Power Palmer was born in June 1840, at Karnaul (Karnal), India, the son of Nicholas Palmer and Rebecca Carter Barrett. Educated at Cheltenham College, he was commissioned into the 5th Bengal Light Infantry in 1857. He took part in subduing the Indian Mutiny in 1857.
In 1880, he was appointed Assistant Adjutant-General in Bengal and in 1885 was Commander of the 9th Bengal Cavalry for the Suakin Expedition. In 1897 he took part in the Tirah Campaign. He was also General Officer Commanding 2nd Division during the action at Chagru Kotal.
In January 1898, he became Commander-in-Chief Punjab Command, and on 19 March 1900 he became Commander-in-Chief, India after the sudden death of Sir William Lockhart, holding this post for two and a half years.
″I believe an impression prevails in outside circles that either the Commander-in-Chief in India leads the viceroy by the nose, or, more rarely, the Viceroy leads the Commander-in-Chief. But there is a third alternative, which, after all, is more likely, and which my experience of two Commanders-in-Chief leads me unhesitatingly to endorse. It is that neither party is ahead of the other, but both are abreast.
I am confident that Sir A. Power Palmer will support me when I say that this has been the happy and unbroken nature of our collaboration.″
(Lord Curzon would later clash with Palmer’s successor, Lord Kitchener, and resign as a result.)