Prince John of the United Kingdom
|Prince John of the United Kingdom|
|Prince John in 1913|
|John Charles Francis|
|House||House of Windsor
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
|Mother||Mary of Teck|
12 July 1905|
York Cottage, Sandringham
|Died||18 January 1919
Wood Farm, Sandringham
|Burial||21 January 1919
St Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham
|House of Windsor|
The Prince John (John Charles Francis; 12 July 1905 – 18 January 1919) was a member of the British Royal Family, the youngest son of King George V and Queen Mary. The Prince had epilepsy and consequently was largely hidden from the public eye.
Prince John was born at York Cottage, on the Sandringham Estate, Norfolk, England. His father was Prince George, then Prince of Wales (later King George V), the eldest living son of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. His mother was Mary, Princess of Wales (later Queen Mary), the eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Teck. At the time of his birth, he was sixth in the line of succession.
The Prince was baptised on 3 August 1905 at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham; his godparents were the King of Portugal; the Duke and Duchess of Sparta (his cousins); the Prince Carl of Denmark (his cousin); Princess Alexander of Teck (his cousin); Prince Johann of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (his eponymous great-granduncle); and the Duke of Fife (his uncle). Four of the five godfathers (the Duke of Sparta excluded) were represented by the Prince's father the Prince of Wales, while his aunt Princess Victoria stood proxy for both godmothers.
Prince John had his first epileptic seizure at age four. He did not attend his father's coronation on 22 June 1911.
Life at Wood Farm
At age 12, his condition having deteriorated, he was settled in a household of his own at Wood Farm on the Sandringham Estate, with a cook, a live-in maid, and his nanny Charlotte Bill (known in the family as 'Lalla'). Thomas Haverly, a coachman from Windsor Castle chosen for his reliability, took the Prince on outings in the country or to the sea, and to the 'big house' at Sandringham when other members of the family were there. His tutor was Henry Peter Hansell (1863–1935).
John's toys at Wood Farm included a pedal car and a ride-on train; photos show him riding a bicycle and a horse without assistance. A plot was set aside as 'Prince John's garden', with gardeners to help him tend it.
He also had the companionship of Winifred Thomas, a Yorkshire girl about his age whose asthma had caused her to be sent to the country to live with her uncle, who was the riding master[clarification needed] at Sandringham. Winifred's delicacy probably recommended her to the Queen and Lalla as a companion for John; with their encouragement she visited the Prince almost every day. Winifred and John went on walks and tended the garden together. When John was ill, Winifred sat by his bed as Lalla read to them.
In later years Winifred recalled John's excitement at seeing First World War zeppelins passing over Sandringham in 1916, his pleasure on meeting 'a real, live soldier' – her father Sergeant Frederick Thomas, who visited that same year – and a bicycle race between Prince John and his cousin Crown Prince Olav of Norway (later King Olav V of Norway).
After his thirteenth birthday John's seizures grew in frequency and severity; nonetheless his sudden death was unexpected. In the early hours of 18 January 1919 (the Queen told her diary):
Lalla Bill telephoned from Wood Farm, Wolferton, that our poor darling Johnnie had died suddenly after one of his attacks. The news gave me a great shock, though for the little boy's restless soul, death came as a great release. I brought the news to George and we motored down to Wood Farm. Found poor Lalla very resigned but heartbroken. Little Johnnie looked very peaceful lying there… For him it is a great release as his malady was becoming worse as he grew older and he has thus been spared much suffering. I cannot say how grateful we feel to God for having taken him in such a peaceful way, he just slept quietly… no pain, no struggle, just peace for the poor little troubled spirit, which had been a great anxiety for us for many years ever since he was four.
After Prince John's burial on 21 January 1919 at Sandringham Church (the Church of St Mary Magdalene) the Queen wrote:
Tuesday, January 21st 1919. Canon Dalton and Dr Brownhill conducted the service, which was awfully sad and touching. Many of our own people and the villagers were present. We thanked all Johnnie's servants, who have been so good and faithful to him.' Some days later she added, 'Miss the dear child very much indeed.
The Queen gave Winifred a number of John's books, with the inscription, 'In memory of our dear little Prince.'
John's life (which may have reinforced the apparent avoidance of John as a given name among British royals—see John) was the subject of the two-part television drama The Lost Prince, as well as the Channel 4 documentary Prince John: The Windsors' Tragic Secret.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
- 12 July 1905 – 6 May 1910: His Royal Highness Prince John of Wales
- 6 May 1910 – 18 January 1919: His Royal Highness The Prince John
- ROYALTY DIGEST: A Journal of Record, "REFLECTIONS ON THE 'LOST PRINCE,'" by Charlotte Zeepvat (from Issue no. 141, Volume XII, number 8)
- The Times (London) Weekend, 11 January 1998
- Daily Mail (London), 20 February 1998
- Prince John at Find a Grave
- Prince John by Vere (or Vera) Temple: watercolour over photograph on card, 1909