As the fourth son and fifth child of King George III, Prince Edward had no idea that his only child would one day be the longest-reigning (until Queen Elizabeth II that is!) and most popular British monarchs in history.
He was born on 2 November 1767 to King George III and Queen Charlotte in Buckingham House in London. Edward was christened on 30 November 1767 with Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Duke Charles of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Hereditary Princess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel serving as godparents.
As was usual for princes, Edward served in the British military in the army and underwent training in Germany. He would be appointed brevet colonel in the British Army on 30 May 1786, and three years later, the Prince was appointed colonel of the 7th Regiment of Foot. His time in the military was not perfect, as he would return to England without leave, and as a result, was shipped to Gibraltar as an ordinary officer. He could not stand the heat in the country, so he requested to be transferred to Canada, which was granted.
Prince Edward was the first member of the British Royal Family to tour Upper Canada and would later be promoted to major-general in October 1793. During his time in Canada, he was given the title of Duke of Kent and Strathearn on 24 April 1799. He spent time in both Quebec and Nova Scotia before returning to Gibraltar in 1802.
When Prince Edward’s niece, Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, died in 1817, the succession to the throne was in danger. Edward and two of his brothers (the Duke of Clarence – later King William IV – and the Duke of Cambridge) rushed into marriage contracts in bids to secure the throne. Their two other brothers, the Prince Regent and the Duke of York were estranged from their wives with no surviving legitimate children, and Edward’s sisters were childless and past childbearing age.
Thus, Prince Edward wed Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld on 29 May 1818 in Coburg in a Lutheran service and again on 11 July 1818 in Surrey. Slightly less than a year after their wedding, their only child, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, was born on 24 May 1819.
The Duke and Duchess of Kent’s new baby daughter was christened in Kensington Palace’s Cupola Room on 24 June 1819 in a private ceremony by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was then that her Christian name of Alexandrina was given with her second name as Victoria. Her first name was in honour of her godfather, Emperor Alexander I of Russia while her second name honoured her mother.
It was said Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn was extremely proud of his baby daughter but would not get to see her grow up and become monarch. He died before she was a year old on 23 January 1820 at the age of 52 from pneumonia in Woolbrook Cottage. Six days later, his father, King George III, would die at the age of 81.
The Prince was buried in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on 12 February.
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