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HRH The Duke of Kent: A Life of Service

Main Author:  Celia Lee
Co-author:  John Lee
Portrait:  Barbara K. Hamilton
Contents: HRH THE DUKE OF KENT A Life Of Service

His Royal Highness Prince Edward The Duke of Kent KG GCMG GCVO ADC(P), first cousin to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, has devoted his life to the service of his country. Even before he served twenty-one years as a regular soldier in the British Army, he was introduced to this life of service by his widowed mother, HRH Princess Marina, The Duchess of Kent, during an extensive tour of the Far East at the time of his seventeenth birthday.

His interest in modern technology, especially computing and engineering, in issues of health, fitness and social welfare, and in the development of the intellect, has seen him become the patron, president or active member of more than one hundred charities and social organisations.

His military service, and deep interest in military history, sees him making a particularly important contribution to many military-related organisations – the chief of which must be the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

At the time of his eightieth birthday on October 9, 2015, Prince Edward remains one of the busiest members of the royal family. This book is offered as a tribute to his life of service, and to the myriad organisations, large and small, local, national and international, that make up the fabric of the United Kingdom in the twenty-first century.

Sunday Express article written by Celia Lee about The Duke of Kent’s 80th birthday can be found here.

Portrait of HRH The Duke Of Kent KG by Barbara K. Hamilton, Polish Hearth Club, London.

Left to right: John Lee, Barbara K. Hamilton, and Celia Lee, posing under Barbara’s portrait of HRH The Duke Of Kent KG, on the evening of the launch (November 2015), at the Polish Hearth Club, South Kensington, of the book: HRH THE DUKE OF KENT A Life Of Service, pub.  Seymour Books, September 2015.



Left:  Celia Lee and HRH Katharine Duchess of Kent, enjoying a Holloween party, 31st October 2018

HRH The Duke of Kent – A Life of Service – Reviewed by Major Gordon Corrigan MBE

When in 1760 King George III handed over the income from the crown lands to the government in exchange for an annual grant to support the royal family, the ‘civil list’, it was the shrewdest property deal since the Dutch bought Manhattan Island for sixty guilders, for then and now the income from the crown lands far exceeds the cost of supporting the monarchy.  When in the 1860s Queen Victoria withdrew from public life in mourning for her husband Prince Albert, there was a short-lived upsurge of republicanism.   There may be some in England today who espouse republicanism, but you would have to look very hard to find them, and one of the reasons that we live as loyal subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors, is amply explained in this book, appropriately subtitled A Life Of Service.   Most of us would be aware that His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Kent KG, GCMG, GCVO, ADC(P) was a professional soldier.  The entry requirements for the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst are no respecters of status, applicants under test being known only by a randomly allocated number, while once at the Academy all cadets are treated and assessed equally, regardless of breeding.  HRH served for twenty-one years in the Royal Scots Greys now the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards but, with royal duties increasingly requiring his attention, he retired from the Army in the rank of lieutenant colonel. Those who served with him are strongly of the opinion that had he been able to stay he would have gone on to reach general’s rank entirely on merit.   Knowing that the Duke was first a soldier, most of us would also recall his presenting the prizes at Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, and his active involvement with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, including his presence at the dedication of the very first Cross of Sacrifice in the Republic of Ireland in July 2014, a milestone in the establishment of normal and friendly relations with that nation.  The casual observer might however be forgiven for failing to be aware of the Duke’s Vice Chairmanship of the British Overseas Trade Board, or his Presidency of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, his patronage of the Aidis Trust, the aim of which is to improve independence for disabled people, or his active membership of the PG Wodehouse Society and the Noël Coward Society.  Again, they might not know that the Duke is a qualified French interpreter.  After reading this magisterial work, however, there can be no excuse for ignorance, for the Duke’s astonishing and unpaid workload is laid out in fascinating detail here.  His involvement in charities, education, business, music, sport, military units and organisations and soft diplomacy overseas, is all here, along with much more.  Should anyone ever wish to write a narrative biography of the Duke they will find that this book has done most of their work for them.  The authors, already well known in the fields of social and military history, have done a great service by tabulating exactly what one member of the royal family does, mostly out of the public gaze and often unsung.  It has truly been, and continues to be, a life of service to the nation and the Commonwealth.   

Available in hardcopy paperback and HRH The Duke of Kent: A Life of ServiceKindle edition.

Review by Laura Rainbow, pub. LIFEBOAT RNLI