Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Death of William of Gloucester

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By all accounts, it was a charmed life...

He was baptised William Andrew Henry Frederick in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle by Cosmo Lang, the Archbishop of Canterbury; his uncle George VI and grandmother Queen Mary were among his godparents, joining The Viscount Gort, Lord William Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, and Lady Mary Hawkins. As a small boy Prince William went to live in Australia when his father, the Duke of Gloucester, was sent there to serve as Governor-General; he later served both at the wedding and coronation of his second cousin, Elizabeth II.

Educated at Eton College, and Magdalene College, Cambridge, Prince William earned a BA in history; he was later awarded an MA. After spending a year at Stanford University, he joined Lazards Bank. Subsequently he went to work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, under which aegis he was posted to Lagos and Tokyo. As his father's health began to fail in the early 1970s His Royal Highness returned to Britain to assume management of their home, Barnwell Manor. It was around this time the Prince was diagnosed with the family illness, porphyria.

An accomplished pilot, on this day in 1972 His Royal Highness appeared at an airshow at Halfpenny Green, an aerodrome near Wolverhampton, in the West Midlands. There his Piper Cherokee crashed in front of 30,000 spectators; also killed in the crash was the Prince's co-pilot Vyrell Mitchell.

Proof that no one's life is charmed, no matter how it looks from the outside.
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