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Prince George: A Forgotten Royal

Updated on May 13, 2016
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BritFlorida loves to track down historical stories, especially scandals and mysteries from the UK.

Forgotten Royal: Prince George

Prince George. Scandals and Mysteries
Prince George. Scandals and Mysteries | Source

Prince George of Kent. British Royal Scandals

One historical British royal I've always rather liked is Prince George. He was good looking, dashing and enjoyed fast cars, fast airplanes and, it has to be said, fast women. True, he was a bit naughty and the extent of this isn't yet known - there may be more to his life than meets the eye. That is good.

But there are three scandals (or mysteries) surrounding his short life. They are:

  • The mystery of his alleged illegitimate son
  • The fact that it’s said that there were those in power who wanted him to be king
  • His mysterious and untimely death


So, let’s take each of these individually....

Kiki Preston

Source

Prince George: The illegitimate son

The prince was known for enjoying life. He was the fourth son in the family and although in line to the throne, he was relatively free to indulge his tastes. George, charming and good-looking, made the most of this and had, let’s say, eclectic tastes.

Historians are certain that there was indeed an illegitimate son. In those days, without social media,the internet and the freedom of the press, it was only those on royal circles who were aware of the prince’s numerous affairs. Even his relationship with scandalous socialite Kiki Preston, a cousin of Gloria Vanderbilt, was known by only a few.

For many years, historians believed that she was the mother of the illegitimate son but in recent years, it has been thought that Violet Evans, who the prince had met via her brother, was indeed the woman in question.

When she discovered her pregnancy in 1926, a solution was found. Another of her admirers, Ian Karslake who was a friend of George’s, agreed to marry her on the condition that the baby would be adopted. When the child was born, he was adopted by a wealthy American couple, who were living in England at the time, and he was named Michael Canfield. The family returned to the United States where the boy was brought up with the best of everything. In the ship’s log, Michael Canfield to be is named ‘Anthony Karslake’. There is no doubt that he was Violet’s son.

It’s said that Violet and Ian lived a rich and luxurious lifestyle afterwards, the implication being that they were handsomely rewarded for their silence. They lived abroad, almost as if their presence in Britain was a condition of their newly luxurious lifestyle

Duke of Windsor

Source

What happened to Michael Canfield?

He knew that he was adopted by his true heritage was never revealed to him. His privileged life enabled him to mix with the cream of society and he married the sister of Jacqueline Bouvier - or Jackie Kennedy as she was later known. Indeed, he was an usher when Jacqueline married John Kennedy.

When he later lived in England, there were constant comments about his likeness to George of Kent. The rumours intensified.

His marriage failed and it was when he was married again that someone who should know, revealed Michael’s paternity. This time his wife, Laura the Duchess of Marlborough, was certain that she knew his true father. The person who told her this was none other than George’s brother Edward; once King Edward VIII and by this time, the Duke of Windsor.

In 1969, Michael boarded a commercial aircraft to fly to London. On the flight, he was discovered to be dead. The cause was his long-time abuse of alcohol and other substances. He was forty-three years old.

Well-born

Source

Will we ever know the truth about Michael Canfield’s parentage?

Kik Preston threw herself out of a window in 1946. Violet, who has been shown to be Michael Canfield’s mother, also took her own life in 1951. ‘Allegedly’, they say.

We know that Prince George had relationships with both women. Everyone involved is now dead. In the absence of private papers or letters being discovered, we may never know.

Should Prince George be king?

When George V died, the British establishment was in a turmoil.

Most peers, members of parliament and top officials agreed that it would be disastrous for the country should the late king’s eldest son, Edward, become king.

It wasn't just his refusal to give up Wallis Simpson, his American, twice-divorced mistress. Indeed, Edward was adamant that he wanted to marry her. But this was the least of their worries.



Should Prince George be king?
Should Prince George be king? | Source

A woman?

Source

The search for a king

With the situation in Europe, and particularly Germany, worsening the elite knew that Edward was sympathetic to Hitler’s cause and indeed saw him as a great leader. They knew that Edward was working to avoid war with a country whose policies he admired. He believed that Germany was a good role model for Britain.

