The Heir And The Spare Who Became King.


Here we have two brothers firstly Prince George of Wales (who would later become King George V) and his elder brother Prince Albert Victor of Wales, Duke of Clarence and Avondale.

Seventeen months older than George Albert Victor or Eddy as he was nicknamed among his family was the third in line to the throne at his birth and indeed throughout his life, which as he died in 1892 at the age of twenty eight it was a short one.

Both brothers began in the Royal Navy at the tender age of twelve both serving as cadets on board HMS Britannia at Dartmouth in Devonshire, in 1883 after a visit to Japan they returned to England where Queen Victoria complained that her Grandsons could speak neither French nor German so they spent six months in Lausanne in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to learn another language. After Lausanne, the brothers were separated; Albert Victor attended Trinity College, Cambridge, while George continued in the Royal Navy. He travelled the world, visiting many areas of the British Empire. During his naval career he commanded Torpedo Boat 79 in home waters then HMS Thrush on the North America station, before his last active service in command of HMS Melampus in 1891–92. From then on, his naval rank was largely honorary.

Albert Victor attended Trinity College, Cambridge. At Bachelor’s Cottage, Sandringham, Albert Victor was expected to cram before arriving at university in the company of Dalton, French instructor Monsieur Hua, and a newly chosen tutor/companion James Kenneth Stephen. Some biographers have said that Stephen was a misogynist, although this has recently been questioned, and he may have felt emotionally attached to Albert Victor, but whether or not his feelings were overtly homosexual is open to question. Stephen was initially optimistic about tutoring the prince, but by the time the party were to move to Cambridge had concluded, “I do not think he can possibly derive much benefit from attending lectures at Cambridge … He hardly knows the meaning of the words to read”.

One of Albert Victor’s instructors said he learnt by listening rather than reading or writing and had no difficulty remembering information, but Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, had a less favourable opinion of him, calling him “an inveterate and incurable dawdler”. Princess Augusta of Cambridge was also dismissive, calling him: “si peu de chose”.

Both were engaged to the intelligent and level headed, shy young Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, the daughter of Queen Victoria’s first cousin Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge and her German husband Franz, Duke of Teck.

With Albert Victors death in January 1892 this left the question with George now as their would he also have Mary as his fiance.

Queen Victoria still regarded Princess May as a suitable match for her grandson, and George and May grew close during their shared period of mourning. A year after Albert Victor’s death, George proposed to May and was accepted. They married on 6 July 1893 at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, London. Throughout their lives, they remained devoted to each other. George was, on his own admission, unable to express his feelings easily in speech, but they often exchanged loving letters and notes of endearment.


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