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:
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
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:
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.