Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
|Duke of Kent and Strathearn|
|by Sir William Beechey, 1818 (originally the property of Thérèse-Bernardine Montgenet)|
|Spouse||Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld|
|Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom|
|House||House of Hanover|
|Father||George III, King of the United Kingdom|
|Mother||Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz|
2 November 1767|
Buckingham House, London, England
|Died||23 January 1820
Woolbrook Cottage, Sidmouth, England
|Burial||12 February 18201
St. George's Chapel, Windsor, England
Prince Edward was created Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Earl of Dublin on 23 April 17992 and, a few weeks later, appointed a General and commander-in-chief of British forces in North America,3 On 23 March 1802 he was appointed Governor of Gibraltar and nominally retained that post until his death. The Duke of Kent was appointed Field-Marshal of the Forces on 3 September 1805.4
He was the first member of the royal family to live in North America for more than a short visit and the first prince to enter the United States after independence, in 1794.
As a son of the British monarch, he was styled His Royal Highness The Prince Edward from birth, and was fourth in the line of succession to the throne. He was named after his paternal uncle, the Duke of York and Albany, who had died several weeks earlier and was buried at Westminster Abbey the day before his birth.
Prince Edward was baptised on 30 November 1767; his godparents were the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg (his paternal uncle by marriage, for whom the Earl of Hertford, Lord Chamberlain, stood proxy), Duke Charles of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (his maternal uncle, for whom the Earl of Huntingdon, Groom of the Stole, stood proxy), the Hereditary Princess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (his paternal aunt, who was represented by a proxy) and the Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel (his twice-paternal grandaunt, for whom the Duchess of Argyll, Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen, stood proxy).
The Prince began his military training in Germany in 1785. King George III intended to send him to the University of Göttingen, but decided against it upon the advice of the Duke of York. Instead, Prince Edward went to Lüneburg and later Hanover, accompanied by his tutor, Baron Wangenheim. During 1788 to 1789 he completed his education in Geneva.5
In 1789 he was appointed colonel of the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers). In 1790 he returned home without leave and, in disgrace, was sent off to Gibraltar as an ordinary officer and he imported from Marseilles Madame de Saint-Laurent.5
He was ordered to Canada in 1791. For much of his Canadian career he lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was instrumental in shaping that port's military defences for protecting the important Royal Navy base, as well as influencing the city's and colony's socio-political and economic institutions. The prince received promotion to the rank of major-general in October 1793 and the next year served successfully in the West Indies campaign being mentioned in dispatches and receiving the thanks of parliament. His father then refused his request to return home, and he was promoted to lieutenant-general in January 1796.5
But not until after suffering a fall from his horse in late 1798 was he allowed to return to England.5 On 24 April 1799,2 he was created Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Earl of Dublin, received the thanks of parliament and an income of £12,000 and was later, in May, promoted to the rank of general and appointed Commander-in-Chief of British forces in North America.5 He took leave of his parents 22 July 17996 and sailed to Halifax. Just over twelve months later he left Halifax7 and arrived in England on 31 August 1800 where it was confidently expected his next appointment would be Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.note 1
Appointed Governor of Gibraltar by the War Office, gazetted 23 March 1802,8 the Duke took up his post on 24 May 1802 with express orders from the government to restore discipline among the drunken troops but his harsh discipline brought disaster precipitating a mutiny by soldiers in his own and the 25th Regiment on Christmas Eve 1802. The Duke of York, then Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, recalled him in May 1803 after receiving reports of the mutiny but despite this direct order he refused to return to England until his successor arrived. He was refused permission to return to Gibraltar for an inquiry and although he was allowed to continue to hold the governorship of Gibraltar until his death he was forbidden to return.5
As a consolation for the end of his active military career at age 35, he was promoted to the rank of field marshal4 and appointed Ranger of Hampton Court Park on 5 September 18059 which provided him with a residence now known as The Pavilion. His sailor brother William with children to provide for had been made Ranger of Bushy Park in 1797. He continued to serve as honorary colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot (the Royal Scots) until his death.5
In spite of proving a disaster as a soldier, and though it was behaviour to some extent he shared with his siblings, it has been suggested his excesses as a military disciplinarian were not part of his natural character but were learned from his tutor Baron Wangenheim. Certainly Wangenheim, by keeping his allowance very small, accustomed Edward to borrowing at an early age. The Duke applied the same military discipline to his own duties that he demanded of others--probably separating appropriate military behaviour from appropriate civilian behaviour. Though it seems to go against his unpopularity with the army's rank and file, his friendliness toward others and popularity with servants has been emphasized. He also introduced the first regimental school. The Duke of Wellington considered him a first-class speaker. He took a continuing interest in the social experiments of Robert Owen, voted for Catholic emancipation and supported literary, Bible and abolitionist societies.5
His daughter, Victoria, after hearing Lord Melbourne's opinions, was able to add to her private journal of 1 August 1838 "from all what I heard, he was the best of all".5
Following the death in November 1817 of the only legitimate grandchild of George III, Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales the succession began to look uncertain. The Prince Regent and his younger brother, the Duke of York, though married, were estranged from their wives and had no surviving legitimate children. King George's surviving daughters were all past likely childbearing age. The unmarried sons of King George III, the Duke of Clarence (later King William IV), the Duke of Kent, and the Duke of Cambridge, all rushed to contract lawful marriages and provide an heir to the throne. (The fifth son of King George III, the Duke of Cumberland, was already married but had no living children at that time, whilst the marriage of the sixth son, the Duke of Sussex, was void because he had married in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772.)
