Field Marshal HRH Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent KG GCB

Edward Augustus was the 4th son of George III and styled Prince Edward from birth. He trained to be an officer and was tutored by the strict Baron Wangenheim in Germany. In 1789 he was appointed Colonel to the Royal Fusiliers. Under Wangenheim's influence Edward was himself a stern disciplinarian but he had the interests of the regiment at heart and worked hard to make it an efficient unit. He recommended no less than 8 NCOs for commissions, and it was generally regarded that at the end of his colonelcy he had laid the foundations of competence and discipline on which the regiment built so successfully in the Peninsular war.

In 1791 he was sent to Canada and witnessed the Constitutional Act in Quebec on 26th Dec 1791 which admitted the United Empire Loyalists from the US, and established Upper and Lower Canada. Prince Edward's association with Canada was an important one and he has since been referred to as the Father of the Canadian Crown. He had a mistress there, Julie St Laurent who apparently bore him no children although there are Canadian families that claim descent from the couple. Edward toured Upper Canada and befriended Charles de Salaberry who gained distinction against the American advance on Montreal in 1812. In 1794 he travelled on foot from Lower Canada to Boston. During the late 1790s he lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was instrumental in building the military defences there to protect the Royal Navy.

He was appointed Governor of Gibraltar on 23rd Mar 1802, and it was here that his reputation as a severe disciplinarian brought him trouble. He was unpopular with the men of his former regiment while they were in Gibraltar, usually a relaxed posting. His regime became so hard for the men of the Fusiliers, and the 25th Foot, that they mutinied on Christmas Eve 1802. When the Duke of York, the C-in-C, received reports of this he was ordered home, but Edward refused to leave until his replacement arrived. He eventually returned to England and was not allowed to go back to Gibraltar. However, although he never returned he held the post until his death in 1820.

The problem of succession to the throne of Great Britain was a huge worry after the death of Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales in 1817 and it became clear that Edward, now Duke of Kent, should marry and try for an heir. In 1818, at the age of 50 he married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld who was a widow with two children. A year later they had a daughter who became Queen Victoria in 1837. The Duke died of pneumonia in Sidmouth on 23rd Jan, six days before his father George III. The painting of the Duke of kent was made by George Dawe in 1818.

1767 Born on 2nd Nov
1785 Begins military training in Luneburg and later Geneva
1789 Appointed Colonel of 7th Royal Fusiliers, 9th Apr
1793 Major-General
1799 Created Duke of Kent and Strathearn, and Earl of Dublin, 23rd April
1799 Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in North America
1801 Colonel of 1st Royal Regiment, 21st Aug
1802 Governor of Gibraltar, 23rd Mar
1805 Field Marshal, 3rd Sep
1818 Marries Princess Victoria, 29th May
1819 Birth of Queen Victoria, 24th May
1820 Duke dies on 23rd Jan.

Regimental Details | Colonels

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by Stephen Luscombe