Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester

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For the youngest son of Charles I, see Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester.
Prince Henry
Photographic Portrait as Governor-General
Duke of Gloucester
Successor Prince Richard
11th Governor-General of Australia
Tenure 30 January 1945 – 11 March 1947
Predecessor Lord Gowrie
Successor Sir William McKell
Spouse Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott
Issue Prince William of Gloucester
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Full name
Henry William Frederick Albert
House House of Windsor
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Father George V
Mother Mary of Teck
Born (1900-03-31)31 March 1900
York Cottage, Sandringham, United Kingdom
Died 10 June 1974(1974-06-10) (aged 74)
Barnwell Manor, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom
Burial 14 June 1974
Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore
Occupation Governor-General of Australia, Military

Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester KG KT KP GCB GCMG GCVO (Henry William Frederick Albert; 31 March 1900 – 10 June 1974) was a soldier and third son of King George V and Queen Mary.

He was appointed potential regent for his niece, Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II), when his brother, King George VI, came to the throne in 1936. He was required to stay in the United Kingdom until Elizabeth came of age in case her father died and she ascended the throne as a minor.

The Duke served as a soldier for most of his life. He was also the 11th Governor-General of Australia, from 1945 to 1947. At his death in 1974, he was the last surviving knight of the Order of St. Patrick, as well as the last surviving child of King George V and Queen Mary.

Early life[edit]

Prince Henry was born on 31 March 1900, at York Cottage, on the Sandringham Estate.[1] His father was the Duke of York (later King George V), the eldest surviving son of the Prince of Wales, (later King Edward VII).[1] His mother was Mary of Teck, the only daughter of Prince Francis, Duke of Teck and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge.[1] In 1898, Queen Victoria issued letters patent granting the children of the Duke and Duchess of York the style Royal Highness. Thus he was styled His Royal Highness Prince Henry of York from birth.

He was baptised at the private chapel of Windsor Castle on 17 May 1900, by Randall Thomas Davidson, Bishop of Winchester, and his godparents were: Queen Victoria (his great-grandmother); the German Emperor (his cousin, for whom Prince Albert of Prussia stood proxy); Princess Henry of Battenberg (his paternal great-aunt); the Duchess of Cumberland (his paternal great-aunt, whose sister, his grandmother the Princess of Wales represented her); Prince George of Greece (his cousin, for whom Prince Henry's paternal grandfather the Prince of Wales stood proxy); Princess Carl of Denmark (his paternal aunt, for whom her sister Princess Victoria of Wales stood proxy); Prince Alexander of Teck (his maternal uncle, for whom Prince Henry's great-uncle the Duke of Cambridge stood proxy); and Field Marshal The Earl Roberts (for whom General Sir Dighton Probyn stood proxy).[2] He was informally known to his family as Harry.[3]

At Eton in 1916

Prince Henry attended St Peter's Court in Broadstairs[1] and Eton College[1] from September 1913 and during the First World War the house in which he lived, Mr. Lubbock's,[1] was also home to Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium (later Leopold III).

Military service[edit]

Unlike his brothers, Prince Henry joined the Army instead of the Royal Navy. He attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, in 1919.[1] He later served with The King's Royal Rifle Corps and the 10th Royal Hussars[1] before retiring from the active list in 1937.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the British Expeditionary Force, serving as a Chief Liaison Officer.[1] He was slightly wounded in 1940 when his staff car was attacked from the air.[1] In 1940 he became second-in-command of the 20th Armoured Brigade.[1] He was appointed a Field Marshal in 1955[1] and a Marshal of the Royal Air Force in 1958.[4]

Duke of Gloucester[edit]

On 31 March 1928,[5] his father created him Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, and Baron Culloden, three titles that linked him with three parts of the United Kingdom, namely England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Before his marriage, Prince Henry´s greatest ambition was to someday command his regiment, the 10th Royal Hussars, or at least spend as much time in the army as possible. Although he was a capable soldier, as the King's son he was prevented from joining his regiment abroad, and this meant he was generally seen as an outsider to his fellow officers. To his increasing despair, he had to fulfill the many royal duties his father assigned him.[6]

In 1929, he went to Japan to confer the Garter on the Emperor, and a year later he attended the coronation of Haile Selassie of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.[1] In 1934 George V (as King of Ireland) made him a Knight of St Patrick, Ireland's chivalric order. It was the second to last time this order was awarded (the last appointment being the Duke of York, later George VI, in 1936); at the time of his death, the Duke of Gloucester was the only remaining knight. In 1934, he went to Australia and New Zealand where the people received him with such overwhelming enthusiasm that one journalist wrote "(amounted) to something very near adoration".[6]


Bernard Tussaud finishes the wax figure of Lady Alice Scott and Prince Henry

After his tour of Australia and New Zealand, and pressured by his parents, Prince Henry decided it was time to settle down and proposed to Lady Alice Christabel Montagu Douglas Scott, sister of one of Henry's best friends Lord William Walter Montagu Douglas Scott. The proposal, wrote Lady Alice many years later, was not at all romantic as "it was not his way", instead he just "mumbled it as we were on a walk one day".[7] They were married on 6 November 1935. The marriage was originally planned to take place at Westminster Abbey, but was moved to the more modest Chapel Royal at St James's Palace due to the death of Lady Alice's father, John Montagu Douglas Scott, 7th Duke of Buccleuch, shortly before the wedding.

