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Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester

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Subject: Prince William of Gloucester, George V, Duke of Gloucester, House of Windsor, Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie
Collection: 10Th Royal Hussars Officers, 1900 Births, 1974 Deaths, Bailiffs Grand Cross of the Order of St John, British Field Marshals, Burials at the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, Dukes of Gloucester, Earls of Ulster (1928), Governors-General of Australia, Graduates of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Grand Cordons of the Order of the Chrysanthemum, Great Masters of the Order of the Bath, House of Windsor, King's Royal Rifle Corps Officers, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Knights Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Knights of St Patrick, Knights of the Garter, Knights of the Thistle, Lords High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Marshals of the Royal Air Force, People Educated at Eton College, People Educated at St Peter's Court, People of the Edwardian Era, People of the Victorian Era, Presidents of the Football Association, Princes of the United Kingdom, Recipients of the Canadian Forces Decoration, Recipients of the Royal Victorian Chain
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Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester

Prince Henry
Duke of Gloucester (more)
Photographic portrait as
Governor-General of Australia
Born (1900-03-31)31 March 1900
York Cottage, Sandringham, United Kingdom
Died 10 June 1974(1974-06-10) (aged 74)
Barnwell Manor, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom
Burial 14 June 1974
Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore
Spouse Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott
Issue Prince William of Gloucester
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Full name
Henry William Frederick Albert
House House of Windsor
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Father George V
Mother Mary of Teck
Occupation Governor-General of Australia, Military
His Royal Highness
The Duke of Gloucester
11th Governor General of Australia
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister John Curtin
Frank Forde
Ben Chifley
Preceded by The Lord Gowrie
Succeeded by Sir William McKell

Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester Queen Mary.

Under the terms of the Counsellor of State from 1937 to 1952, if the monarch were incapacitated or absent from the country.

The Duke served as a soldier for most of his life. He was also the 11th Governor-General of Australia, from 1945 to 1947. At his death in 1974, he was the last surviving knight of the Order of St. Patrick, as well as the last surviving child of King George V and Queen Mary.


  • Early life 1
  • Childhood and education 2
  • Military service 3
  • Duke of Gloucester 4
  • Marriage and family 5
  • Abdication of Edward VIII 6
  • Second World War 7
  • Governor-General of Australia 8
  • Later life 9
  • Titles, styles, honours and arms 10
    • Titles and styles 10.1
    • Honours 10.2
      • Military 10.2.1
    • Arms 10.3
  • Ancestry 11
  • Notes 12
  • External links 13

Early life

Prince Henry was born on 31 March 1900, at King Edward VII).[1] His mother was Mary of Teck, the only daughter of Prince Francis, Duke of Teck and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge.[1] In 1898, Queen Victoria issued letters patent granting the children of the Duke and Duchess of York the style Royal Highness. Thus he was styled His Royal Highness Prince Henry of York from birth. At the time of his birth, he was fifth in the line of succession to the throne, behind his grandfather, father and two elder brothers.

He was baptised at the private chapel of Duke of Cambridge stood proxy); and Field Marshal The Earl Roberts (for whom General Sir Dighton Probyn stood proxy).[2] He was informally known to his family as Harry.[3]

Childhood and education

At Eton College in 1916

As a young boy, Prince Henry suffered from ill health very much like his older brother Albert. He also had knocked knees and had to wear painful leg splints. He was an extremely nervous child, and was often victim to spontaneous fits of crying or giggling, and also like his brother, Henry had a combination of speech disorders.[4] They both had rhoticism, which prevented them from pronouncing the sound r, but while Albert’s pronunciation was slightly reminiscent of the “French r”, Henry was completely unable to pronounce it, causing the intended r to sound like [w]. On top of this, Henry also had a nasal lisp and an unusually high pitched tone, resulting in a very distinctive voice.[5]

