Royal News: Saturday 21 December 2014

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Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent

photo: Wikipedia

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent was the wife of Prince George, Duke of Kent (the 4th son of King George V and Queen Mary). She was born Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, on December 13, 1906 in Athens. Her parents were Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark (a son of King George I of the Hellenes) and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna (a granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia), and she had two older sisters, Olga (1903) and Elizabeth (1904). Through her father, she was a first cousin of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.

Her christening took place shortly after birth, with the following godparents:

1913 brought the family’s idyllic life to an end. Marina’s grandfather, King George I, was assassinated. After several years of upheaval, the monarchy was overthrown in 1924, and Prince Nicholas and his family settled in Paris.

by Bassano Ltd 12 x 10 inch glass plate negative, 29 November 1934 NPG x95788 © National Portrait Gallery, London

photo: by Bassano Ltd; 12 x 10 inch glass plate negative, 29 November 1934; NPG x95788; 
© National Portrait Gallery, London

In August 1934, she became engaged to Prince George, Duke of Kent. The two were second-cousins, through their mutual descent from King Christian IX of Denmark. They married on November 29, 1934 at Westminster Abbey in London, followed by a Greek Orthodox ceremony in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace. Marina was now officialy styled HRH The Duchess of Kent. This would be the last marriage of a foreign princess into the British Royal Family. They settled into a home at No.3 Belgrave Square, in London, and Coppins, a country home in Buckinghamshire which Prince George inherited from his aunt, Princess Victoria. The couple had three children:

Sadly, just six weeks after the birth of their youngest child, Prince George was killed when his military plane crashed in Scotland on August 25, 1942. At the time, there were no financial provisions made for a widow of a Royal Duke. The Duke’s Civil List payments stopped upon his death, leaving Marina and her children with no income. Fortunately, her brother-in-law, King George VI, and her mother-in-law, Queen Mary, stepped in to help.

Marina threw herself into her royal duties and her support of the war efforts. She trained as a nurse, and joined the civil nurse reserve. She also supported numerous charities and military groups. From 1940 until her death, she served as Chief Commandant of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS). And from 1963 until her death, she served as the first Chancellor of the University of Kent at Canterbury.  She also held several honorary military positions, including:

  • Colonel-in-Chief, The Kent Regiment
  • Colonel-in-Chief, The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment
  • Colonel-in-Chief, The Dorset Regiment
  • Colonel-in-Chief, The Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment
  • Colonel-in-Chief, The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment
  • Colonel-in-Chief, The Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
  • Colonel-in-Chief, The Queen’s Regiment (Allied)
  • Honorary Commandant, The Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service

In 1955, Marina and her children moved into Apartment No.1 at Kensington Palace. At the time, the former apartments of Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, were split into two apartments – No.1 and No.1A. She remained a very active, and highly popular, member of the Royal Family. She is perhaps best known for her 26 years serving as President of the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, a position previously held by her husband. In this role, she was seen each year handing out the trophies to the winners of Wimbledon. After her death, her son, The Duke of Kent, took on the role and continues to serve as President to this day.

Upon her son’s marriage in 1961, Marina’s official style became HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. Having been born a Princess in her own right, the Queen gave her permission to use that style, as opposed to being styled The Dowager Duchess.

In July 1968, Princess Marina spent several days in the hospital, where it was discovered that she was suffering from an inoperable brain tumor. Sadly, her condition diminished very quickly. At 11:40am, on August 27, 1968, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home at Kensington Palace. She was surrounded by her children, and her sister Olga.

Her funeral was held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. The previous day, her husband’s remains were removed from the Royal Vault at St George’s, and buried at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore. She was then laid to rest beside him. Ironically, she died almost 26 years to the day after her husband.

 

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Royal Birthdays & Anniversaries: December 21-December 27

Emperor Akihito of Japan, Photo Credit – www.reuters.com

81st birthday of Emperor Akihito of Japan; born in Tokyo, Japan on December 23, 1933
Unofficial Royalty: Emperor Akihito

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Queen Silvia of Sweden, Photo Credit – www.zimbio.com

71st birthday of Silvia Renate Sommerlath, wife of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden; born in Heidelberg, Germany on December 23, 1943
Unofficial Royalty: Queen Silvia

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Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, Photo Credit – au.eurosport.com

39th birthday of Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, son of King Hussein of Jordan and his third wife Queen Alia; born in Amman, Jordan on December 23, 1975
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein

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78th birthday of Princess Alexandra of Kent; born at 3 Belgrave Square in London, England on December 25, 1936
Full name: Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Alexandra

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Prince Bernhard of Orange-Nassau, Photo Credit – www.thepeerage.com

45th birthday of Prince Bernhard of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven, son of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands; born in Nijmegen, Netherlands on December 25, 1969
Full name: Bernhard Lucas Emmanuel
Wikipedia: Prince Bernhard of Orange-Nassau

