Prince George, Duke of Kent

Last updated

Prince George
Duke of Kent
Prince George, Duke of Kent.jpg
Born(1902-12-20)20 December 1902
Sandringham, Norfolk, England
Died25 August 1942(1942-08-25) (aged 39)
Morven, Caithness, Scotland
Burial29 August 1942
Spouse
Issue
Full name
George Edward Alexander Edmund
House
Father George V
Mother Mary of Teck
Military career
Service/branch
Years of service1916–42
Rank
Battles/wars

Prince George, Duke of Kent, KG , KT , GCMG , GCVO (George Edward Alexander Edmund; 20 December 1902 – 25 August 1942) was a member of the British royal family, the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary. He was the younger brother of Edward VIII and George VI. He served in the Royal Navy in the 1920s and then briefly served as a civil servant. He became Duke of Kent in 1934. In the late 1930s he served as an RAF officer, initially as a staff officer at RAF Training Command and then, from July 1941, as a staff officer in the Welfare Section of the RAF Inspector General's Staff. He was killed in a military air-crash on 25 August 1942.

British royal family Family consisting of close relatives of the monarch of the United Kingdom

The British royal family comprises Queen Elizabeth II and her close relations. There is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member of the British royal family.

Mary of Teck 20th-century queen consort of the United Kingdom and Empress of India

Mary of Teck was Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Empress of India as the wife of King George V.

Edward VIII King of the United Kingdom and its dominions in 1936

Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire, and Emperor of India, from 20 January 1936 until his abdication on 11 December the same year, after which he became the Duke of Windsor.

Contents

Both before and after his marriage, Prince George had a string of affairs with both men and women, from socialites to Hollywood celebrities.

Early life

Prince George (far right) with his siblings in 1912 Princejohnandfamily.jpg
Prince George (far right) with his siblings in 1912

Prince George was born on 20 December 1902 at York Cottage on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England. [1] His father was the Prince of Wales (later King George V), the only surviving son of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. His mother was the Princess of Wales (later Queen Mary), the only daughter and eldest child of the Duke and Duchess of Teck. At the time of his birth, he was fifth in the line of succession to the throne, behind his father and three older brothers Edward, Albert and Henry.

York Cottage house in the grounds of the Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk, England

York Cottage is a house in the grounds of Sandringham House in Norfolk, England.

Sandringham House Country house in Norfolk, England, private home of Queen Elizabeth II

Sandringham House is a country house in the parish of Sandringham, Norfolk, England. It is the private home of Elizabeth II, whose father, George VI, and grandfather, George V, both died there. The house stands in a 20,000-acre (8,100 ha) estate in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The house is listed as Grade II* along with its landscaped gardens, park, and woodlands.

Francis, Duke of Teck British Army general

Francis, Duke of Teck GCB GCVO, known as Count Francis von Hohenstein until 1863, was an Austrian-born nobleman who married into the British royal family. He was the father of Queen Mary, and thus a great-grandfather of the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Francis held the Austrian title of Count of Hohenstein, and the German titles of Prince (Fürst) and later Duke of Teck, and was given the style of Serene Highness in 1863. He was granted the British style of Highness in 1887.

George was baptised in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on 26 January 1903 by Francis Paget, Bishop of Oxford. [2] [3]

Windsor Castle Royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire

Windsor Castle is a royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire. It is notable for its long association with the English and later British royal family and for its architecture.

Francis Paget British bishop

Francis Paget was an English theologian, author and the 33rd Bishop of Oxford.

The Bishop of Oxford is the diocesan bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Oxford in the Province of Canterbury; his seat is at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. The current bishop is Steven Croft, following the confirmation of his election to the See on 6 July 2016.

