Famed as much for his hedonistic lifestyle as he was for his untimely and mysterious death, not to mention his longstanding association with Benson & Clegg, little is known about the youngest brother of His Majesty King George VI – Prince George, Duke of Kent.
The Prince was born during the early days of the Edwardian era on 20th December 1902 at York Cottage on Sandringham Estate. As the fourth child to the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King George V and Queen Mary, respectively) he was fifth in the line of succession to the throne. As a young boy he excelled academically and at the age of 13 he was sent to naval college, like Princes Edward and Albert before him, and would remain on active service with the Royal Navy until 1929, serving on HMS Iron Duke and HMS Nelson. George detested naval life and, after many pleas to his father imploring that he be discharged from service, George found himself in the new role of civil servant, the first Royal to take such a position.
As fifth in line to the throne, there was very little responsibility placed on the Duke of Kent’s shoulders and he indulged in the decadence of the 1920’s with aplomb. Motor racing, drug taking and a string of public affairs with men and women – both before and after his marriage to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark in 1934 – all added to the enigmatic charm and charisma of the wayward Prince.
As one would expect of a man who had fought so hard to escape the rigour and restrictions of Royal life, the Prince was an exceptional dresser. Like his sartorially minded brother, Edward, George had a penchant for fine tailoring, with Mayfair being his destination of choice and Benson & Clegg being a firm favourite.
Much like His Majesty King George VI, the Duke was a frequent and loyal patron. Indeed, he was so beguiled by St James’s newest tailoring house, that he placed an order within its first week of business.
The Prince would invariably be seen wearing a double-breasted suit, characterised by its strong peak lapels and impeccable cut. When it came to shirts, his preferred choice was the English spread collar, finished with a neatly knotted tie. It was a style that was synonymous with the Prince and would become his signature look.
On 25th August 1942, at the age of 39, the Duke of Kent was killed along with 13 other servicemen, on board RAF Short Sunderland flying boat W4026, when the aircraft crashed into a hillside near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland while on non-operational duties. Much conjecture and speculation surround the events of that fateful day. Some say that the Duke was at the controls at the time of the crash. Others, that the flight was on a secret military mission to Sweden. No one will ever know. It all adds to the legacy and mystery of one of the Royal’s most enigmatic characters.