By 1909, Henry’s poor health had become a serious concern for his parents. He was very small for his age, and was prone to get very aggressive colds. “You must remember that he is rather fragile and must be treated differently to his two elder brothers who are more robust” wrote Prince George to Henry’s tutor, Mr. Henry Peter Hansell.[6]

On May 6, 1910, Prince George became king and Henry, the third in line to the throne. The king was persuaded by Mr. Hansell that it would be good for Henry’s character to attend school, where he could interact with boys his age. The king, having previously rejected this proposition for his two elder sons, agreed on the basis that it would help him “behave like a boy and not like a little child”.[7] Prince Henry became the first son of a British monarch to attend school. After three days at St Peter's Court in Broadstairs, as a day boy, Mr. Hansell, noticing he liked it, asked the king to send him as a boarder, which he agreed to.[7]

Henry spent three years at St Peter's Court. Academically, he was not very bright. Although he did show a particular aptitude in mathematics, Henry’s sole interest became sports, particularly cricket and football. “All you write about is your everlasting football of which I am heartily sick” wrote his mother, answering a fully detailed letter from Henry about a match.[7]

In 1913, Henry went to Eton College[1] from September 1913 and during the First World War the house in which he lived, Mr. Lubbock's,[1] was also home to Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium (later Leopold III). His studies didn’t get better, but his nerves and disposition did. He made friends through his enthusiasm for sports, and his masters were very pleased with him, noting in his report that he was “thoroughly willing, cheerful, modest & obedient”. To his father, these values were the most important, having no time or interest in what he called “intellectuals”.[7]

By the time he went to Cambridge in 1919 with his brother Albert, Henry had outgrown all his brothers both in height and size, and enjoyed very good health. Their stay at Cambridge would last only one year and was very uneventful for both of them, as they were not allowed to live in Trinity College with the other undergraduates, due to their father’s fear of them mixing with undesirable company.[7]

Military service

Unlike his brothers, Prince Henry joined the Army instead of the Royal Navy. He attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, in 1919.[1] He later served with The King's Royal Rifle Corps and the 10th Royal Hussars[1] before retiring from the active list in 1937.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the British Expeditionary Force, serving as a Chief Liaison Officer.[1] He was slightly wounded in 1940 when his staff car was attacked from the air.[1] In 1940 he became second-in-command of the 20th Armoured Brigade.[1] He was appointed a Field Marshal in 1955[1] and a Marshal of the Royal Air Force in 1958.[8]

Duke of Gloucester

On 31 March 1928,[9] his father created him Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, and Baron Culloden, three titles that linked him with three parts of the United Kingdom, namely England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Before his marriage, Prince Henry´s greatest ambition was to someday command his regiment, the 10th Royal Hussars, or at least spend as much time in the army as possible. Although he was a capable soldier, as the King's son he was prevented from joining his regiment abroad, and this meant he was generally seen as an outsider to his fellow officers. To his increasing despair, he had to fulfill the many royal duties his father assigned him.[10]

In September 1928, Henry left England along with his brother Edward, Prince of Wales, to shoot big game in Africa. The brothers parted in Nairobi, where Henry was to stay for a while. There, he was entertained by Mansfield and Beryl Markham. Beryl and Henry soon started an affair. In November, the brothers were recalled to England due to their father’s worsening health, and soon after Beryl returned too. At the Grosvenor Hotel, close to Buckingham Palace, the affair continued with Prince Henry openly hosting parties with her in her suite, and drinking too much.[7]

The affair, widely known by the London society, shocked the Queen, to the delight of the Prince of Wales who remarked that “for once Queen Mary’s blue-eyed boy was in trouble instead of himself”. The King stepped in, he thought that keeping Henry busy would be the best way to end the affair, and also to keep him from drinking too much, too often. That year, he arranged a series of tours for his son to undertake.[7]

In 1929, he went to Japan to confer the Garter on the Emperor, and a year later he attended the [10]

Marriage and family

Bernard Tussaud finishes the wax figure of Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott and Prince Henry.

