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Sunday, February 1, 2015

The mysterious death of Prince George, Duke of Kent

This is included in my upcoming royal book: Tragedies in the Royal Court under the "Tragic Death" section.

This is the long-forgotten story of the death of Prince George, Duke of Kent,  the first British Prince to die in 400 years while on active military service.

The circumstances of his death from the plane crash on a sunny weather still puzzle royalists. No accurate details were given and explanations seemed remote. What really happened on the 25th day of August in 1942 during World War II when the Prince was headed to a special mission in Iceland? Was there a cover-up, a conspiracy theory surrounding his death?

Answers to these questions were never given and the incident was concluded as pure accident and nothing else, but considering the events were never fully explained, people could not help but think if there was a cover up.

His Royal Highness, Prince George, the Duke of Kent was 6th in line of succession to the British throne at the time of his death. He was a group captain in the Royal Air Force and became an Air Vice-Marshal shortly before World War II broke out in 1939.

He was the youngest son of King George V and Queen Mary and a younger brother of both King Edward VIII and King George VI. He was married to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, first cousin of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and had three children, Prince Edward, Princess Alexandra and Prince Michael. At the time of his death, his wife had just given birth to their youngest child, Prince Michael.

His untimely death from a plane crash in 1942 raised speculations on a conspiracy theory due to several misleading information provided to the public. The circumstances of his death and details on why the plane had crashed despite the sunny weather were never fully explained.

Prince George was scheduled to visit the Royal Air Force personnel stationed in Iceland during World War II and because the flight would be carrying a British prince and 6th in line of succession to the British throne, the crew and companions were carefully selected.

The captain, Flight Lieutenant Frank Goyen, was considered an expert to fly a military boat bomber. The co-pilot was the commanding officer of 228 Squadron, Wing Commander, Thomas Lawton Mosley, one of the RAF’s most experienced pilots. Accompanying the prince were his private secretary, equerry and valet.

On August 25, 1942, they boarded RAF S-25 Sunderland MK III flying boat bomber which took off from Invergordon, Scotland but moment after it went up on air, it exploded and crashed on the hillside of Caithness, Scotland.

When the investigation began, the incident raised many questions. Why the pilot maneuvered the plane over the land when it was a flying boat bomber that supposed to fly over the water? Why did the pilot descend to some 650 feet when he was flying over high land?

When the investigators reached the crash site, 14 bodies were recovered including the Duke of Kent, on his position was a suitcase strapped in his wrist containing hundred kroner notes, no explanation could support this circumstance why the Duke carried notes not valid to his country of destination, Iceland. Kroner is the currency of Sweden.

The only survivor in the tragedy was Andy Jack, the tail gunner who occupied the tail end of the craft and was separated from the group when it blew off and flung to the other side of the hillside.

Jack’s response to the tragedy brought a confusing angle. He had never spoken about the tragedy because he was under oath not to speak. He was also promoted despite the tragedy. Whether he told a confidential retelling of events to the British royal family or to the Duke’s widow, Princess Marina, no one can tell. The story of the Duke of Kent’s death rested in peace and no one ever attempted to reopen it.

Seventy two years later after the incident, the death of Prince George still confusing to the consciousness of the public. The only explanation established at the time of his death was that the Prince was heading to a special mission in Iceland, a special mission that no one seemed ready to explain. It was a surprising circumstance that only Princess Marina got interest to pursue an investigation considering it was the death of a British royal prince and a military officer.

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