For his part the Duke of Kent, aged 50, already considering marriage and encouraged into this particular match with her sister-in-law by his now-deceased niece Princess Charlotte, became engaged to Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld5 (17 August 1786 – 16 March 1861) and the couple married on 29 May 1818 at Schloss Ehrenburg, Coburg, (Lutheran rite) and again on 11 July 1818 at Kew Palace, Kew, Surrey.5
They had one child, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent (24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901), who became Queen Victoria on 20 June 1837. The Duke took great pride in his daughter telling his friends to look at her well for she would be Queen of England5 and bringing the infant to a military reviewwhen?, to the outrage of the Prince Regent, who demanded to know what place the child had there.
A widow with two children, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld was the daughter of Duke Franz Friedrich of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and sister of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld husband of the recently-deceased heir to the throne. The new Duchess of Kent's first husband was Emich Carl, 2nd Prince of Leiningen, with whom she had two children: a son Carl and a daughter Feodora.
The Duke of Kent purchased a house of his own from Mrs Fitzherbert in 1801. Castle Hill Lodge on Castlebar Hill Ealing10 was then placed in the hands of architect James Wyatt and more than £100,000 spent. Near neighbours from 1815 to 1817 at Little Boston House was US Envoy and future US President John Quincy Adams, and his English wife Louisa. "We all went to church and heard a charity sermon preached by a Dr Crane before the Duke of Kent". In 1829 the Duke's former aide-de-camp purchased the house from the Duchess in an attempt to reduce her debts.10
Following the birth of Princess Victoria in May 1819 the Duke and Duchess sought to find a place where they could live inexpensively, considering the Duke's great debts (which were not paid until his daughter took the throne and paid them over time from her income). After the coast of Devon was recommended to them they leased from a General Baynes, intending to remain incognito, Woolbrook Cottage on the seaside by Sidmouth.5
The Duke of Kent died of pneumonia on 23 January 1820 at Woolbrook Cottage, Sidmouth, Devon5 and was buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.5 He died only six days before his father, George III, and less than a year after his daughter's birth.
He predeceased his father and his three elder brothers, but, since none of his elder brothers had any surviving legitimate children, his daughter, Victoria, succeeded to the throne on the death of her uncle King William IV in 1837.
The Duke of Kent had a number of mistresses. In Geneva: Adelaide Dubus, who died in childbirth of their daughter Adelaide Victoria Auguste Dubus (1789–in or after 1832) and Anne Gabrielle Alexandrine Moré mother of Edward Schenker Scheener (1789-1853). Scheener married but had no children and returned to Geneva, perhaps significantly in 1837, where he later died.11
The Duke was accompanied from 1790 until his marriage in 1818, 28 years, by Madame de Saint-Laurent or Julie de St Laurent (1760-1830) born Thérèse-Bernardine Montgenet.5 The portrait of the Duke by Beechey was hers.12
There is no evidence of children but many families in Canada have claimed descent from the couple.5
- 2 November 1767 – 24 April 1799: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward
- 24 April 1799 – 23 January 1820: His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent and Strathearn
Prince Edward was appointed a Knight of the Order of St. Patrick on 5 February 1783 and a Knight of the Order of the Garter on 2 May 1786. George III appointed him a member of the Privy Council on 5 September 1799. His elder brother, the Prince Regent (later King George IV), appointed the Duke of Kent a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the military division on 2 January 1815 and a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order (military division) on 12 August 1815.
As a son of the sovereign, the Duke of Kent had use of the arms of the kingdom from 1801 to his death, differenced by a label argent of three points, the centre point bearing a cross gules, the outer points each bearing a fleur-de-lys azure.13
HRH The Duke of Kent and Strathearn was the last Grand Master of the Ancients Grand Lodge of England before the Union of that body with the Premier (Moderns) Grand Lodge of England to form the United Grand Lodge of England in December 1813. His Brother the Duke of Sussex became the first Grand Master of the latter Institution.
The Canadian province of Prince Edward Island is named in honour of Prince Edward, as is Prince Edward County, Ontario, the village of Point Edward, Ontario, and the town of Kentville, Nova Scotia. The South African Prince Edward Islands are also named after him, the smaller of the two islands also bearing his name.