When he returned from his trip to Japan in 1929, the affair with Markham ended. Her husband wanted a divorce and threatened to disclose Prince Henry's private letters to his wife, if he did not "take care of Beryl". The Duke and Beryl never met again, although she did write him when he visited Kenya in 1950 with his wife, but he didn't write back. Prince Henry's solicitors paid an annuity until her death in 1985.[7]

After his tour of Australia and New Zealand, and pressured by his parents, Prince Henry decided it was time to settle down and proposed to Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott, sister of one of Henry's best friends Lord William Montagu Douglas Scott. The proposal, wrote Lady Alice many years later, was not at all romantic as "it was not his way", instead he just "mumbled it as we were on a walk one day".[11] They were married on 6 November 1935. The marriage was originally planned to take place at Westminster Abbey, but was moved to the more modest Chapel Royal at St James's Palace due to the death of Lady Alice's father, John Montagu Douglas Scott, 7th Duke of Buccleuch, shortly before the wedding.

Following their wedding, Alice became known as HRH The Duchess of Gloucester. Together they had two sons:[1]

The Duke with his son, William in 1943

The couple lived first at a royal pavilion in Aldershot, near the barracks of the Duke´s regiment. "It was a very simple cabin" recalled the Duchess of Gloucester, and "the only royal thing about it was my husband's presence".[11] After his father's death, the Duke bought Barnwell Manor with the larger part of his inheritance. It was a large country house in Northamptonshire which had belong to his wife's ancestors. As their London seat, they were given York House in St. James's Palace.

Abdication of Edward VIII

In December 1936, Henry's brother Edward VIII, Duke of Kent, would have to increase their royal engagements considerably to support the new King.[7]

Edward VIII, who became Duke of Windsor, recalled that it was Henry who least reacted to the news of his abdication. The brothers had never been close, and apart from horses, they didn't have much in common. But Edward did admit regretting the implications the abdication would have on "The Unknown Soldier", a nickname he teasingly used to refer to Henry, owing to his low profile.[12]

The abrupt change in Prince Henry's somewhat carefree life to that point, were made clear by the new King on the very first evening of his reign. "If You Two think that, now that I have taken this new job on, you can go on behaving just as you like, in the same old way, you are very much mistaken! You Two have to pull yourselves together" warned the King to his two brothers at dinner.[13]

Although from that moment on, the Duke of Gloucester supported his brother, and later his niece, tirelessly and dutifully, he did have a deep fondness for whiskey. On one occasion, Queen Mary wrote to the Duchess suggesting that if they were planning to visit, the Duke should bring his own supply of whiskey, "as we have not got much left, and it is so expensive". Even Noble Frankland, who wrote the Duke's biography after his death at the request and supervision of the Duchess, wrote that : "He did not eschew a glass of whisky...or the occasional blasphemous oath.".[7][14]

King George VI had great affection for his younger brother. Circumstances had made them closer following the abdication, and the King felt he could trust Prince Henry with important matters, which he dutifully undertook. Sometimes though, the organized King found his brother's less systematic manner irritating. On one occasion after a day of shooting at Balmoral Castle, the King found a mistake on his shot game record, where there seemed to be a pair of grouse missing. A member of staff suggested the King to call and ask the Duke of Gloucester, who was staying at Birkhall. When the Duke confirmed he had taken the birds, said member of staff was surprised at the King's gruff warning to his brother that he should never again take birds without telling him.[15]

