On This Day: Britain's last Prince George dies in wartime plane crash

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On This Day: Britain's last Prince George dies in wartime plane crash
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AUGUST 25, 1942: Britain’s last Prince George died in a mysterious wartime plane crash on this day in 1942 – sparking claims that he was assassinated due to his alleged Nazi sympathies.

The 39-year-old great great great uncle of the latest George - born last month - perished along with 14 others after an RAF flying boat hit a Scottish hillside.

The married royal, who was titled the Duke of Kent and was the current Queen’s uncle, was a controversial figure who was said to have been a bisexual drug addict.

And, like his eldest brother King Edward VIII, George – the fourth son of King George V - was rumoured to have had Nazi sympathies and be an appeaser.

During Edward’s 326-day reign in 1936, George was reportedly sent as a secret emissary to their German relation Prince Philipp von Hessen, a Nazi go-between.

And when their second oldest brother Bertie became King George VI after the abdication crisis, he is said to have encouraged the duke to carry on this work.

Professor Jonathan Petropoulos, a U.S. historian and author of Royals And The Reich, told the Daily Mail: 'It would appear the King was using royal relationships in an effort to prevent a war, and that the Duke of Kent was a pawn in the appeasement game.'

So, when the duke died, conspiracy theories quickly abounded that the secret services killed him by staging a plane crash to make it look like a tragic wartime accident.

It was also suggested that he might have been secretly flying to Sweden with Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy who had flown to Scotland days earlier, to try to broker peace.

Stephen Prior, who co-wrote Double Standards with Robert Brydon, claims that British secret services found a double for Hess, who was later tried as a war criminal.

And Christopher Warwick, a Royal biographer, told the Daily Express in an article published last year: 'There is a temptation to say there was a cover-up.

'The documents from the court of inquiry investigating the crash do not exist and no one will claim to have them.'

All that is known is that the Short Sunderland plane, which the RAF say had been flying from Invergordon to Iceland, crashed into a hill near Dunbeath in broad sunshine.

An official inquiry ruled that the Australian pilot was to blame.

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But decades later, the family of the only survivor of the crash, Flight Sergeant Andrew Jack, claimed he was silenced for life about the true nature of the tragedy.

His niece Margaret Harris told the BBC in 2003 that the duke, who served as an RAF group captain, was the pilot and a there was a mysterious, unnamed person on board.

Mrs Harris, who claims Sgt Jack only revealed the truth to her father before his death in 1979, said: 'He never, ever mentioned who the person was and he never went into detail of whether it was a man or a woman.

'But he did say it was someone who shouldn't have been on (the plane).'

Yet, in spite of these rumours, George was a very popular member of the Royal Family and his death was widely mourned.

Unlike stammering Bertie, the dashing duke had no trouble with public speaking and attracted big crowds.

He regularly toured the country – as seen in the 1933 British Pathé newsreel filming of him opening a lifeboat station in Shoreham, West Sussex.


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His dazzling 1934 marriage to his second cousin Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark – plus rumours about his colourful private life - also excited the public.

The playboy prince is alleged to have had affairs with singer and playwright Noel Coward, spy Anthony Blunt and romance author Barbara Cartland.

He is also said to have had a weakness for morphine and cocaine after being linked to U.S. socialite Kiki Preston, who was known as the 'girl with the silver syringe'.

Yet he was known to be a uniquely sensitive – notably to the plight of his epileptic youngest brother Prince John, who died at age 13 and was kept from public view.

Following George’s death – six weeks after his wife gave birth to their third child Prince Michael of Kent – his elder son Edward succeeded him as Duke of Kent.

The current duke, who annually presents the trophies to Wimbledon champions, is now aged 77.


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