Edward Augustus Hanover Duke of Kent and Strathearn
- Born: 2 Nov 1767, Buckingham Palace, London, England
- Marriage: Mary Louise Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld; Duchess of Kent on 29 May 1818 in Schloß Ehrenburg, Coburg, Upper Franconia, Germany
- Died: 23 Jan 1820, Woodbrook Cottage, Sidmouth, Devon, England at age 52
- Buried: St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, England
Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn was a member of the British Royal Family, the fourth son of King George III and the father of Queen Victoria. He was created Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Earl of Dublin on 23 April 1799, the same year he became commander-in-chief in North America.
Prince Edward Augustus was born in Buckingham Palace. His father was the reigning British monarch, King George III, the eldest son of The Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. His mother was Queen Charlotte (née Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz), the daughter of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. As a son of the British monarch, he was styled His Royal Highness The Prince Edward Augustus from birth, and was fourth in the line of succession to the throne.
Prince Edward Augustus was baptised on 30 November 1767; his godparents were the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Lunenburg, Duke Karl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the Hereditary Princess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and the Landgravine of Hesse-Cassel.
In 1785, he began his military training in Germany. 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. He spent an additional two years in Geneva, before being sent to Gibraltar. There, he served as colonel of the 7th Royal Fusiliers. However, his severe sense of discipline made him unpopular among his troops.
The Fusiliers were ordered to Canada in May 1791. The prince was promoted to the rank of major-general in October 1793 and lieutenant-general in January 1796. On 24 April 1799, he was created Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Earl of Dublin, and was later, in May, promoted to the rank of general and appointed the commander-in-chief of the forces in British North America. See Commander-in-Chief, North America. For most of this period 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.
On 24 May 1802, the Duke began an appointment as Governor of Gibraltar, with express orders by the government to restore discipline among the troops. However, the Duke's harsh discipline precipitated a mutiny by soldiers in the Royal Fusiliers and the 25th Regiment on Christmas Eve 1802. The Duke of York, then the commander-in-chief of the British Army, recalled him in May 1803 after receiving reports of the mutiny. The Duke of Kent formally held the governorship of Gibraltar until his death, although the Duke of York forbade him to return. As a consolation for the end of his active military career, he was promoted to the rank of field marshal and appointed Ranger of Hampton Court Park on 5 September 1805. The Duke of Kent continued to serve as honorary colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot (the Royal Scots) until his death.
Prince Edward Augustus became 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 made him a member of the Privy Council on 5 September 1799. His elder brother, the Prince Regent (later King George IV), created 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.
The Duke of Kent had a number of mistresses, most notably Adelaide Dubus (with whom he may have had an illegitimate daughter Adelaide Victoria Augusta Dubus 1789-1790) and later Julie de St Laurent. However, he remained single until 1818 when, following the death 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, had no surviving legitimate children. King George's surviving daughters were all past likely childbearing. The other 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 sixth son of King George III, the Duke of Sussex, had already married, albeit in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.)
The Duke of Kent became engaged to Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (17 August 1786 \endash 16 March 1861), the daughter of Duke Franz Friedrich of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and the widow of Emich Karl, Prince of Leiningen. She was also the sister of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the widower of Princess Charlotte Augusta. The couple married on 29 May 1818 at Schloss Ehrenburg, Coburg and again on 11 July 1818 at Kew Palace, Richmond Park, Surrey. They had one child,
* Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent (24 May 1819 \endash 22 January 1901)
Later life and legacy
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 took a lease on Woodbrook Cottage in Sidmouth. However, the they did spend considerable time in London.
The Duke took great pride in his daughter, bringing the infant to a military review, to the outrage of the Prince Regent, who demanded to know what place the child had there.
The Duke of Kent died on 23 January 1820 at Woodbrook Cottage, Sidmouth, Devon, after a brief illness apparently brought on by a long walk on a cold, wet day with insufficient footwear. He was buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. He died only six days before his father, George III and less than a year after his daughter's birth.
The Duke of Kent 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 King William IV in 1837.
Victoria reigned until 1901, and her grandchildren eventually married into almost all of Europe's royal families. They included the Queens Consort of Norway, Greece, Romania and Spain, the Crown Princess of Sweden, The Empress of all the Russias, the King of the United Kingdom, and the German Emperor. Victoria was given a military funeral, as she had requested, as the daughter of a soldier.
Titles and styles
* 2 November 1767\endash 24 April 1799: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward Augustus
* 24 April 1799\endash 23 January 1820: His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent and Strathearn
* Grand Master of the Ancient Grand Lodge of England, 1813
The Canadian province of Prince Edward Island is named in honour of Prince Edward, as is Prince Edward County, Ontario, as is 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.
Edward married Mary Louise Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld; Duchess of Kent, daughter of Francis Frederick Anton Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Countess Augusta Caroline Reuß of Ebersdorf and Lobenstein, on 29 May 1818 in Schloß Ehrenburg, Coburg, Upper Franconia, Germany. (Mary Louise Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld; Duchess of Kent was born on 17 Aug 1786, died on 16 Mar 1861 in Frogmore House, Frogmore, Windsor, Berkshire, England and was buried in Duchess of Kent's Mausoleum, Frogmore, Windsor, Berkshire, England.)