Second World War

After the outbreak of the Second World War, the Duke of Gloucester, as Chief Liaison Officer to Lord Gort, spent almost the entire first year of the war in France. Besides boosting the troops morale, he became useful as a first hand witness of the situation reporting to government officials and the King, to whom he continually wrote detailed and objective accounts of what was happening. Always eager to get involved, the Duke often found himself in dangerous situations, but did not seem overly worried "Motoring about is not nice as many villages are being bombed" he wrote to his wife in his usual straightforward and dismissive manner. The Duke's two narrowest escapes both came in May, 1940. Having known King Leopold of Belgium from schooldays, the Duke wanted to meet with him personally to offer support after rumours of Belgium's surrender to Germany became known. On 14 May, he and his brother-in-law, Lord William Scott, drove from Hotel Univers in Arras into Belgium to see the King of the Belgians at a secret location. That night, Hotel Univers was bombed, resulting in several deaths, including those staying in the rooms next to the Duke's. The Duke wrote to his brother pointing out that King Leopold was "very depressed". As the Duke and Lord Scott drove back, they were caught up in heavy enemy bombing in Tournai, where their car caught fire. Luckily they managed to get out and dive into an alleyway, although not unscratched as the Duke needed medical attention for a profusely bleeding wound.[16]

Although generally optimistic, Prince Henry did sometimes suffer from bouts of depression during his service in 1940, especially at the end of his occasional leaves. "My beloved Alice, I did hate leaving you yesterday so very much that I could hardly keep a straight face" he wrote to his wife after reporting back. The strains of living in the French front also diminished his resolve at times "I think I hate this country and war more than is such an awful waste of everything" he told the Duchess.[16][17]

In June, after the fall of Dunkirk, the Duke was ordered back to England by an embarrassed General Headquarters, not having been able to secure the King's brother's safety. "Wherever I went, or had been, I was bombed" the Duke explained to his mother amused.[16]

The following year, the King arranged a four-month-long military and diplomatic mission for the Duke to the Middle East, India, and East Africa. The mission came just after Prince Henry had become a father for the first time, and it was considered a dangerous trip, as the Germans were rapidly advancing towards many of the territories the Duke would visit. The King even wrote to his sister-in-law telling her that he would act as guardian of the newly born Prince William if anything should happen to his brother.[16][18]

After Prince Henry's younger brother, the Duke of Kent, died in a plane crash in August 1942, it was decided that the Duke of Gloucester would not be sent on any further missions that could prove dangerous.[18]

Governor-General of Australia

In late 1944 the Duke was unexpectedly appointed Governor-General of Australia.[1] after his younger brother, the Duke of Kent, who had been offered the position died in an aeroplane crash in Scotland. The Labor Party of the Australian Prime Minister John Curtin had a policy of appointing Australians to the vice-regal post. In the circumstances of wartime, Curtin decided that appointing a member of the Royal Family would have three advantages: it would improve the likelihood that Britain would maintain its commitment to the defence of Australia, affirm that Australia had not become a dependency of the United States, and would be a politically neutral choice (opposition had greeted his last appointment).

The Duke had made a successful visit to Australia in 1934. Because the Duke was shy,[1] he sometimes appeared stiff and formal, but he and the Duchess travelled widely in Australia using his own plane during their time in office. When Curtin died in 1945, the Duke appointed Frank Forde as prime minister.

Gloucester left Australia in March 1947, after two years in the job, due to the need to act as Senior

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ Yvonne's Royalty Home Page – Royal Christenings
  3. ^
  4. ^ Edwards, Anne Edwards, Anne (1984). Matriarch. William Morrow. p. 195.   Matriarch



In 1921, Prince Henry was granted a personal coat of arms, being the royal arms, differenced by a label argent of three points, the centre bearing a lion rampant gules, and the outer points crosses gules.[21]



Prince Henry's coat of arms


At the time of his death, Prince Henry's full style was: His Royal Highness The Prince Henry William Frederick Albert, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster and Baron Culloden, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, Grand Master and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Grand Prior of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem.