December 21: Today in Royal History

Amalia of Oldenburg, wife of King Otto of Greece; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

December 21, 1800 – Birth of Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, first wife of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in Gotha (Germany)
Louise was the mother of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband.
Wikipedia: Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg

December 21, 1818 – Birth of Amalia of Oldenburg, wife of King Otto of Greece, in Oldenburg, Grand Duchy of Oldenburg (Germany)
Unofficial Royalty: Amalia of Oldenburg

December 21, 1878 – Wedding of Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover and Princess Thyra of Denmark at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark
Wikipedia: Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover
Unofficial Royalty: Thyra of Denmark

Prince George, Duke of Kent

photo: Wikipedia

Prince George, Duke of Kent

Prince George, Duke of Kent (born George Edward Alexander Edmund of Wales) was the 5th of 6 children of the future King George V and Queen Mary. He was born on December 20, 1902, at York Cottage on the Sandringham Estate. He had five siblings:

King Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor
King George VI
Princess Mary, Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood
Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester
Prince John

He was christened on January 26, 1903, in the private chapel at Windsor Castle. His godparents were:

King Edward VII – his paternal grandfather
Queen Alexandra – his paternal grandmother
Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia – sister of Queen Alexandra
Prince Valdemar of Denmark – brother of Queen Alexandra
Prince Louis of Battenberg (later Marquess of Milford Haven) – cousin-in-law of his father
Princess Helena (Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein) – sister of his grandfather

Prince George (front, right) with his siblings, 1910. Photo: Wikipedia

His education began privately at home, and then he attended St Peter’s Court Preparatory School in Kent. He then attended the Royal Naval College at Osborne, and later at Dartmouth and served in the Royal Navy until 1929. He then became the first member of the British Royal Family to work as a civil servant, taking up positions in the Foreign Office and then the Home Office.

In August 1934, Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Prince George to his second-cousin, Princess Marina of Greece (both are great-grandchildren of King Christian IX of Denmark). They married at Westminster Abbey on November 29, 1934, followed by a Greek Orthodox service held in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace. This would be the last time a foreign princess married into the British Royal Family. The month prior to the wedding, Prince George was created Duke of Kent, Earl of St Andrews, and Baron Downpatrick. The couple had three children:

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (1935)
Princess Alexandra of Kent (1936)
Prince Michael of Kent (1942)

In 1937, George was given a commission as a Group Captain in the Royal Air Force (RAF). And in 1938, he was appointed to become the next Governor-General of Australia, beginning in November 1939. However, the appointment was postponed due to the outbreak of World War II. The Duke of Kent returned to active military service, working briefly in the Intelligence Division of the Admiralty. In 1940, he transferred to the RAF. By then he’d been elevated to the rank of Air Vice-Marshal, but voluntarily relinquished the rank and reverted to Group Captain so as not to outrank more experienced officers. He worked as a Welfare Officer, part of the Inspector General’s staff. In this role, he traveled extensively, visiting troops and facilities to help boost morale.

It was on one of these trips, that Prince George’s life would come to an end. On August 25, 1942, just six weeks after the birth of his youngest child, George boarded an RAF flying boat in Scotland, headed for Iceland. Sadly, the plane crashed near Dunbeath, Caithness in Scotland, killing all except for one person aboard. The Duke of Kent was just 39 years old. There is much speculation as to the nature of this trip. While officially it was a standard visit to troops in Iceland, there are allegations and suggestions that it was some sort of “secret mission”. The Duke’s body was found with a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist, full of 100 kroner notes. These had no value in Iceland at the time. And the Duchess of Kent met several times with the lone survivor over the years, allegedly trying to find out why her husband had died.

The Duke of Kent’s funeral was held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, and his remains placed in the Royal Vault. Following his wife’s death, almost exactly 26 years later, his remains were moved to the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore, where his beloved Marina was then buried by his side.

 

Learn more about royalty, past and present here and share your thoughts on our forums.

Royal News: Saturday 20 December 2014

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December 20: Today in Royal History

Prince George of the United Kingdom (Duke of Kent) on the right with his brother Prince John; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

December 20, 860 – Death of King Ethelbald of Wessex; buried at Sherborne Abbey in Dorset, England
Wikipedia: Ethelbald of Wessex

December 20, 1537 – Birth of King John III of Sweden at Stegeborg Castle in Söderköping, Sweden
Wikipedia: John III of Sweden

December 20, 1904 – Death of Alexandrine of Baden, wife of Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, at Schloss Callenberg in Coburg (Germany)
Wikipedia: Alexandrine of Baden

December 20, 1902 – Birth of Prince George, Duke of Kent, son of King George V of the United Kingdom, at York Cottage, Sandringham in Norfolk, England
Full name: George Edward Alexander Edmund
Wikipedia: Prince George, Duke of Kent

December 20, 1963 – Birth of Infanta Elena of Spain, daughter of King Juan Carlos of Spain, in Madrid, Spain
Full name: Elena María Isabel Dominica de los Silos de Borbón y de Grecia
Unofficial Royalty: Infanta Elena of Spain

December 20, 1981 – Birth of Princess Akiko of Japan, in Tokyo, Japan
Wikipedia: Princess Akiko of Japan

Another baby for Princess Madeleine of Sweden

photo: Brigitte Grenfeldt, Swedish Royal Court

The Swedish Royal Court has issued the following statement:

Princess Madeleine and Mr. Christopher O’Neill are delighted to announce that The Princess is expecting their second child.