This was an appalling situation. When it became clear that Edward wouldn’t give up Wallis, then it became more and more likely that he would abdicate. This meant that the throne would be taken by the next in line, Albert.

But Albert, Bertie as he was known,was weak. He was shy and had a speech impediment that meant that, just as war was looming, he would be unable to rouse and motivate the population and keep morale high.

The country’s popular but wilful king had abdicated. If there was now a weak king, how would the public react? Could this be the end of the monarchy? Bertie was known to be terrified at the thought of becoming king - he was happy playing the country squire with his comely wife and his two small daughters.

And for that chauvinistic period of time, those daughters were another problem. Was Bertie not capable of fathering a son and heir? Plus, with Bertie as king,the throne would eventually pass to a woman - Princess Elizabeth. This looked like the end of the monarchy. First a headstrong, lovelorn king who had no backbone, then a weak, stammering king and then a queen?

Copyright free image by Allen Warren.
Copyright free image by Allen Warren. | Source

Next in line would be the third brother, Prince Henry. Not a whiff of scandal had been attached to him. But although he had been married for several years, there was no son and heir. The fourth son though, George, had been married to a European Princess since 1932. He was handsome and charismatic. She was beautiful and elegant. They were a glamorous couple.

He also had two children, the eldest being a boy. Had George become king, Britain’s present monarch would be that son, Edward, the present Duke of Kent, pictured on the right.

The mother of the potential kings was the strong and opinionated Queen Mary. Originally a German princess, she persuaded Bertie that it was his duty to follow royal protocol and accept the fact that he must be the next king. Messing with the natural order of succession could be even more damaging to the monarchy.

Bertie became George VI and with the huge support of his wife, overcame his misgivings and became a strong king whole the country through the Second World War.

The mysterious death of Prince George

George had always believed that flying was an important development and the way of the future. When the Second World War began, he became a group captain in the Royal Air Force. As a protected royal, his duties weren’t dangerous. Or were they?

In 1942, he was aboard an aircraft - a flying boat - that crashed into a hillside in Scotland. They were en route to Iceland. The prince,and everyone else aboard except one man, we killed instantly. The prince was thirty-nine years old.

Points to consider

  • It is said that when the prince’s body was found, a briefcase containing a large amount of money (possibly Icelandic currency) was still handcuffed to his wrist
  • Flying boats usually flew over the ocean, not the land. Why was the aircraft off course and flying over Scottish hills?
  • The plane crashed about fifty minutes into its flight and yet it was only about twenty minutes away from its place of departure. Why the time anomaly?
  • Several experienced pilots and navigators were aboard. Why was the aircraft so badly off course with such an experienced and extensive crew? It’s suggested that this could not be accidental
  • The plane took off with fifteen people aboard. At the crash site, fifteen bodies were found. And yet it was later discovered that the tail of the plane had been sheared off and its occupant, the rear gunner, survived. Who was the extra passenger?
  • Why was the one survivor made to sign the Official Secrets Act whilst recovering in hospital?
  • The occupants had told their relatives that they were embarking on a ‘secret mission’. What was this?
  • Why have the official documents related to the flight and the accident disappeared?


The death of Prince George of Kent
The death of Prince George of Kent | Source

The sons of King George V

King George V - family tree
King George V - family tree | Source
The King's Speech
The King's Speech

How would the history of Britain have been changed if Prince George had been on the throne in place of Bertie (George VI)?

George VI's wife, Elizabeth, played a large part in converting this shy man into an admired king. This film tells their story.

 

Related articles

  • By curious coincidence, George’s nephew also died in an aircraft thirty years later, almost exactly to the day. He was thirty years old. He too was a good looking and dashing prince who, like George, is largely forgotten. Read more here
  • Find out more about Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She married Bertie and became the Duchess of York. When he became king, as his consort she was Queen Elizabeth, When her daughter Elizabeth II became Queen, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon became the much-loved Queen Mother. Read more.
  • Laura, Michael’s second wife, was the widow of the Duke of Marlborough. His mother was Consuelo Vanderbilt from the wealthy American family. This means that her mother-in-law was the eccentric American socialite Gladys Deacon who you can read about here.
  • George’s elder brother Edward is best known for being the king who abdicated so that he could marry his mistress, American Wallis Simpson. But his mistress prior to Wallis was another American with a Vanderbilt connection who had married into the British aristocracy. She was Thelma, Viscountess Furness

See photographs of Prince George of Kent

© 2014 Jackie Jackson

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    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I'm not a mind reader when I predicted this would be HOTD. I just know quality when I see it. So beautifully done. I only just discovered that hubbers can recommend hubs for HOTD. Next time.

