Earls and Marquesses of Kent
The dignity of Kent has a long history going back to the first Earl of Kent Odo of Bayeux, half brother of William the Conqueror and later held by representatives of the de Ypres, de Burgh, Plantagenet, Holland and Neville families. It was subsequently awarded to Edmund Grey the 4th Lord Grey of Ruthin, as reward for a particularly notorious piece of duplicity during the battle of Northampton in 1460.
The title of Earl of Kent remained within the Grey family for the next 250 years until the time of Henry Grey the 12th Earl. Although he was promoted to the title of Marquess of Kent in 1706 and then four years later became the very first Duke of Kent in 1710, all of his sons predeceased him. With his death in June 1740, his titles of earl, marquess and duke of Kent all became extinct.
The first royal Dukedom of Kent was conferred on Edward Augustus Hanover otherwise known as Prince Edward the fourth son of king George III in 1799. (He was also made Duke of Strathearn and Earl of Dublin at the same time). An active Freemason together with his brother, Augustus Frederick Hanover, Duke of Sussex he succeeded brother in bringing together the rival lodges of Ancient and Modern freemasons and creating the United Grand Lodge of Freemasons of England.
He was secretly married to a Madame de St Laurent, Baronne de Fortisson in 1791 but with the death of the Princess Charlotte in 1817 (being George IV's only legitimate child), pressure was brought to bear on him to make a proper dynastic marriage. It was therefore not until 1818, when he was fifty years old that Edward married Victoria Maria Louisa, the youngest daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg.
The marriage produced one daughter, Princess Alexandrina Victoria, born on the 24th May 1819, before Edward himself died at Sidmouth on the 23rd of January 1820. Without male issue, his various titles expired with his death. However his daughter, the Princess Alexandrina Victoria went on to become queen Victoria.
Later queen Victoria created her second son, Alfred Ernest Saxe-Coburg-Gotha as Duke of Edinburgh in 1866, and also granted him the subsidiary title of Earl of Kent. Alfred however died of cancer in 1900, and his only son having predeceased him, his various titles became extinct and reverted to the crown.
The title was next conferred by king George V on his younger son
George Edward Windsor in 1934. He married Princess Marina of Greece, and was killed on the 25th August 1942 in an air crash in Scotland whilst on active service during World War II.
He was succeeded by his seven year old son Edward George Windsor who is the current Duke of Kent. Edward George entered the Royal Military College at Sandhurst after school, and after graduating in 1955 as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Greys, served in the army until his retirement in 1976 with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He has since served as the Vice-Chairman of British Trade International, is Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Freemasons of England, President of the Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and President-in-Chief of the British Racing Drivers' Club.
He is likely to be succeeded in due course by his eldest son George Philip Windsor, who bears the courtesy title of the Earl of St Andrews.
THE DUKES OF KENT
As Earl of Kent
- A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain at www.thepeerage.com
- HRH The Duke of Kent at
- HRH The Duke of Kent at
- The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for
KENT, EARLS AND DUKES OF
- THE ENGLISH PEERAGE or, a view of the ANCIENT and PRESENT STATE of the ENGLISH NOBILITY London: (1790) see