There was never any doubt that the Duke of Kent would be invited to the Coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla.Or that he would be given a promi
There was never any doubt that the Duke of Kent would be invited to the Coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla.
Or that he would be given a prominent place – on the second row – in Westminster Abbey.
And even though the number of family members asked to appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, was very much reduced compared with previous times, the Duke was still among them.
For he has been among the hardest working and most loyal of Royal servants.
He previously said of the Queen and his commitment to duty: ‘I always felt I wanted to support her. That’s by far the most important thing in life.’
And unlike his younger brother Prince Michael of Kent, he has largely stayed away from controversy, instead doing his best to live up to the ‘steady Eddie’ nickname lovingly given by his family.
The 87-year-old Duke, a cousin to both the late Queen and Prince Philip, was among those who walked behind Elizabeth II’s coffin as it was carried to Westminster Abbey.
The Duke of Kent was always close to the Queen. The pair were described as ‘whisper-close’ confidants. Above: The pair on Buckingham Palace’s balcony in 2022
The Duke of Kent and wife Katharine Worsley are seen on their wedding day at York Minster in 1961
Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, and his sister Princess Alexandra with their parents, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark and Prince George in October 1940
Demonstrating his decades of loyal service, the solemn journey came 70 years after he performed the same duty at the funeral of his uncle King George VI, the Queen’s father.
Back then, in 1952, he was just a 16-year-old but had already been the Duke of Kent for a decade, after he inherited the title following the shocking death of his father Prince George in a plane crash.
The following year he made the solemn vow at the Queen’s Coronation to be his cousin’s ‘liege man of life and limb’ and in the subsequent decades has certainly lived up to the promise.
The Duke has however come a cropper on at least four occasions on the road, with his most recent reported crash – five months after Prince Philip infamously overturned his Land Rover in 2019 – resulting in a police investigation.
But Edward Kent’s background made him ideally placed to be right at the heart of the Royal Family.
His father was the younger brother of both King George and the former King Edward VIII, whilst his mother, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, was the niece of the Duke of Edinburgh’s father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark.
The Duke stands far right on the Buckingham Palace balcony following the Coronation in May 2023
The Duke of Kent is seen in July 1954, a month after he was hospitalised following a head-on collision
The Duke, standing next to Princess Anne and flanked by his sister, Princess Alexandra (right) on the second row at Westminster Abbey for the Coronation of King Charles III
The 87-year-old Duke, who is also a cousin of the late Prince Philip, walked behind the Queen’s coffin at her funeral in September 2022 (above left), seven decades after he had performed the same duty (right) when the Royal Family said goodbye to King George VI
Born in his parents’ first home in London’s Belgravia in 1935, the Duke was named after Prince George’s elder brother Edward, the future King.
At his christening at Buckingham Palace was a nine-year-old Princess Elizabeth, as well as King George V and Queen Mary – his godparents – and the then Prince of Wales.
The following year, his sister, Princess Alexandra, was born on Christmas Day. Her arrival was followed six years later by Prince Michael’s birth.
The tragic and rather mysterious death of their father Prince George, who had been flying in the service of the wartime RAF when he died, came less than two months after his youngest son’s arrival.
George was killed along with 13 other crew members shortly after take-off from the Scottish Highlands. Their Sunderland flying boat had been bound for Iceland.
Little is known about the circumstances of the crash, but it shook the family to its core.
The Duke of Kent, the Duchess of Gloucester and the Duke of Gloucester in the King’s coronation portrait released in May 2023
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent leaves the Coronation in a rain-soaked London
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent attends the National Service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph on November 13, 2022
Unlike his younger brother Prince Michael of Kent, the Duke has largely stayed away from controversy, instead doing his best to live up to the ‘steady Eddie’ nickname lovingly given by his family. Above: Prince Edward and Prince Michael arrive for the Queen’s funeral
The Duke of Kent is seen above walking behind the coffin of King George VI with (from left to right) Prince Philip, the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Windsor
The Duke of Kent, then 17, is seen above (bottom right) wearing a top hat as he follows King George VI’s coffin through Marble Arch
Born in his parents’ first home in London’s Belgravia in 1935, the Duke of Kent was named after his father Prince George’s elder brother Edward, the future King
The widowed Princess Marina is seen with Prince Edward, Princess Alexandra and the young Prince Michael (left) at their Buckinghamshire home in 1950
The Duke of Kent riding a bike on his 15th birthday in 1950. By then, he was already obsessed with engines and cars
Edward, then just six, was thrust into the limelight as he inherited his father’s title.
