Prince George, Duke of Kent and Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent
Posted: 21 July 2013 9:00 pm Edited by: Karen Kilrow
Prince George was born on 20th December 1902 at York cottage on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. He was the fifth edition to the Prince and Princess of Wales’ growing family. As was the custom in the early 20th century the upbringing of children especially Royal children was left to a nanny. The Royal children’s nanny was Charlotte Jane Bill or as the children called her “lala”.
In 1917 at the age of 15 Prince George enrolled in the Osborne Royal Naval College and later move to the Dartmouth Naval College where he passed out in 1920.
Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark start in life was very different to that of her future husband. Princess Marina was born in the Nicholas Palace in Athens on 13th December 1906 her parents were Prince Nicholas a son of King George I of Greece and Grand Duchess Helen of Russia a cousin to the Russian Tsar.
Princess Marina’s early childhood was more relaxed, her home was similar to an English village with its walled gardens Marina and her two sisters had the freedom to roam the palace and gardens. Marina like George also had an English nanny Miss Kate Fox who brought up the royal princesses in a strict British fashion - windows were left open to let in fresh air and there was bible reading in the afternoon.
Marina’s early carefree childhood would soon be turned upside down, ending with the family living in exile in Paris. The first event leading to this was the assassination of her Grandfather King George of Greece in 1913. Three years later the Royal Palace of Tatoi was attacked by people who thought that the Royal family were pro-German. The family were exiled a number of times over the years, the final time was in 1923 after Greek and Turkish conflict. Marina and her family moved to Bois de Boulogne in Paris where her father set up an artist studio.
George and Marina met at a party given Lady Cunard. Marina was staying at Claridge’s Hotel Mayfair at the invitation of her sister, Olga and brother-in-law, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia. They met again the following year when Marina once again came to London with her sister and brother-in-law. At this meeting George was invited to the home of Paul and Olga in Bohinj in Yugoslavia, which George accepted and a week after he arrived at their log cabin George and Marina announced their engagement.
The official announcement was issued by Buckingham Palace on 28th August 1934 and the wedding was planned for November that year in Westminster Abbey. Before his wedding the King created Prince George the Duke of Kent, Earl of St Andrews and Baron Downpatrick. The marriage took place with great splendour on 29th November 1934 with an array of Royal guests from around Europe. The coach that carried Marina to her wedding was the Glass coach, her dress was made of silver brocade with a 12 foot train lined with silver lame and her veil of family lace & white tulle was held in place by a diamond fringe tiara. Prince George wore his Royal naval uniform with the sash of the Order of the Garter.
The new Duke and Duchess honeymooned in England ending up at Sandringham in time for the family Christmas. The newlyweds settled into life together at their London home of 3 Belgrave Square and their country home of Coppins in Buckinghamshire. The first of their three children, Edward George Nicholas Paul Patrick was born in 1935 followed by Princess Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel in 1936 and finally Prince Michael George Charles Franklin in 1942.
Before the War Prince George was made Group Captain in the Royal Air force and when war was declared George was set to his duty. On the 25th August 1942 Prince George was on his way to Iceland on a mission with the RAF when the plane he was flying crashed into a mountain side in Scotland and killed everyone on board. He was only 39.
His funeral took place in St George’s chapel, Windsor. It is reported that Marina only rose from her knees when her husband’s titles and orders were read out for the garter king of arms.
After Prince George’s death Marina found herself in an unusual situation, there had been no provision made for a young widow of a Royal Duke. All monies that was been received from the civil list while the Duke of Kent was alive stopped leaving the Duchess with no income. His Majesty King George VI came to the aid of his sister-in-law as did his mother Queen Mary.
Princess Marina still carried out official engagements and saw two of her three children marry, Prince Edward Duke of Kent to Miss Katherine Worsley at York Minster in 1961 and Princess Alexandra to Angus Ogilvy in Westminster Abbey in 1963.
In 1968 it was discovered that Princess Marina had an inoperable brain tumour. She passed away on 27th August 1968 Kensington Palace. Her funeral took place in the same place as her beloved George, St George’s Chapel Windsor and after the service she was buried next to him in the royal burial ground Windsor.