These are two small islands to the south of South Africa in the Indian Ocean. They were discovered by the Dutch by accident. They were visited by the French explorer du Fresne and later by Captain Cook who first thought that they might be proof of the Southern continent that they were convinced lay somewhere around the islands. It was Captain Cook who gave the name Prince Edward Islands after the fourth son of King George III. Neither of the two explorers was able to land on the islands.
They were a rocky outcrop and difficult to land on. Sealers did land there in the nineteenth century whilst hunting their quarry to collect seal oil. Sealers of different nationalities including American, French and British exploited the Islands and setting up primitive huts. Sealing would still continue until the 1930s by which time the numbers had declined too much to make it commercially viable enough.
In 1908 the British Government granted a guano license to William Newton for a period of twenty one years.
The South African Government took official possession of them in 1947 with the idea of establishing a meteorological station there. It still stands there today.