Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Death of The Duke of Kent

As mysteries go, the one surrounding the death of The Duke of Kent - fourth son of England's George V and Queen Mary and therefore uncle to the current Queen - on this day in 1942 is as impenetrable as the fogs which occasionally swirl around the Scottish coastline where the Short Sunderland in which he was travelling en route to Iceland crashed.

PhotobucketIn lieu of an official explanation for what His Royal Highness was doing there, all we who dabble in history have to go on are rumour and innuendo; in the case of The Duke of Kent, fortunately, the rumour and innuendo are as thick and juicy as porterhouse steak. So let's tuck in, shall we?

There are those who maintain the Duke was some sort of spy, and seeing as it was wartime and he was a military officer, his death in the line of duty was an effective piece of propaganda to show that the Royal Family suffered from the effects of World War II not unlike many others. That the plane may have been shot down because it was thought to contain Nazi diplomat and Hitler's poodle Rudolf Hess is another theory that, when floated, stays aloft far more efficiently than the plane ever did.

The Prince, of course, was something of a scandal within the Royal Family, well-known in aristocratic circles for liking a bit of cock as well as a bit of coke; certainly, the sympathy for his widow, the sublimely elegant Princess Marina, bears out the image of the long-suffering wife, which she managed to string out into long-suffering widowhood until her own death in August 1968, two days after the 26th anniversary of her husband's untimely demise.
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