Queen Victoria and Her Father, the Duke of Kent
Commonly called “the grandmother of Europe”, Queen Victoria was born to the Duke and Duchess of Kent on May 24, 1819. With a reign stretching for more than 60 years, quite a lot have been said about Queen Victoria and the achievements that she attained; however, very little light is cast in the way of Queen Victoria’s father, the Duke of Kent and Strathearn.
Who was the father of Queen Victoria? And what influence did he have on Britain’s second-longest reigning monarch?
Here is everything that you need to know about Queen Victoria’s father, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and Stratehearn.
Queen Victoria’s Father: Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and Strathearn
Born in Buckingham Palace, London, on November 2, 1767, Prince Edward was the fourth son of his parents – George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
As at the time of his birth, Prince Edward was the fourth in line of succession to the English throne. He was behind older brothers – Prince George (later George IV), Prince Frederick, the Duke of York; and Prince William, the Duke of Clarence (William IV).
It is interesting to note that Prince Edward was born a couple of months before his paternal uncle Prince Edward, Duke of York and Albany. As a matter of fact the young prince was named after that uncle of his.
Education and Military Training
As it was common back then, Prince Edward was home-schooled by Rev. John Fisher. Tutored by Fisher – who later became the Bishop of Exeter and Bishop of Salisbury – the young prince studied diligently from 1780 to 1785.
His father, George III, never liked being around him; hence, Edward often found himself being sent abroad to either school or for a military training.
Shortly after education and military training spells in Lüneburg and Hanover,Germany, Queen Victoria’s father proceeded to join the Hanoverian Guards. A year into his service, Edward attained the rank of colonel in the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers). He was 21 years old at the time. At the age of 23, his father George III posted him to Gibraltar. This was before he had unceremoniously abandoned his post with the Royal Fusiliers and disgracefully returned home.
Prince Edward’s Numerous Mistresses
Edward and his mistress Adelaide Dubus met during his time in Geneva. the two went on to have a child together. Unfortunately, Adelaide died while giving birth to the child. Prince Edward made sure that this illegitimate issue of his was well taken care off for the rest of her life.
Around that same period, there were rumors of him fathering another child, Edward Schencker Scheener. The mother’s name was Anne Gabrielle Alexandrine Moré. Also, whiile in Gibraltar, Edward began a romantic relationship with Madame de Saint-Laurent from Marseilles. Their relationship lasted for close to three decades, until he got married in 1818.
Time in Quebec, Canada
From 1791 to 1798, Queen Victoria’s father was predominantly stationed in Quebec, Canada. Along with his companion and mistress, Julie St. Laurent, Edward toured the upper parts of Canada.
In April, 1793, Edward became a major-general, commanding British forces in Canada. A few months prior, the title of Duke of Kent and Strathearn had been created for him. As commander, he had reasonably good campaigns in the West Indies.
Additionally, Prince Edward is considered by many as one of the first people to use the word “Canada” to refer to both French and English communities in Canada. While in Canada, the prince was invested heavily in several socio-economic projects in the country. He built the Garrison Clock in Halifax. In his later years in Canada, Prince Edward, following the counsel of Jonathan Sewell, supported the idea to unite British territories in North America under a federal system.
Governor-General of Gibraltar
In 1802, his father appointed him Governor-General of Gibraltar. While in that post, Edward was known for his unconventional disciplinary techniques. For example he prohibited drinking on Christmas days. His actions caused so much outrage among the soldiers that they mutinied in December 1802. As result of the mutiny, a number of deaths were recorded. Following this, George III recalled Edward to England. This recall effectively marked the end of his military career. He did however get promoted to the rank of Field Marshal in 1805.
Edward and the British Royal family were rocked by the death of Princess Charlotte of Wales in November 1817. Charlotte was George III’s only legitimate grandchild. And as a result of Charlotte’s death, the sons of George III were forced to get their acts in order to keep the family line of succession going. They did this by quickly getting married.
The Birth of Queen Victoria
In 1818, Edward married a Saxe-Coburg princess by name Princess Victoria. Victoria was a widowed 32-year-old and the daughter of Franz Friedrich, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Saalfeld. She had two children from her first marriage to Prince Emich Carl of Leiningen.
The wedding between Victoria of Saxe-Coburg and Saalfeld and Prince Edward took place at Schloss Ehrenburg, Coburg on May 29, 1818. On July 11, 1818, a second wedding ceremony was held for the couple. Prince Edward and his wife Princess Victoria made the Kensington Palace their private residence. About a year later, the couple had a child – Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) – born on May 24, 1819.
How did Queen Victoria’s Father die?
In January, 1820, Prince Edward caught pneumonia while in his Woolbrook Cottage along the English Channel. Over the coming days, his illness got worse and worse, until he gave up the ghost on January 23, 1820. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, was buried in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
His daughter, Princess Victoria (future Queen Victoria), was less than a year at the time of his death. That same month, his father, George III also died.
There were rumors that Prince Edward may have sired an illegitimate daughter during his tour in Quebec, Canada.
Additionally, Prince Edward had a bad reputation of womanizing and spending lavishly. His parting gift to his baby daughter Princess Victoria was a massive debt – a debt that Queen Victoria had to pay off when she became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland in June 1837.
Influence and Legacy of Queen Victoria’s Father
Although Queen Victoria never had the chance to get to know her father, she was very much fond of his name and the things that he left behind. Queen Victoria mentioned his name about 77 times in her journal.
In 1890, she even celebrated the anniversary of his death. Growing up, Queen Victoria longed for a fatherly figure in her life. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent, had proved on a consistent basis that she could not offer the things that Victoria needed to become a strong and independent monarch. This forced her to rely on her maternal uncle, Leopold I, King of the Belgians.
To show you just how much Queen Victoria loved the legacy of her father, in 1859, she bought a full-length portrait of her father for £120. The portrait survives to this day. It can be found at Buckingham Palace. There is also a marble bust of Queen Victoria’s father at St. George’s Hall, Windsor Castle.