Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn

Full name: Edward Augustus

Born: 2 November 1767, Buckingham House, London

Son of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Married: Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, m. 1818

Died: 23 January 1820, Sidmouth, Enlgand

Burial: 12 February 1820, St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

Edward is not generally remembered in royal history. As the fifth child, and fourth son of a King, his prospects to be in contention for the throne were minimal. That was until 1817, when Edward’s niece, Princess Charlotte tragically died in childbirth. She was the only legitimate heir, and her parents were estranged which meant there was an urgent need for one of George III’s many children to produce and heir. And that is what Edward did. Her name was Victoria.

As the fourth son, Edward’s early life plans were to follow in the footsteps of his previous royal princes and join the military. He began his training in Hanover and in 1786 was appointed Colonel in the British Army. After being posted to Gibraltar and struggling with the heat, Edward requested a transfer to Canada, and became the first member of the royal family to tour north America and the only one to set up permanent residence there in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After experiencing a terrible fall from his horse in 1798, Edward was sent back to England where he was bestowed the titles of Duke of Kent and Strathearn.

In 1802 Edward was appointed Governor of Gibraltar by the war office and was forced to move back to Gibraltar which had become a main base for the military troops. He was instructed to restore order as many were drunken and behaving badly, however he did not stay long enough to make any difference and retired from the military at the age of 35. He was made Ranger of Hampton Court Park which gave him a comfortable home. His life seemed simple, however the death of his niece drastically changed Edward’s life.

The race was on for one of George III’s children to produce an heir. Despite having fifteen children (twelve that lived to adulthood) there was only one legitimate heir of Charlotte. Her father, the Prince of Wales was estranged from his wife Caroline as was the Duke of York and his wife. The Duke of Clarence, the third son had never married but had many illegitimate children with his mistress whom he lived with. Edward hastily made plans to marry a German Princess, Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. They had two weddings, one in Germany and then another at Kew Palace. The marriage produced a daughter, Alexandrina Victoria, born in May 1819. Edward doted on his little girl.

Sadly, Edward died only 8 months after Victoria was born. He was 52 years old and had caught pneumonia. He is buried in St George’s chapel in Windsor Castle.

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