George Duke of Kent
- Category : Notable-Famous-Royal-family
- Type : PSE
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Education 2
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 and fifth child of George V and Mary of Teck, and younger brother of Edward VIII and George VI. 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 Prince George, Prince of Wales (later George V), the eldest surviving son of King 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 behind his father and three older brothers. 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.
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, the Prince of Wales (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 March 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 October 1938 George was appointed Governor General of Australia in succession to Lord Gowrie with effect from November 1939. On 11 September 1939 it was announced that, owing to the outbreak of World War II, the appointment was postponed.
In 1939 George 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, George returned to active military service in 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 Group Captain.
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. 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. It was the last marriage to date between a son of a British Sovereign and a member of a foreign Royal House. Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth II), daughter of King George VI, married Marina's cousin and fellow Greek dynast, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in November 1947, making that the last marriage between the British and other Royal families.
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.
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), Barbara Cartland (who believed him to be the father of her daughter Raine McCorquodale)and musical star Jessie Matthews. There were "strong rumors" that he had an affair with Noël Coward,a relationship which Coward's long-term boyfriend, Graham Payn, denied. 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"
The Duke of Kent is 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; art historian and Soviet spy, Anthony Blunt, was reputedly another intimate. The duke courted Princess Juliana of the Netherlands without success.
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, Duchess of Westminster, Prince George's brother (the Duke of Windsor) believed that the son was Michael Temple Canfield (1926–1969), the adopted son of American publisher Cass Canfield – and the first husband of Lee Radziwill, sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
The Duke of Kent before he crossed the Atlantic by air.
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. In 1937, he was granted a commission in the Royal Air Force as a group captain. He was also made the Honorary Air Commodore of No. 500 (County of Kent) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force. Prince George relinquished the rank of air vice-marshal on taking up active RAF duties as a welfare officer in 1940, reverting to the rank of group captain.
Prince George died at the age of 39 along with 14 others on board R.A.F. Short Sunderland flying boat W4026, which crashed into a hillside near Dunbeath, Caithness, in Scotland while en route from Invergordon, Ross and Cromarty, to Iceland on 25 August 1942.
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. He was buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, directly behind Queen Victoria's mausoleum, Windsor. He was succeeded as Duke of Kent by his elder 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 the Duke's younger brother John, who suffered from epilepsy, was isolated from most of the family and also 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. American playwright Jeffrey Corrick's play African Nights (2004) explored his bisexuality and drug addictions.
He is a recurring character in the 2010 revival of Upstairs, Downstairs, played by Blake Ritson.
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
He and his elder brother, Prince of Wales later Edward VIII, are shown in Stephen Poliakoff's 2013 BBC television serial Dancing on the Edge where 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.