Educated at Eton and then in Switzerland, the Duke went on his first overseas tour – to Singapore – in 1951, when he was just 16.
Accompanying his devoted mother, the trip was an ideal opportunity for the Duke to learn duties that would form the centrepiece of his life as a senior royal in the future.
But it was at the Queen’s Coronation that he faced his first major test as a key member of the world’s most famous family.
In his autobiography, A Royal Life, which was released last year, the duke told how, having been informed would have a prominent role in the ceremony, he became nervous about forgetting his lines.
The Duke was told that he would be seated prominently alongside Prince Philip and his uncle, Prince Henry, as one of three royal dukes who were to pay homage to the Queen.
‘My chief anxiety was that I would forget my lines. I had been given the impression that I had to remember them so I had learned them by heart,’ he recalled.
Fortunately, when his big moment finally came, the Bishop of Durham held up a card with the words that the Duke would need.
‘It was quite daunting,’ he said, adding: ‘The whole service was pretty long and it was certainly very impressive.
At the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, there were dozens of British royals and hundreds of other dignitaries in attendance. Above: (Left to right) Prince Michael of Kent, the Duke of Kent, the Duchess of Kent, Crown Princess Marthe of Norway, Crown Prince Olaf of Norway, Princess Margaret, the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the Earl of Athlone, the Duke of Gloucester, the Princess Royal, the Earl of Harewood, Prince Richard, the Duchess of Gloucester, Prince William, and Princess Alice Countess of Athlone
The Duke and Duchess of Kent had three children together. The arrival of George, Earl of St Andrews (right) in 1962, was followed by Lady Helen Taylor (left) in 1964 and Lord Nicholas six years after that. Above: The family in 1975
Lady Helen Taylor, 58, and her husband Timothy are seen in October last year
Lord Nicholas Windsor is seen arriving with his wife for the Queen’s 80th birthday party at the Ritz in 2006
George Windsor is seen with Daniel Chatto – the husband of Princess Margaret’s daughter Lady Sarah Chatto – at the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor in 2019
‘It got to the point where people were eating sandwiches out of their coronets.’
The Duke’s career in the Army began in 1953, when he entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
It was the start of a 21-year military career which saw the duke serve with distinction in conflict zones including Northern Ireland and Cyprus.
His first brush with danger on the road came in June 1954, when the Duke, then 18, was involved in a head-on collision.
The accident, in which he was driving a Hillman, left him in hospital with concussion but in no way deterred him from getting back behind the wheel.
Just three months later the Duke’s new car collided with a fallen tree, leaving him with a scratch above his right eye.
But it was in July 1955 that the Duke had a real dance with death. The then 19-year-old’s 2.5-litre Sunbeam convertible hit a tree and plunged into a ditch near Sandhurst.
Prince Edward, his head bleeding and bruised, had to crawl from the twisted wreckage.
A witness who saw the remains of the Duke’s car told how he was ‘lucky to escape with his life’.
He went on to spend more than a week in hospital, before passing out of Sandhurst soon after.
In his most recent accident, in June 2019, the Duke’s Jaguar collided with a Mini being driven by a university student.
The young woman later recalled her ‘terrifying ordeal’, which saw the Duke allegedly pull out in front of her car, forcing her to slam on the brakes and then crash into the central reservation.
The June 1954 collision came when the Duke was driving a Hillman (right). The Duke suffered concussion
The Duke of Kent is seen after arriving at London Airport in his Jaguar car in 1960
The Duke getting into his then new 2.9-litre Aston Martin in 1957, two years after his serious crash
The Duke of Kent racing a go kart while in Hong Kong with his regiment the Royal Scots Greys in 1963
The Duke of Kent is seen inspecting a new BMW at the London Motor Show in 1972
The Duke of Kent drives an E-type Jaguar around Charterhall race circuit in Berwickshire, Scotland in 1958
The Duke and Duchess of Kent leaving London Airport after holidaying in Italy in 1972
It was while he was at the Yorkshire base of his regiment, the Royal Scots Greys, later in the 1950s that the Duke met the woman who would become his wife.
