The Duke of Kent turns 78: a tribute to the Royal Family's hard working guy

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.
Image: Wikimedia

There’s no question that the Duke of Kent’s dedication to serving the crown and the country is beyond reproach. Thrusted upon the obligation of doing his best for the sake of the institution on which he was born in, Prince Edward at a young age filled a huge role vacated by the untimely death of his father in 1942. Since then, through rough times and even now that he is in his late 70s, the Duke of Kent continues to spend much of his time performing ceremonial functions, attending charitable causes and supporting various organizations in support of his cousin Queen Elizabeth II and the British Monarchy.

Edward George Nicholas Paul Patrick was born on October 9, 1935, at No. 3 Belgrave Square, London. He is the eldest child of Prince George, Duke of Kent, fourth son of George V and the former Princess Mary of Teck, and of Princess Marina of Greece, youngest daughter and child of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna of Russia. He was baptized November 20 at the Private Chapel of Buckingham Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang.

Prince Edward attended Ludgrove in Berkshire for his preparatory education. He then proceeded to Eton College and later in Le Rosey in Switzerland. After school, he attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, where he won the Sir James Moncrieff Grierson prize for foreign languages.

The death of Edward’s father in 1942 after a plane crash unexpectedly made him at the age of 6 Duke of Kent, Earl of St Andrews and Baron Downpatrick. However, he did not take his seat in the House of Lords until 1959. As a royal duke early in life, Edward was not spared from royal duties. He was 16 when he joined the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Windsor in walking behind King George VI’s coffin at the state funeral in 1952. He also paid homage to his cousin Queen Elizabeth II during the latter’s coronation (following the Dukes of Edinburgh and Gloucester).
 
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent--the baby.
Image:  Woman and Home


The Duke of Kent marries his bride, Miss Katharine Worsley in 1961.
Image: Order of Splendor (Blogspot)

The Duke of Kent represents the Queen during Ghana's independence
celebration, 1962. Image: Royal Historian
 
The Duke and Duchess of Kent with their three children.
Image: Camera Press/MailOnline

After graduating from Sandhurst in 1955, the duke joined the Royal Scots Grey as Second Lieutenant. That was the start of a military career that spanned over 20 years, one which took him to various places around the world.

In 1961, he was promoted Captain; Major in 1967; and Lieutenant Colonel in 1973. In 1970 the Duke commanded a squadron of his regiment serving in the British Sovereign Base Area in Cyprus, part of the UN force enforcing peace between the Greek and Turkish halves of the island.

The duke also spent time commanding a unit in Northern Ireland shortly after troubles in the 1970s broke out, but was recalled early on grounds of security. He now maintains his link with the services mainly through honory rank, which includes that of Colonel of the Scots Guards. He is personal aide-de-camp to her cousin Queen Elizabeth II who promoted him supernumerary Major General on her official birthday in 1983 and Field Marshal in 1993.

On June 29, 1961, the duke married Miss Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley (born February 22, 1933 at Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire), the only daughter of Sir William Arthington Worsley, 4th Baronet, and Joyce Morgan Brunner, daughter of Sir John Brunner, 2nd Baronet.

The Duke of Kent first met his future bride at a county ball while being stationed at Catterick in North Yorkshire in 1957.  Their friendship blossomed but Princess Marina, anxious of her son’s playboy image and not sure at all that he was ready for the responsibilities of marriage, urged him to wait awhile before proposing. For Katharine's part, she was at first hesitant to marry the duke because the was not sure if she was ready to embrace the fast-pace and busy life of royalty. The duke finally took matters into his own hands and thought over of the situation deeply. While spending Christmas with the Royal Family at Sandringham, he sought out his cousin and asked permission to leave the party on Boxing Day to see Katharine who was with her family at Hovingham Hall near Malton in East Yorkshire. The prince eventually sought the hands of her princess.

The Daily Telegraph writes that the wedding “within the mellowed walls of York Minster brought back pageantry and splendor to an ancient city” which did not witness a royal wedding for over 600 years. Theirs was dubbed as the wedding of the year attended by over 2,000 guests, including three queens: Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain,  and a number of celebrities and famous society figures, including Noel Coward and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. It was watched by “probably a million television viewers" around the country, notes Telegraph.

Three children were born afterwards: George, who took the courtesy title Earl of St Andrews (born 26 June 1962); Lady Helen (born 28 April 1964); and Lord Nicholas (born 25 July 1970). However, a stillborn child in 1977, ushered in a series of ill-health that proved nearly too much for the duchess to bear. The successive removal of her gallbladder and an ovarian cyst and treatment for slipped disc and for obstruction in the gallbladder duct involved several spells in the hospital. Two months after the death of her mother in 1979, the duchess fell under severe depression, about which she has spoken publicly.

For over 50 years, the Duke of Kent has been performing royal duties and on behalf of the Queen. He has represented Her Majesty in the independence celebrations in the former British colonies of Sierra Leone, Uganda, Guyana, and Gambia. Most recently he has attended the 50th Independence Anniversary Celebration of Ghana. He has also acted as Counselor of State during periods of the  Queen's absence abroad.

In his civilian capacity, he served as President of the National Lifeboat Association , a position which took him and the duchess throughout the country to name and launch lifeboats and to encourage appeals; and British exports, in support of which he made frequent trips abroad. In private life, the duke is an enthusiastic photographer –he one issued a series of his pictures featuring his daughter Lady Helen Windsor as official photographs to mark her 14th birthday. He is also well-practiced in skiing, a sport that the duchess and their children also participate in. In 1968, the duke succeeded Princess Marina as President of the All-England Lawn Tennis Association.  Together with the duchess, the duke attended many championships during many days of Wimbledon fortnights each year, presenting prized at the end of every competition.

While the duke’s hard work and steadfast work ethic made him one of the most respected members of the Royal Family, sadly, it has taken a toll on his health. Last March, the duke suffered a mild stroke and had to temporarily beg off from his active rounds of official engagements. The duke eventually recovered and has once again resumed the many activities that keep his calendars filled.

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