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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.

Birth

Prince George was born on 20 December 1902 at York Cottage on the Sandringham Estatemarker in Norfolk, Englandmarker. 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 Castlemarker on 26 January 1903 by Francis Paget, Bishop of Oxford (with "ordinary" water, as opposed to water from the Jordanmarker, usual for royal christenings). His godparents were his grandparents King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, his granduncle Prince Valdemar of Denmark, Prince Louis of Battenberg, and his grandaunts 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 Dartmouthmarker. 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.

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 at RAF Training Command in the rank of Air Commodore.


Marriage

On 12 October 1934, 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 Abbeymarker. The bride was a daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and a great-niece of Queen Alexandra. 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 Philip of Greece in November 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:

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 marker, and musical star Jessie Matthews. Claims that he had a 19-year affair with Noël Coward were denied by Coward's long-term partner, Graham Payn. Intimate letters from the Duke to Coward are believed to have been stolen from Coward's house in 1942. There is some suggestion that the duke had an affair with Indira Raje, the Maharani of Cooch Beharmarker (1892–1968), in the late 1920s, according to British historian Lucy Moore. He was also extremely close to Henry "Chips" Channon.

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 sexual liaisons was with his distant cousin Louis Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia; traitor and art historian Anthony Blunt was reputedly another intimate. 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. She died after jumping out of a window of the Stanhope Hotel in New York Citymarker. 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.

Honorary appointment

In 1932 he was appointed as Royal Bencher of The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Innmarker, a position previously occupied by his father, the King. In 1937 he was granted a commission in the Royal Air Force as a group captain.

Death

Prince George was killed on 25 August 1942 when the Short Sunderland flying boat in which he was a passenger crashed into a hillside near Dunbeathmarker, Caithnessmarker in bad weather. The plane was en route from Evantonmarker, Rosshire to Icelandmarker, and then on to the Dominion of Newfoundland.

Many questions remain about this mission and Prince George's role in it. 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 Duchess 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 Unionmarker 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.

Authors Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince and Stephen Prior in their books Double Standards: The Rudolf Hess Cover-up and War of the Windsors claim that the Duke of Kent's plane stopped to pick up Rudolf Hess, and that it was part of a peace plan that would have ousted Churchill from power, thus leaving the unstated implication that if the Duke was assassinated by British Intelligence it must have been 'agreed' at the level of Winston Churchill. "The German Ambassador to Portugal, Baron von Hoyningen-Huene, reported to von Ribbentrop that according to the British community in Lisbon, the flying boat was sabotaged in order to kill Kent because he was in favour of peace with Germany".

Funeral

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, Windsormarker. Later they were buried in the Royal burial ground, directly behind Queen Victoria's mausoleum, at Frogmoremarker, Windsor. He was succeeded as Duke of Kent by his eldest son, Edward.

In Popular Culture

The Duke's early life is dramatised in Stephen Poliakoff's 2003 television serial The Lost Prince, a biography 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.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 20 December 1902 – 6 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




Honours

British honours

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.

Ancestry




See also

British Royal Family

References

Further reading

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

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

External links




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