- The Duke of Kent
- We have the pleasure to announce the safe arrival of the Duke of Kent in England. His Royal Highness landed at Plymouth on Sunday evening under a Royal Salute from the Forts, the ships on the Sound, Cawsand Bay and the Hamoaze and set off immediately for Weymouth to pay his respects to their Majesties.
- While we rejoice in his safe arrival we cannot but regret that ill health should again have been the cause of his Royal Highness's return to this country , especially when we reflect on the motives which induced him to quit England.
- Before his Royal Highness was created Duke of Kent with a suitable income, he had incurred some debts. On his returning to England on finding that he was unable to live in any degree suitable to his rank, and at the same time to discharge his debts, he generously resolved again to go to America, and to remain there, living solely on his pay as an Officer, till his debts were entirely liquidated, to which purpose he gave up the whole of his income allowed him by Government, and in this resolution he persisted, till repeated bilious attacks compelled him to quit that country.
- We are sensible that an idea once prevailed that his Royal Highness, in early life, had participated in several of the fashionable vices of the age; but nothing was ever more remote from the truth—for it may be truly said of the Duke of Kent (what can be said of very few men of Rank) that he never was known to be intoxicated, or ever won or lost a farthing at any kind of play in his life; that he never endeavored to seduce the wife of another, or even made a promise he did not do his utmost to perform—his rigid adherence to his word is so remarkable that no consideration has ever induced him to swerve from a promise he has once given. To these good qualities his Royal Highness united a most benevolent disposition; and amidst all his pecuniary embarrassments he has invariably set apart 500l. a year of his income for the relief of private indigence and distress—throughout all British America he was so universally beloved, that the loss of his presence is reckoned one of the greatest misfortunes that could have befallen the country. And we have no hesitation in expressing our conviction, that no measure will more strongly contribute to pacify and reconcile all ranks of people in Ireland, than the presence of his Royal Highness in that country, where we now understand it is the intention of the Government to employ him.
- —The Times, Wednesday, 3 Sep 1800; pg. 2; Issue 4890.
- "Royal Burials in the Chapel since 1805". College of St George. stgeorges-windsor.org. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
- Whitehall, 23 April 1799.
The King has been pleased to grant to His Most Dearly-Beloved Son Prince Edward, and to the Heirs Male of His Royal Highness's Body lawfully begotten, the Dignities of Duke of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and of Earl of the Kingdom of Ireland, by the Names, Styles, and Titles of Duke of Kent, and of Strathern, in the Kingdom of Great Britain, and of Earl of Dublin, in the Kingdom of Ireland. London Gazette issue 15126, page 372, published 20 April 1799.
- Whitehall, 17 May 1799.
The King has been pleased to appoint His Royal Highness General Edward Duke of Kent, K.G. to be General and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Forces in North America, in the Room of General Robert Prescott. London Gazette issue 15133, page 458, published 14 May 1799.
- London Gazette issue 15840, page 1114, published 3 September 1805
- Elizabeth Longford, ‘Edward, Prince, duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767–1820)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
- The Times, Monday, 22 Jul 1799; pg. 3; Issue 4541.
- By the arrival of the Packet from America we learn that the Duke of Kent was to embark at Halifax for this country about the 5 August on board of the Assistance, Captain Hall, his Royal Highnesses state of health rendering his return to England necessary. Very few Officers have been so constantly kept on foreign service as his Royal Highness, who we have reason to believe is coming home to be appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The Times, Friday, 22 Aug 1800; pg. 3; Issue 4880.
- London Gazette issue 15464, page 304, published 23 March 1799
- Whitehall, 25 November 1805.
His Majesty has been pleased to grant unto His Royal Highness Edward Duke of Kent the Offices and Places of Keeper and Paler of the House Park of Hampton-Court, and of Mower of the Brakes there, and of the Herbage and Passage of the said Park, with the Wood called Browsings, Windfall Wood, and dead Wood, happening in the said Park; and of all the Barns, Stables, Outhouses, Gardens and Curtilages belonging to the Great Lodge in the said Park, together with the said Lodge itself &c. during his Majesty's pleasure. London Gazette issue 15865, page 1467, published 23 November 1805
- T F T Baker, C R Elrington (Editors) A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7 Victoria County History 1982, pp. 128-131
- R. A. Jones, ‘Scheener, Edward Schencker (1789–1853)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
- Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online Vol VI
- Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
- Naftel, W.D. (2005). Prince Edward's Legacy: The Duke of Kent in Halifax: Romance and beautiful buildings. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Formac Publishing. ISBN 978-0-88780-648-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn|
- Cottage Orné: Woolbrook cottage in May 2009, now the Royal Glen hotel
- Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
Cadet branch of the House of WelfBorn: 2 November 1767 Died: 23 January 1820
|Governor of Gibraltar
John Campbell, of Strachur
|Commander-in-Chief, North America
The Duke of Atholl
|Grand Master of the
Antient Grand Lodge of England
The Duke of Sussex
as Grand Master of the United
Grand Lodge of England