Education and career

Prince George received his early education from a tutor and then followed his elder brother, Prince Henry (later the Duke of Gloucester), to St Peter's Court, a preparatory school at Broadstairs, Kent. At the age of thirteen, like his brothers, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) and Prince Albert (later King George VI), before him, he went to naval college, first at Osborne and, later, at Dartmouth. [1] He was promoted to sub-lieutenant on 15 February 1924, [4] and was promoted to lieutenant on 15 February 1926. [5] He remained on active service in the Royal Navy until March 1929, serving on HMS Iron Duke and later HMS Nelson. [1]

Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester British soldier and Governor-General of Australia

Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was the third son and fourth child of King George V and Queen Mary. He served as Governor-General of Australia from 1945 to 1947, the only member of the British royal family to hold the post.

St Peter's Court was a prep school for boys at Broadstairs in Kent, U.K. In 1969 it merged with the nearby Wellesley House School and its site was redeveloped for housing.

Preparatory school (United Kingdom) in the UK, school preparing children for secondary level

A preparatory school in the United Kingdom is a fee-charging independent primary school that caters primarily for children up to approximately the age of 13. The term "preparatory school" is used as it prepares the children for the Common Entrance Examination to secure a place at a private independent secondary school, including the British public schools. They are also now used by parents in the hope of getting their child into a state selective grammar school. Most prep schools are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), which is overseen by Ofsted on behalf of the Department for Education.

After leaving the navy, he briefly held posts at the Foreign Office and later the Home Office, becoming the first member of the royal family to work as a civil servant. [1] He continued to receive promotions after leaving active service: to commander on 15 February 1934 and to captain on 1 January 1937. [6] [7]

From January to April 1931 Prince George and his elder brother the Prince of Wales travelled 18,000 miles on a tour of South America. Their outward voyage was on the ocean liner Oropesa. [8] In Buenos Aires they opened a British Empire Exhibition. [9] They continued from the River Plate to Rio de Janeiro on the liner Alcantara and returned from Brazil to Europe on the liner Arlanza, landing at Lisbon. [10] The princes returned via Paris and an Imperial Airways flight from Paris–Le Bourget Airport that landed specially in Windsor Great Park. [11] [12]

South America A continent in the Western Hemisphere, and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere

South America is a continent in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It may also be considered a subcontinent of the Americas, which is how it is viewed in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking regions of the Americas. The reference to South America instead of other regions has increased in the last decades due to changing geopolitical dynamics.

Ocean liner Ship designed to transport people from one seaport to another

An ocean liner is a passenger ship primarily used as a form of transportation across seas or oceans. Liners may also carry cargo or mail, and may sometimes be used for other purposes.

SS Oropesa was a British steam turbine ocean liner of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company (PSNC). She was built on Merseyside in 1920 and operated between Liverpool and South America. In 1941 the German submarine U-96 sank her in the Western Approaches, killing 106 people aboard.

On 23 June 1936, George was appointed a personal aide-de-camp to his eldest brother, the new King Edward VIII. [13] Following the abdication of Edward VIII, he was appointed a personal naval aide-de-camp to his elder brother, now George VI. [14] On 12 March 1937, he was commissioned as a Colonel in the British Army and in the equivalent rank of Group Captain in the Royal Air Force (RAF). [15] He was also appointed as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Fusiliers from the same date. [16]

In October 1938 George was appointed Governor-General of Australia in succession to Lord Gowrie with effect from November 1939. [17] [18] On 11 September 1939 it was announced that, owing to the outbreak of the Second World War, the appointment was postponed. [19]

On 8 June 1939, George was promoted to the ranks of Rear-Admiral (RA) in the Royal Navy (RN), Major-General (MG) in the British Army and Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) in the Royal Air Force (RAF). [20] At the start of the Second World War, George returned to active military service with the rank of Rear Admiral, briefly serving on the Intelligence Division of the Admiralty.