Following their wedding, Alice was known as HRH The Duchess of Gloucester. Together they had two sons:[1]

The Duke with his son, William in 1943

The couple lived first at a royal pavilion in Aldershot, near the barracks of the Duke´s regiment. "It was a very simple cabin" recalled the Duchess of Gloucester, and "the only royal thing about it was my husband's presence".[7] After his father's death, the Duke bought Barnwell Manor with the larger part of his inheritance. It was a large country house in Northamptonshire which had belong to his wife's ancestors. As their London seat, they were given York House in St. James's Palace.

Governor-General of Australia[edit]

In late 1944 the Duke was unexpectedly appointed Governor-General of Australia.[1] His younger brother, the Duke of Kent, had been offered the position, but he was killed in a plane accident in Scotland, a Sunderland Flying Boat. The Labor Party of the Australian Prime Minister John Curtin had a policy of appointing Australians to the vice-regal post. In the circumstances of wartime, Curtin decided that appointing a member of the Royal Family would have three advantages: it would improve the likelihood that Britain would maintain its commitment to the defence of Australia, affirm that Australia had not become a dependency of the United States, and would be a politically neutral choice (opposition had greeted his last appointment).

The Duke had made a successful visit to Australia in 1934. Because the Duke was shy,[1] he sometimes appeared stiff and formal, but he and the Duchess travelled widely in Australia using his own plane during their time in office. When Curtin died in 1945, the Duke appointed Frank Forde as prime minister.

Gloucester left Australia in March 1947, after two years in the job, due to the need to act as Senior Counsellor of State during a visit by King George VI and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret to South Africa.[1] As a parting gift, he left his own plane for use by the government and people of Australia.

Later life[edit]

Stamp of Australia, 1945, showing the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, when the Duke became Governor-General.

Returning to Britain, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester acquired Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire, while retaining an apartment in Kensington Palace.

In May 1949, the Duke temporarily served in the office of Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. This appointment afforded him, for its duration, its Scottish precedence (immediately below the King) and style, His Grace.

The Duke attended the coronation of his niece Elizabeth II in 1953. Both the Duke and Duchess carried out royal engagements, including several overseas tours.[1] In 1954 the Duke served as the Treasurer of the Honourable Society of Gray's Inn. He suffered a series of strokes in later years,[1] and was too ill to attend the funeral of the Duke of Windsor in 1972, and the wedding of his younger son.

His first stroke was in 1965; together with later strokes, they left him required to use a wheelchair and he was unable to speak for his last remaining years. His last public appearance was for the unveiling of Queen Mary's plaque at Marlborough House in 1967, where he appeared weak and considerably older than his brother, the Duke of Windsor. In 1972, the Duke's elder son, Prince William, died in a plane crash.[1] The Duke was in such poor health that his wife hesitated whether to tell him. She later admitted in her memoirs that she did not, but, that he may have learned of their son's death from television coverage.[7]

The Duke was the last surviving child of King George V and Queen Mary. He died on 10 June 1974. He was buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore. His second son, Prince Richard, inherited the title of Duke of Gloucester. The Duke's wife, Alice, received permission from Queen Elizabeth II to be styled Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, to distinguish herself from Prince Richard's wife. She survived until 2004, becoming the longest-lived member of the British Royal Family in history.[8]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 31 March 1900 – 22 January 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Henry of York
  • 22 January 1901 – 9 November 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Cornwall and York
  • 9 November 1901 – 6 May 1910: His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales
  • 6 May 1910 – 31 March 1928: His Royal Highness The Prince Henry
  • 31 March 1928 – 10 June 1974: His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester
    • in Scotland: May 1949, May 1961, May 1962, May 1963: His Grace The Lord High Commissioner
    • in Australia: 30 January 1945 – 11 March 1947: His Excellency The Duke of Gloucester, Governor-General of Australia

At the time of his death, Prince Henry's full style was: His Royal Highness The Prince Henry William Frederick Albert, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster and Baron Culloden, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, Grand Master and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Grand Prior of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem.


Prince Henry's coat of arms



In 1921, Prince Henry was granted a personal coat of arms, being the royal arms, differenced by a label argent of three points, the centre bearing a lion rampant gules, and the outer points crosses gules.[10]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ Yvonne's Royalty Home Page – Royal Christenings
  3. ^
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41409. p. 3561. 3 June 1958. Retrieved 20 November 2008.
  5. ^ Yvonne's Royalty: Peerage
  6. ^ a b Royal Family: Years of Transition. 
  7. ^ a b c The Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. 
  8. ^ "Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, Later years and death". The Official Website of the British Monarchy. The Royal Household. 2008. 
  9. ^ "Imperial Garter," Time Magazine, 13 May 1929.
  10. ^ Heraldica – British Royal Cadency

External links[edit]

Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 31 March 1900 Died: 10 June 1974
Government offices
Preceded by
The Lord Gowrie
Governor-General of Australia
Succeeded by
Sir William McKell
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught
and Strathearn
Great Master of the Order of the Bath
Succeeded by
Charles, Prince of Wales
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Duke of Gloucester
5th creation, 1st Duke
Succeeded by
Prince Richard