The birth is expected to take place in the summer of 2015.

“We are very happy and look forward to welcoming a new member to our family,” says Princess Madeleine and Mr. Christopher O’Neill.”

This will be the couple’s second child.  Their daughter, Princess Leonore, Duchess of Gotland, was born in New York City on February 20, 2014.

Royal News: Friday 19 December 2014

Doing your holiday shopping on Amazon.com?  Please remember to use our Amazon link – found at the top of the right-hand column on every page of our site.  It costs you nothing, and every purchase made through that link helps to support Unofficial Royalty, so that we can continue to bring you the royal news and features every day.  Thank you!

Japan
Japan Times: Palau President Remengesau seeks visit by Emperor, Empress in 2015

Multiple Monarchies
Swedish Royal Court: The King and Queen attend Queen Fabiola’s funeral

Norway
Hello!: Norwegian royals get in the festive spirit with Christmas photoshoot
Norway Today: Crown Prince lighted candles Peshawar victims
Norway Today: Got the dinner served by Crown Prince and Princess

Romania
Romania Insider: Monarchy vs republic: what do Romanians prefer?

Spain
Getty: Spanish Royals Christmas Cards 2014
Hello!: Spanish Royals release Christmas card featuring coronation images

Sweden
Swedish Royal Court: The King and Queen hold a meeting with representatives from the Royal Palace Music Festival
Swedish Royal Court: The King holds farewell audiences with ambassadors from Ireland, Algeria and Portugal
Swedish Royal Court: The King attends a seminar on the forest industry materials research of the future
Swedish Royal Court: The Queen receives an award at a German charity gala

Thailand
Hello!: Thailand’s Prince Vajiralongkorn and Princess Srirasmi to divorce

United Kingdom
BBC: George III ‘eccentric’ drawing uncovered at British Library
BBC: Why the Queen won’t abdicate (probably)
Daily Mail: Ready for Christmas, Ma’am? The Queen arrives at Sandringham by train (but where’s the Duke of Edinburgh?)
Daily Mail: The mad nest of George III: King revealed as a HOARDER who clung on to everything from court papers to bakery flyers and even his own scribbled plans for an impossible palace
Daily Mail: Portrait of a very modern Prince: Harry cuddles up to a group of orphans (and tries his hand at photography) during Lesotho visit
Evening Standard: Santa Harry snapped on both sides of the camera on Christmas trip to visit Lesotho orphans
Getty: The Queen arrives at King’s Lynn Station For Her Christmas Break At Sandringham
Getty: The Duchess of Cornwall Visits The London International Horse Show
Hello!: Cheerful Queen is in the Christmas spirit as she arrives in Norfolk for holidays
Hello!: Prince Harry shares personal photos from trip to Lesotho
Telegraph: Oblivious passenger nearly bumps into the Queen as she takes train to Sandringham

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Tales from the Royal Bedroom on PBS December 21

Unofficial Royalty has received a press release from the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the United States regarding a one hour show shown on the BBC, TALES FROM THE ROYAL BEDCHAMBER, which premieres Sunday, December 21, 2014, 8:00-9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Check your local PBS listings and set your DVRs.

From the press release:

In TALES FROM THE ROYAL BEDCHAMBER, host Dr. Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, snuggles up with Britain’s monarchs to uncover the fascinating secrets of the royal bedchamber (watch a clip here).  From Hampton Court to Hever Castle to the great English country manors, Worsley shows the opulence of Royal State bedrooms and explains how these private spaces were once very public hubs of English politics and policy. It was in these rooms that royal marriage ceremonies were held, royal births were observed by crowds eager to verify the baby’s sex. Even the process of creating royal babies took place in a semi-public context, Worsley says, because everyone had a stake in its outcome.

The eventual creation of private chambers evolved as a reaction to the overwhelmingly public nature of royal bedrooms, and affairs of state eventually were relegated to offices and the Houses of Parliament. But TALES FROM THE ROYAL BEDCHAMBER gives viewers access to the regal pomp and detailed work of these inner chambers – detailing the lavish designs of royal state beds and “pulling back the covers” on the political intrigue that occurred behind closed doors.