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @CatherineGiordano - thank so much :)

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Phyllis Doyle - thanks very much for dropping by.I'm so glad you enjoyed that article.

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Thanks Merrci - I enjoy it too much to stop :) I'm addicted.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @CatherineGiordano - I think you MUST be a mind-reader :)

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @techygran - thanks Cynthia!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Interesting isn't it @Randy Godwin? As you say, the situation asks several questions,

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Larry Rankin - thanks and I'm sure there will be more to come.

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @fpherj48 - thanks for reading!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Thank you @Catherine Giordano - you must be a mind reader!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Thanks so much @Margaret Schindel!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Corinna-Johnson - didn't he just!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @JayeWisdom - I agree that Bertie was the best choice. The fact that he had a strong wife probably helped. She was much-admired. I too think that William will make an excellent king but with Charles in between him and Elizabeth, hopefully he'll have several more years to enjoy his family without the extra concerns of being on the throne.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I was just thinking about your hub on the weekend after leaving a comment a few days earlier. I thought, "This hub really ought to be a HOTD." Looks like someone agreed with me.

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Koszegi Szanella - thanks for dropping by!

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Thank you Susan, the oddities of British history are so interesting to research.

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Health Reports - thanks for the thumbs up! George certainly got forgotten about in the Edward / George debacle.

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      Cynthia 2 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Very interesting BritFlorida, and I love your artistic presentation! Congratulations on the HOTD! Now that I have read this fascinating review, I will be back to read more! ~Cynthia

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      A very well written article which causes one think about what could have been,especially the way the British chooses a monarch.

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      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Congratulations on HOD!

      Such a scandalous tale. Conspiracy theories must abound.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I thoroughly enjoyed this very interesting story on the Royals.! Congrats on HOTD

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Very interesting history lesson on the Royals. I love reading about them and all the mysterious happenings. Well done, britflorida.

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Suzettenaples - so true. I think that if we keep investigating, we'll eventually get to the truth. I hope so anyway.

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @heidithorne - thank you so much! The royal stories are so interesting, that's for sure.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Hi @Fiorenza - yes, somany royal skeletons, that's for sure!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Thelma Alberts - thanks! There's never a dull moment with the royals,past or present.

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Mactavers - that's certainly true!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 2 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Congratulation of HOTD BritFlorida. It's such an interesting article and I totally agree, the graphics are amazing! Keep up the good work, won't you?

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Just yesterday I was think about this hub that I read a week ago. I was thinking this one really ought to be HOTD. I guess they read my mind.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Jackie, just stopping back to congratulate you on this hub's selection as today's Hub of the Day! Well done you.

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ecogranny - thanks for dropping by. These real life stories are certainly fascinating.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ebonny - thank you so much.I write a lot about royalty even though I'm like you and not passionate about the institution as a whole. But I just love the fascinating historical stories :)

    • Corrinna-Johnson profile image

      Corrinna Johnson 2 years ago from BC, Canada

      Another fascinating story about the British royals! Prince George certainly led an interesting life.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Interesting, but in hindsight it's obvious that the choice of 'Bertie' for king once Edward abdicated was the best thing for Britain. George, with his penchant for philandering, would most likely have caused as damaging (or worse) scandal than the present Queen Elizabeth's eldest son. Even though the royal in power as queen or king has no real power because there's a prime minister and parliament, the person on the throne should have unquestioned integrity and be a symbol for the people of that integrity. That is the main benefit of the monarchy (in my American opinion). It looks as though Queen Elizabeth will remain on the throne until she dies or becomes unable to reign, and I hope Prince William is made king.