  • 31 March 1900 – 22 January 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Henry of York
  • 22 January 1901 – 9 November 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Cornwall and York
  • 9 November 1901 – 6 May 1910: His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales
  • 6 May 1910 – 31 March 1928: His Royal Highness The Prince Henry
  • 31 March 1928 – 10 June 1974: His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester
    • in Scotland: May 1949, May 1961, May 1962, May 1963: His Grace The Lord High Commissioner
    • in Australia: 30 January 1945 – 11 March 1947: His Excellency The Duke of Gloucester, Governor-General of Australia

Titles and styles

Titles, styles, honours and arms

The Duke was the last surviving child of King Queen Mary. He died on 10 June 1974. He was buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore. His second son, Prince Richard, inherited the title of Duke of Gloucester. The Duke's wife, Alice, received permission from Queen Elizabeth II to be styled Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, to distinguish herself from Prince Richard's wife. She survived until 2004, becoming the longest-lived member of the British Royal Family in history.[19]

His first stroke was in 1965; together with later strokes, they left him required to use a wheelchair and he was unable to speak for his last remaining years. His last public appearance was for the unveiling of Queen Mary's plaque at Marlborough House in 1967, where he appeared weak and considerably older than his brother, the Duke of Windsor. In 1972, the Duke's elder son, Prince William, died in a plane crash.[1] The Duke was in such poor health that his wife hesitated whether to tell him. She later admitted in her memoirs that she did not, but, that he may have learned of their son's death from television coverage.[11]

The Duke attended the coronation of his niece Elizabeth II in 1953. Both the Duke and Duchess carried out royal engagements, including several overseas tours.[1] In 1954 the Duke served as the Treasurer of the Honourable Society of Gray's Inn. He suffered a series of strokes in later years,[1] and was too ill to attend the funeral of the Duke of Windsor in 1972, and the wedding of his younger son.

In May 1949, the Duke temporarily served in the office of Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. This appointment afforded him, for its duration, its Scottish precedence (immediately below the King) and style, His Grace.

Stamp of Australia, 1945, showing the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, when the Duke became Governor-General

Later life

As a parting gift, he left his own plane for use by the government and people of Australia. [1]

  • ^ Made on TV by Duke of Gloucester (Speech). Retrieved April 9, 2015. 
  • ^ Van der Kiste, J Van der Kiste, John (2003). George V’s children. Sutton Publishing LTD.   George V’s children
  • ^ a b c d e f g h i j Van der Kiste, J
  • ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41409. p. 3561. 3 June 1958. Retrieved 20 November 2008.
  • ^ Yvonne's Royalty: Peerage
  • ^ a b Royal Family: Years of Transition. 
  • ^ a b c The Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. 
  • ^ Bloch Bloch, Michael (2012). The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor. England.  
  • ^ Cadbury Cadbury, Deborah (2015). Princes at War. England.  
  • ^ Frankland Frankland, Noble (1975). Prince Henry Duke of Gloucester. England.  
  • ^ Corbitt Corbitt, F. J. (1956). My Twenty Years in Buckingham Palace. England.  
  • ^ a b c d Cadbury
  • ^ Aronson Aronson, Theo (2014). The Royal Family at War. England.  
  • ^ a b Aronson
  • ^ "Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, Later years and death". The Official Website of the British Monarchy. The Royal Household. 2008. 
  • ^ "Imperial Garter," Time Magazine, 13 May 1929.
  • ^ Heraldica – British Royal Cadency
  • External links

    Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester
    Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
    Born: 31 March 1900 Died: 10 June 1974
    Government offices
    Preceded by
    The Lord Gowrie
    Governor-General of Australia
    Succeeded by
    Sir William McKell
    Honorary titles
    Preceded by
    Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught
    and Strathearn
    Great Master of the Order of the Bath
    Succeeded by
    Charles, Prince of Wales
    Preceded by
    The Earl of Swinton
    Senior Privy Counsellor
    Succeeded by
    Sir Henry Slesser
    Peerage of the United Kingdom
    New creation Duke of Gloucester
    5th creation, 1st Duke
    Succeeded by
    Prince Richard
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