Prince George, Duke of Kent (George Edward Alexander Edmund 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 Honorable Lady Ogilvy, and Prince Michael of Kent. In addition to his legitimate children, he is said to have had an illegitimate son adopted by a well-known American publisher.1
His Royal Highness The Prince George Edward Alexander Edmund, KG, KT, GCVO, GCMG, PC, 1st Duke of Kent, Earl of St. Andrews, and Baron Downpatrick 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 in 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.
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.
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.
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. (Love letters from the Duke to Coward were stolen from Coward's house in 1942). He also is said to have been addicted to drugs and reportedly was blackmailed by a male prostitute to whom he wrote intimate letters.
The Duke of Kent was killed in a plane crash on active service in World War II at Eagles Rock near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland. 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, England: his remains were later moved to the royal mausoleum at Frogmore, Windsor, England. He was succeeded as Duke of Kent by his elder son, Edward.
Prince George, British Columbia is named for him.
1 The Duke of Kent, whose original surname may have been 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