|Prince William of Gloucester (left) presents the Daily Express air race trophy to |
the winner Captain Bill Bright. Image: Zimbio
In his lifetime, he was the British Royal Family’s most dashing bachelor, whose looks easily caught the attention of ladies around him. William Henry Andrew Frederick was born on December 18, 1941 to Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and third son of King George V, and the former Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott, the third daughter the 7th Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. His younger brother, Richard, was born in 1944. The brothers were different both in looks and in temperament. While William was proud, dashing and outgoing, Richard was serious and reserved. But the brothers remained close throughout William’s life.
William’s first taste of royal pageantry was at the wedding of his cousin Princess Elizabeth to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1947, where he served as a page boy together with Prince Michael of Kent. In 1953, he attended her coronation as Queen. William lived with his parents in Australia when Prince Henry was appointed Governor-General from 1945 to 1947. After attending Wellesley House School for his preparatory education, William went to Eton College only to transfer in Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he read history and obtained a BA degree in 1963. After Cambridge he proceeded to Stanford University where he spent a year studying political science, American history, and business.
Prince William decided to pursue a career in foreign affairs, joining the Commonwealth Office in 1965. He was the first member of the Royal Family since Prince George, Duke of Kent to work with the civil service. Prince William as assigned to serve as the third secretary at the British High Commission in Lagos. In 1968, he was transferred to Tokyo where he served as second secretary (commercial) in the British Embassy. William enjoyed the free and easy private life that being a royal never accorded him. The prince was at his happiest when he was in the sky, flying his own aircraft as it soared into the clouds.
The Prince, however, had to cut his career following the rapid decline of his father’s health and his own health concerns, too (he was diagnosed with porphyria, a disease that afflicted royals notably Mary, Queen of Scots, and King George III). Upon his return to England, he spent his time managing the family’s estate, Barnwell Manor, and performing royal duties.
Details of Prince William’s private life remained virtually unknown until 2012 when Daily Mail published an interview with Zsuzsi Starkloff, who claimed that she had a long-standing relationship with William. However, their relationship was heavily opposed by the Royal Family since she was a two-time divorcee, a mother of two small children, a Jewish and a Hungarian. Nevertheless, William continued to see her until his death.
On July 8, 1971, Prince William delivered a touching message at the reception of his Prince Richard’s wedding to Birgitte van Deurs, one that revealed not only his “joy at the happiness found by his brother but also his regret at the role he felt fate had cast for him” (Whiting, 1982).
Three weeks later, on August 28, Prince William was taking part at an air race near Wolverhampton in the west Midlands when his light aircraft crashed, the flames devouring him to death. On June 10, 1974, his father died. Prince Richard, the surviving son and brother inherited his father’s title, as well as the task a prince and a member of the Royal Family should perform.