Marriage and issue

The Duke and Duchess in 1934 The Duke and Duchess of Kent.jpg
The Duke and Duchess in 1934

On 12 October 1934, in anticipation of his forthcoming marriage to his second cousin, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, he was created Duke of Kent, Earl of St Andrews, and Baron Downpatrick. [21] [22] The couple married on 29 November 1934 at Westminster Abbey. [23] They had three children:

Personal life

Both before and after his marriage, Prince George had a string of affairs with both men and women, from socialites to Hollywood celebrities. The better known of his lovers included banking heiress Poppy Baring, socialite Margaret Whigham (later Duchess of Argyll and involved in a notoriously scandalous divorce case), and Barbara Cartland (who believed him to be the father of her daughter Raine McCorquodale).

There were "strong rumours" that he had affairs with musical star Jessie Matthews, [24] writer Cecil Roberts [25] and Noël Coward, [26] a relationship which Coward's long-term boyfriend, Graham Payn, denied. [27] The security services "reported that Coward and Kent had been seen parading together through the streets of London, dressed and made up as women, and had once been arrested by the police for suspected prostitution". [28]

Portrait by Philip de Laszlo, 1934 Duke of Kent1934.jpg
Portrait by Philip de László, 1934

The Duke of Kent is rumoured to have been addicted to drugs, especially morphine and cocaine, a rumour which reputedly originated with his friendship with Kiki Preston, [29] [30] [31] whom he first met in the mid-1920s. Reportedly, Prince George shared Kiki in a ménage à trois with Argentinian Jorge Ferrara. [32] Other alleged sexual liaisons were with the art historian and Soviet spy Anthony Blunt, Indira Raje, Maharani of Cooch Behar, [24] and José Uriburu, son of the Argentinian ambassador to the Court of St James's, José Uriburu Tezanos. [33]

In his attempt to rescue his cocaine-addicted brother from the influence of Kiki, Edward, Prince of Wales, attempted for a while to persuade both George and Kiki to break off their contact, to no avail. [34] Eventually, Edward forced George to stop seeing Kiki and also forced Kiki to leave England, while she was visiting George there in the summer of 1929. [35] For years afterwards, Edward feared that George might relapse to drugs if he maintained his contact with Kiki. Indeed, in 1932, Prince George ran into Kiki unexpectedly at Cannes and had to be removed almost by force. [36]

It has been alleged for years that American publishing executive Michael Temple Canfield (19261969) was the illegitimate son of the Duke of Kent and Kiki Preston. According to various sources, both Kent's brother, the Duke of Windsor, and Laura, Duchess of Marlborough, Canfield's second wife, shared this belief. [37] [38] [39] [40] Canfield was the adopted son of Cass Canfield, American publisher of Harper and Row. [41] In 1953 Canfield married Caroline Lee Bouvier the younger sister of Jacqueline Bouvier who married US Senator and future US president John F. Kennedy the same year. Canfield and Bouvier divorced in 1959, and the marriage was annulled by the Roman Catholic Church in November 1962. [42]

RAF career

The Duke of Kent before he crossed the Atlantic by air Royal Air Force Ferry Command, 1941-1943. CH3161.jpg
The Duke of Kent before he crossed the Atlantic by air

As a young man the duke came to the opinion that the future lay in aviation. It became his passion, and in 1929 the duke earned his pilot's licence. He was the first of the royal family to cross the Atlantic by air. Prior to his flying days, he entered the Royal Navy, and was trained in intelligence work while stationed at Rosyth. [43]

In March 1937, he was granted a commission in the Royal Air Force as a group captain. [44] He was also made the Honorary Air Commodore of No. 500 (County of Kent) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in August 1938. [45] [46] He was promoted to air vice-marshal in June 1939, along with promotions to flag and general officer rank in the other two services. [20]

In 1939 he returned to active service as a Rear Admiral in the Royal Navy, but subsequently, in April 1940, transferred to the Royal Air Force. He temporarily relinquished his rank as an air officer to assume the post of staff officer at RAF Training Command in the rank of group captain, [47] so that he would not be senior to more experienced officers. On 28 July 1941, he assumed the rank of Air Commodore in the Welfare Section of the RAF Inspector General's Staff. [48] In this role, he went on official visits to RAF bases to help boost wartime morale. [49]

