Prince George, Duke of Kent

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His Royal Highness The Prince George, Duke of Kent (George Edward Alexander Edmund von Wettin, later Windsor) (20 December 1902 - 25 August 1942) was the fourth son of King George V of the United Kingdom and Queen Mary. He was the father of the current Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy, and Prince Michael of Kent.1

Prince George was born at York Cottage, Sandringham House, near King's Lynn, Norfolk, England, to the then Prince and Princess of Wales. At the time of his birth, he was styled "HRH Prince George of Wales". From his father's ascension to the throne on 6 May 1910 until his creation as Duke of Kent on 12 October 1934, he was styled "HRH The Prince George". He became a Knight of the Order of the Garter (KG) at age 21. He received the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) in 1924 and the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (GCMG) in 1934. In 1935, he became a Knight of the Thistle (KT) and two years later he became a member of the Privy Council.

Contents

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 HMS Iron Duke and later the HMS 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. 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. The Duke also was a designer of some note, trying his hand at furniture, jewelry, and the like.

According to claims made in The Queen's Lost Uncle, a television program produced by Flame (http://www.rogerbolton.co.uk/flame.php) and broadcast in November 2003 and March 2005 on Britain's Channel 4, Prince George was also involved in the events surrounding the capture of Rudolf Hess, deputy to Adolf Hitler. The program reported that, according to unspecified "recently released" documents, Hess flew to Scotland to meet Prince George (who had to be rushed from the scene due to Hess's botched arrival) as part of a plot to fool the Nazis into thinking that the prince was plotting with other senior figures to overthrow Winston Churchill.

Marriage

On 29 November 1934, the Duke of Kent married Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, the daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and a great niece of Queen Alexandra, at Westminster Abbey. It was the last marriage between a son of a British Sovereign and a member of a foreign royal house to date.

Personal life

Dismissed by one observer as cultivated, effeminate, and smelling too strongly of perfume, the Duke of Kent had a long string of affairs with men and women before and during his marriage. The better known of his partners were black cabaret singer Florence Mills, banking heiress Poppy Baring, Ethel Margaret Whigham (later Duchess of Argyll), musical star Jessie Matthews and actor Noel Coward, with whom he carried on a 19-year affair. (Love letters from the Duke to Coward were stolen from Coward's house in 1942). 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. He also is said to have been addicted to drugs (notably morphine and cocaine) and reportedly was blackmailed by a male prostitute to whom he wrote intimate letters. Another of his reported homosexual affairs was with his distant cousin Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia; spy and art historian Anthony Blunt was another lover. The Duke also was known to have attempted to court the late Queen Juliana of the Netherlands (mother of the current Queen Beatrix). However, she married HSH 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. She died after jumping out of a window of the Stanhope Hotel in New York City. According to the memoirs of a friend, Loelia 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).

Much of this history 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.

Death

The Duke of Kent was killed in a plane crash on active service in World War II at Eagles Rock near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland, aged 39. His wife had given birth to their third child, Prince Michael of Kent, only six weeks earlier. He was initially buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor: his remains were later moved to the royal burial ground, adjacent to Queen Victoria's mausoleum, at Frogmore, Windsor. He was succeeded as Duke of Kent by his elder son, Edward.

Prince George, British Columbia is named for him.

Titles from birth to death

Here is a list of the titles the Duke of Kent held from birth to death in chronological order:

  • His Royal Highness Prince George of Wales
  • His Royal Highness The Prince George
  • His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent

Footnote

1 The Duke of Kent, whose original surname may have been von Wettin, was born into the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. By Royal Proclamation on 17 June 1917, King George V changed the name of the British Royal House to the House of Windsor and assumed Windsor as the surname for all descendants of Queen Victoria who were British subjects, excluding females who married and their descendants.

See also

British Royal Family

External links

nl:George Edward Alexander Windsor

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