Prince George, Duke of Kent

Prince George, Duke of Kent

Infobox British Royalty|royal
name =Prince George
title =Duke of Kent

imgw =229
succession = Duke of Kent
successor =Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
spouse =Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark
issue =Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
Princess Alexandra, The Hon. Lady Ogilvy
Prince Michael of Kent
full name =George Edward Alexander Edmund
titles ="HRH" The Duke of Kent
"HRH" The Prince George
"HRH" Prince George of Wales
royal house =House of Windsor
House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
father =George V
mother =Mary of Teck
date of birth =birth date|1902|12|20|df=y
place of birth =York Cottage, Sandringham
date of christening =26 January 1903
place of christening =St George's Chapel, Windsor
date of death =death date and age|1942|8|25|1902|12|20|df=y
place of death =Morven, Scotland
place of burial =St George's Chapel, Windsor and later Frogmore Royal Mausoleum
occupation =Military|

The Prince George, Duke of Kent (George Edward Alexander Edmund; 20 December 1902 - 25 August 1942) was a member of the British Royal Family, the fourth son of George V and Mary of Teck. He held the title of Duke of Kent from 1934 until his death in 1942.


Prince George was born on 20 December 1902 at York Cottage on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England. His father was The Prince George, Prince of Wales, the eldest surviving son of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. His mother was the Princess of Wales, the eldest daughter of The Duke and Duchess of Teck. At the time of his birth, he was fifth in the line of succession. As a grandchild of the British monarch in a male line, he was styled "His Royal Highness" Prince George of Wales.

He was baptised in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on 26 January 1903 by Francis Paget, Bishop of Oxford (with "ordinary" water, as opposed to water from the Jordan River, which is almost always used for royal christenings). His godparents were his grandparents King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, his grand-uncle Prince Valdemar of Denmark, Prince Louis of Battenberg, and his grand-aunts The Dowager Empress of Russia and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein.

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 Preparatory School at Broadstairs, in Kent. At age thirteen, like his brothers, Prince Edward (later Edward VIII) and Prince Albert (later George VI), before him, he went to naval college, first at Osborne and, later, at Dartmouth. He remained in the Royal Navy until 1929, serving on the Iron Duke and later the Nelson. After leaving the navy, he briefly held posts at the Foreign Office and later the Home Office, becoming the first member of the British Royal Family to work as a civil servant.

In 1939, he was elected Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, an office he held until his death. [Picknett, Lynn, Prince, Clive, Prior, Stephen & Brydon, Robert (2002). "War of the Windsors: A Century of Unconstitutional Monarchy", p. 153. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-631-3.]

At the start of World War II, he returned to active military service at the rank of Rear Admiral, briefly serving on the Intelligence Division of the Admiralty. In April 1940, he transferred to the Royal Air Force. He temporarily relinquished his rank as Air Vice-Marshal (the equivalent of Rear Admiral) to assume the post of Staff Officer in the RAF Training Command at the rank of Air Commodore.


On 12 October 1934, [ Yvonne's Royalty: Peerage] ] in anticipation of his forthcoming marriage to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, his second cousin, he was created Duke of Kent, Earl of St Andrews and Baron Downpatrick. The couple married on 29 November 1934 at Westminster Abbey. The bride was a daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and a great-niece of Queen Alexandra. [Picknett, Prince, Prior & Brydon, p. 82.] It was the last marriage between a son of a British Sovereign and a member of a foreign Royal House to date. Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth II) of York, daughter of King George VI, married Prince Phillip of Greece in November of 1947. This was the last marriage between Royal Houses.

Princess Marina became known as HRH The Duchess of Kent following the marriage. She and her husband had three children:
* Prince Edward of Kent, born 9 October 1935
* Princess Alexandra of Kent, born 25 December 1936
* Prince Michael of Kent, born 4 July 1942

Personal life

Both before and after his marriage, Kent had a long string of affairs with both men and women, from socialites to Hollywood celebrities. The better known of his partners included the African-American cabaret singer Florence Mills, banking heiress Poppy Baring, socialite Margaret Whigham (later Duchess of Argyll), musical star Jessie Matthews and actor Noel Coward, with whom he carried on a 19-year affair. [Picknett, Prince, Prior & Brydon, p. 56.] Intimate letters from the Duke to Coward are believed to have been stolen from Coward's house in 1942. [Coward, Noel, "The Letters of Noel Coward," Alfred A. Knopf, 2007] There is some suggestion that the duke had an affair with Indira Raje, the Maharani of Cooch Behar (1892–1968), in the late 1920s, according to British historian Lucy Moore. [Moore, Lucy, "Maharanis," Viking, 2004.]

The Duke of Kent is also said to have been addicted to drugs (notably morphine and cocaine) — a weakness which his brother the Prince of Wales was deputed to cure him of during the latter part of the 1920s — and reportedly was blackmailed by a male prostitute to whom he wrote intimate letters. Another of his reported bisexual liaisons was with his distant cousin Louis Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia; homosexual spy and art historian Anthony Blunt was reputedly another intimate. [Picknett, Prince, Prior & Brydon, p. 57.] The Duke was known to have attempted to court Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. She spurned the overture and married Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Bisterfeld instead.