    • Koszegi Szanella profile image

      Koszegi Szanella 2 years ago

      Great Hub!

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @mysuccess8 - thank you so much!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Your British exposés are always fascinating, BF, and this one is no exception. Congratulations on HOTD honors!

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      James Wilson 2 years ago from North America

      Congrats on Hub of the Day! Very interesting; as an American he is truly forgotten to me. We always focus on Edward and Albert, with almost no mention of the other brothers. Voted Thumbs Up and Interesting!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Congratulations on HOTD! This is so interesting and informative. I love to hear stories about the British monarchy. Such a tragic death and at such a young age. The British monarchy certainly keeps itself surrounded in mystery and I think that is why we love to hear about them. I would hate to think Prince George's plan crash was purposely done. Of course, there is speculation around and about Diana, Princess of Wales demise also. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us.

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      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Love your modern British history hubs! So interesting and definitely worthy of your Hub of the Day Award today. Congrats!

    • Fiorenza profile image

      Fiorenza 2 years ago from UK

      Interesting as I didn't know that they had a brother George. Lots of skeletons in the royal closets when you dig into them!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

      Congratulations on the Hub of the Day! Thanks for sharing this very informative story. I love reading about the British Monarchy.

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 2 years ago

      Very interesting. Royals and their lives are better than a Hollywood script.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      Another fascinating tale of a real life prince and a big mystery thrown in at the end. I love your historical vignettes. Always intriguing. Congratulations on Hub of the Day. Richly deserved.

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      ebonny 2 years ago

      Although the British monarcy is not a passion for me I must say I found this a fascinating read from start to finish. Voted up.

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      mySuccess8 2 years ago

      Fascinating, how these untold history's mysteries are so well-written in a concise manner with great images. I was engrossed in reading this. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Hi Kim,

      I'm fascinated by British history too. I plan to write much more on the subject :)

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Thank you so much, Caroline. It's such fun to do.

    • klidstone1970 profile image

      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      This was so interesting. I love anything to do with British history. Thank you for sharing. Kim

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      A very interesting discussion of Prince George. You are a born storyteller. And your art work is so beautiful.

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      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Can't see why Churchill would want to be rid of the Duke of Kent. If he didn't engineer an 'accident' for Edward, then why his youngest brother who wore an RAF uniform? What's needed is why he was off to Iceland - unless they had an offer he couldn't refuse, like cut-price oven fresh chickens - with Icelandic currency. Wasn't money laundering, was it?

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      It's OK Alan,I don't think you're having a go (I need all the help I can get!) Yes,there were plenty of theories about this being a plot. The major one was that Churchill engineered it. But if the idea was to get rid of the prince, surely there must have been an easier way?

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Margaret Schindel - The King's Speech is just fabulous, isn't it?

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @bravewarrior - indeed!

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Another interesting Hub subject on our royals. [Don't want to have a go, but a bit of editing might have enhanced it , have a gander, (e.g. in the paragraph headed 'What happened to Michael...')]

      I saw a report on George's sad end in the flying accident, but not this detailed, i.e., being in a seaplane flying over land. Could be it was on the shortest optimum route available to Iceland to save on fuel.

      Did someone think there was a plot of some sort? (In the same vein as Lord Kitchener in the ship sinking by Orkney, after hitting a German mine unknown to the ship's senior officer/navigator).

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      Jackie Jackson 2 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Nancy -I write them with you in mind :) Thanks so much!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Jackie, I know a fair amount about Edward and Bertie (and I adored The King's Speech!) but hadn't known much about Prince George. Thanks for all the fascinating background and juicy tidbits!

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      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      There are so many connections, mysteries, and hidden secrets in British aristocracy. It becomes confusing as to who is who. It almost seems to be a way of life that's acceptable and expected.

      So, who is Michael Canfield?

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      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 2 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Brit, your stories just keep me spellbound. Perhaps it's because of my eternal fascination with Britain, or perhaps it's just that you tell a great tale. I think it's the latter, and I enjoy your work so much. Thanks for sharing another great story of the lives of the English royals.