Freemasonry

Prince George was initiated into freemasonry on 12 April 1928 in Navy Lodge No 2612. He subsequently served as Master of Navy Lodge in 1931, and was also a member of Prince of Wales's Lodge No 259, and Royal Alpha Lodge No 16, of which he served as Master in 1940. He was appointed Senior Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1933, and served as Provincial Grand Master of Wiltshire from 1934, until he was elected Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1939 - a position he held until his death in 1942 [50]

Death

George, Duke of Kent, died on 25 August 1942, at the age of 39, along with thirteen others, on board RAF Short Sunderland flying boat W4026, which crashed into a hillside near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland, while flying from Invergordon, Ross and Cromarty, to Iceland on non-operational duties. [51]

Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince alleged in their book Double Standards, which has been criticised for its "implausible inaccuracy", [52] that Kent had a briefcase full of 100-krona notes, worthless in Iceland, handcuffed to his wrist, leading to speculation the flight was a military mission to Sweden, the only place where krona notes were of value. [53]

His death while in the service of the RAF marked the first time in more than 450 years that a member of the royal family died on active service. [54] The Prince's body was transferred initially to St. George's Chapel, Windsor, and he was buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, directly behind Queen Victoria 's mausoleum. His elder son, six-year-old Prince Edward, succeeded him as Duke of Kent. Princess Marina, his wife, had given birth to their third child, Prince Michael, only seven weeks before Prince George's death.

One RAF crew member Flight Sergeant Andrew Jack, the Sunderland's rear gunner, survived the crash on Eagle's Rock near Caithness. [55] His niece has claimed that Jack told his brother that the Duke had been at the controls of the plane; that he had dragged him from the pilot's seat after the crash; and that there was an additional person on board the plane whose identity has never been revealed. [56]

The Duke's early life is dramatised in Stephen Poliakoff's television serial The Lost Prince (2003), a biography of the life of the Duke's younger brother John. In the film, the teenage Prince 'Georgie' is portrayed as sensitive, intelligent, artistic and almost uniquely sympathetic to his brother's plight. He is shown as detesting his time at the Royal Naval College and as having a difficult relationship with his austere father.

Much of George's later life was outlined in the documentary film The Queen's Lost Uncle. [57] He is a recurring character in the revival of Upstairs, Downstairs (2010), played by Blake Ritson. [58] He is portrayed as a caring brother, terrified of the mistakes that his family is making; later, he is portrayed as an appeaser of the German regime, but also as a supportive friend of Hallam Holland. [58]

George and his eldest brother the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, are shown in Stephen Poliakoff's BBC television serial Dancing on the Edge (2013), in which they are portrayed as supporters of jazz and encouragers of Louis Lester's Jazz Band. A sexual attraction to Louis on George's part is also insinuated. [59]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

At the time of his death, Prince George's full style was His Royal Highness The Prince George Edward Alexander Edmund, Duke of Kent, Earl of Saint Andrews and Baron Downpatrick, Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Royal Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.

He was Patron of the Society for Nautical Research (1926-1942). [61]

Honours

Appointments

Arms

Around the time of his elder brother Prince Henry's twenty-first birthday, Prince George was granted the use of the Royal Arms, differenced by a label argent of three points, each bearing an anchor azure.

Coat of Arms of George, Duke of Kent.svg
Royal Standard of Prince George, Duke of Kent.svg
Royal Standard of Prince George, Duke of Kent (in Scotland).svg
Prince George's coat of arms
George's banner of arms
George's personal banner of arms in Scotland

Ancestry

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Further reading

Prince George, Duke of Kent
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 20 December 1902 Died: 25 August 1942
Masonic offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England
1939–1942
Succeeded by
The Earl of Harewood
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New title Duke of Kent
1934–1942
Succeeded by
Prince Edward