In addition to his legitimate children, the Duke is said to have had a son by Kiki Preston (née Alice Gwynne) (1898–1946), an American socialite whom he reportedly shared in a ménage à trois with Jorge Ferrara, the bisexual son of the Argentine ambassador to the Court of St. James's. Known as "the girl with the silver syringe", drug addict Preston, a cousin of railroad heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, was married first to Horace R.B. Allen and then, in 1925, to banker Jerome Preston. [Picknett, Prince, Prior & Brydon, p. 58.] She died after jumping out of a window of the Stanhope Hotel in New York City. According to the memoirs of a friend, Loelia, Duchess of Westminster, Prince George's brother (the Duke of Windsor) believed that the son was Michael Canfield (1926–1969), the adopted son of American publisher Cass Canfield and the first husband of Lee Radziwill, sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. [Westminster, Loelia, Duchess of, "Grace and Favour", Weidenfeld Nicholson, 1961]

The Duke's early life is dramatised in Stephen Poliakoff's 2003 film "The Lost Prince" - a biopic of the life of his younger brother John, who suffered from epilepsy, was isolated from most of the family and kept away from public gaze, and who died at the age of 13. 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 to detest his time at Naval College, and to have a difficult relationship with his austere father.

Much of his later life was outlined in the documentary film "The Queen's Lost Uncle" mentioned above. The Duke's bisexuality and drug addictions were explored in "African Nights", a 2004 play written by American playwright Jeffrey Corrick.

Honorary appointment

In 1932 he was appointed as Royal Bencher of The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, a position previously occupied by his father, the King.


Prince George was killed in northern Scotland on August 25, 1942 as a passenger in the crash of a Short Sunderland flying boat airplane. The plane was en route from Evanton, Rosshire to Iceland, and then on to Newfoundland.

Many questions remain about this mission and Prince George's role in it. [ [ Prince George, Duke of Kent ] ] An unproven claim has been made that British Intelligence assassinated Prince George. One possible reason is given by author Charles Higham, in the second, revised edition of his book "The Dutchess of Windsor: The Secret Life", as serious concern over the Duke of Kent's lack of discretion and his political dealings with Nazi leadership, with negotiations towards a separate peace, to allow Germany to concentrate on its war with the Soviet Union in eastern Europe. Higham writes that the Special Operations Executive (SOE), worried that the Duke would talk about these matters once he left the British Isles, tampered with the plane before its takeoff, ensuring its crash soon afterwards, with the deaths of all but one of the passengers. ["The Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life", second, revised edition, by Charles Higham, 2005.]

There is another claim that the plane struck Wolf Rock on Ben Morven while attempting to take off from Loch More after picking up Rudolf Hess who had been smuggled north after parachuting on Eaglesham Moor, near East Kilbride on a mission to broker a peace deal between Germany and Britain. The Sunderland was certainly heading Southwest when it hit the ground and broke up, although it has been claimed that The Duke of Kent was at the controls and he was "buzzing" his cousin's lodge at Langwell Estate, Berridale. Purportedly, women's clothing and footwear was found at the crash site by estate workers first on the scene. A possible reason for the Sunderland crashing was it was unable to gain enough altitude/airspeed after take off to clear the hillside, due to its short take-off on Loch More, extra passenger and heavy fuel load, enough to take it to Ayrshire without stopping. One member of crew survived the crash with only minor injuries, but never talked about the event and took what he knew to the grave, further fuelling conspiracy theorists. [ [ Royal Nazis and the Scottish connection ] at]


The Duchess of Kent had given birth to their third child, Prince Michael of Kent, only six weeks earlier. The Duke's remains lay initially in St. George's Chapel, Windsor. Later they were buried in the Royal burial ground, directly behind Queen Victoria's mausoleum, at Frogmore, Windsor. He was succeeded as Duke of Kent by his eldest son, Edward.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

*20 December 19026 May 1910: "His Royal Highness" Prince George of Wales
*6 May 1910–12 October 1934: "His Royal Highness" The Prince George
*12 October 1934–25 August 1942: "His Royal Highness" The Duke of Kent
**"in Scotland:" May 1935: "His Grace" The Lord High Commissioner


British honours
*KG: Knight of the Garter
*KT: Knight of the Thistle
*GCMG: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
*GCVO: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
*Royal Victorian Chain


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. [ [ Heraldica – British Royal Cadency] ]


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1= 1. Prince George, Duke of Kent
2= 2. George V of the United Kingdom
3= 3. Mary of Teck
4= 4. Edward VII of the United Kingdom
5= 5. Alexandra of Denmark
6= 6. Francis, Duke of Teck
7= 7. Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge
8= 8. Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
9= 9. Victoria of the United Kingdom
10= 10. Christian IX of Denmark
11= 11. Louise of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel)
12= 12. Duke Alexander of Württemberg
13= 13. Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde
14= 14. Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge
15= 15. Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge
16= 16. Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
17= 17. Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
18= 18. Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
19= 19. Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
20= 20. Frederick William, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
21= 21. Louise Caroline of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel)
22= 22. Prince William of Hesse
23= 23. Princess Louise Charlotte of Denmark
24= 24. Duke Louis of Württemberg
25= 25. Princess Henriette of Nassau-Weilburg
26= 26. Count Rhédy von Kis-Rhéde
27= 27. Baroness Ágnes Inczédy von Nagy-Várad
28= 28. George III of the United Kingdom
29= 29. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
30= 30. Prince Frederick of Hesse
31= 31. Princess Caroline Polyxene of Nassau-Usingen

ee also

British Royal Family


Further reading

Miller, Peter. "The Other Prince". "The Sunday Times" (January 26, 2003).

Warwick, Christopher. "George and Marina, Duke and Duchess of Kent". London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988. ISBN 0297794531.

External links

* [ Portraits of Prince George from the National Portrait Gallery]
* [ Photographs taken by Cecil Beaton]

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