actual day-to-day command of the college, and a Commandant, who was the officer in charge of the cadets. In 1812, the posts of Lieutenant Governor and Commandant were merged into the role of Commandant. In 1888 the two remaining senior posts, Governor and Commandant, were merged into the single appointment of Governor and Commandant, which in 1902 was retitled as "Commandant".
^G. E. Cokayne et. al., The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, vol. XIII (Gloucester: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000) p. 258