His romance with Katharine Worsley, the daughter of a Yorkshire landowner, was described at the time as something ‘straight out of the pages of Wuthering Heights of Jane Eyre’.
By the time of their wedding day in 1961, the couple were the latest hot property of the House of Windsor – more than a decade before the far more high-profile Prince Charles and Princess Diana had even met.
Thousands lined the 23-mile route between the wedding venue, York Minster, and Katharine’s family home.
Her wedding dress was made of 250 yards of organdie that was woven with masses of silver thread.
They spent their honeymoon in a secluded villa in Majorca, before celebrating the birth of their first child the following year.
The arrival of George, Earl of St Andrews, was followed by Lady Helen in 1964 and Lord Nicholas six years after that. Socialite Lady Amelia Windsor is one of his grandchildren.
But the family unit was hit by tragedy in 1975 when, according to reporting at the time, the Duchess underwent an abortion after contracting German measles while pregnant.
Another pregnancy two years later ended with a stillbirth that triggered a bout of severe depression for the Duchess.
Whilst she had returned to royal duties by 1979, the death of her baby son, named Patrick, continued to hit her hard and she spent seven weeks in hospital for treatment and rest.
The Duke’s own relationship with his wife was suffering too and there were reports that he had consulted the Queen about the possibility of divorce.
The Duke and Duchess of Kent are seen during Trooping the Colour in June 2022
In his role as president of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club from 1969, the Duke became a well-known face on television every year, Above: The Duke of Kent is seen handing the Wimbledon trophy to men’s champion Rod Laver in 1969
Britain’s Andy Murray receives the Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy from Prince Edward, Duke of Kent in 2013
The Princess of Wales and the Duke of Kent on centre court at Wimbledon following the men’s final in 2021
After she allegedly advised that they try to stay together, the couple did not split.
The Duchess was later diagnosed with both Epstein-Barr virus, which has symptoms resembling ME or Chronic Fatigue syndrome and coeliac disease, which prevents the stomach from being able to process gluten.
Yet it was the Duchess’s faith helped to sustain her through the difficult times and in 1994 she converted to Roman Catholicism.
The Duke, whilst remaining an Anglican, attended mass with her at Westminster Cathedral on occasion.
Whilst they are still formally together, they have lived separately for many years, with Katharine shunning her HRH title and preferring to use her first name rather than being addressed as a duchess.
The couple’s official residence is Wren House at Kensington Palace.
However, most of his time was taken up by his commitment to royal duties, which have seen him have involvement with 140 different charities, organisations and professional bodies.
In his role as president of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club from 1969, the Duke became a well-known face on television every year when he presented trophies at Wimbledon to champion and runner-up.
His involvement at the top tennis event only came to an end in 2021, when he stepped down as president after more than five decades.
The Duke has also represented the monarch on numerous overseas trips and served as his role as Vice Chairman of the Overseas Trade Board, and then later of British Trade International from 1976 to 2001.
His closeness to the Queen was typified in May 2021, when he stepped in as her ‘plus one’ at Trooping the Colour, following the death of Prince Philip the previous month.
The Duke of Kent had his first reported car crash in June 1954. He was left with concussion and had to go to hospital. Above: The Daily Mail’s coverage of the crash
Another serious accident came in July 1955, when the Duke’s car hit a tree before plunging into a ditch. The Duke again had to go to hospital after suffering head and facial injuries
In March 1961, the Daily Mail told of the news of the Duke of Kent’s engagement to Katharine Worsley. The couple had kept their impending union secret for six weeks
The couple’s wedding in 1961 broke with royal tradition by taking place at York Minster. Above: The Daily Mail’s coverage of the big day
This was followed with his appearance by the Queen’s side during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations last year.
And whilst both the Duke’s children and his brother Prince Michael have hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in the past, he has remained largely below the radar.
In his book, the Duke’s warm words about the Queen summed up the commitment to duty that has defined him.
Choosing words that few could disagree with, he said: ‘I always felt I wanted to support her. That’s by far the most important thing in life.’