Prince George – The Forgotten Royal

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Who was Prince George?

Prince George was a member of the British royal family but his name is little-known today. He was a good looking prince – he was rather dashing and loved fast airplanes, fast cars and, as you might imagine, fast women too. There are still stories coming to light about his life – we may still find out more about this somewhat mysterious character.

Prince George

His life was a short one and we were left with three mysteries. They were:

  • The story of his illegitimate child
  • The persistent rumour that he was intended to be king
  • The mystery of his strange death

We’ll take these one by one.

The illegitimate child

Prince George 2Prince George was the fourth son of the family. This meant that at best, he was fourth in line to the throne. So he had few responsibilities and was free to enjoy himself more than his older brothers. He was a good looking man with a positive and charming attitude. He made the most of his advantages in life. Who wouldn’t?

In those days, celebrities and royalty were free from the intrusions of the press. It was perfectly possible for high profile people such as Prince George to have affairs without them becoming public knowledge. The media was more respectful in those times.

Nevertheless, historians are in no doubt that the prince had an affair with an American socialite – an American cousin of Gloria Vanderbilt – even though it was known only by  a few insiders at the time.  She was the rather scandalous KikiPreston. The historians are also certain that the prince had an illegitimate son.

But who was the mother? For many years it was believed that Kiki Preston had the prince’s child but evidence came to light about another woman in the prince’s life, Violet Evans. The prince had met her through her brother.

It was in 1926 that she discovered that she was expecting the prince’s child. One of Prince George’s friends – a long time admirer of Violet’s – said that he would marry her to save her reputation on the condition that the child she was expecting was adopted. His name was Ian Karslake. Violet agreed and when the baby was born he was duly adopted by a rich American couple. The couple were then living in England and the baby took their surname – the Prince’s illegitimate child became Michael Canfield.

The couple and their newly adopted child sailed for the States. They had not though, at that time,procured a passport for their new child so he was described on the ship’s log as ‘Anthony Karslake’, this being, of course, Violet’s new married surname.

It’s thought that Violet and Ian were paid handsomely to keep the secret of the prince’s son’s birth. They lived a suddenly luxurious life, spending most of their time abroad and safely out of the way of English gossip and speculation.

Michael Canfield

Prince George 3As Michael grew up, he was told that he was adopted. But the Canfields never told him who his real parents were. He  lived his life in exalted circles and married a Bouvier – the sister of Jacqueline who would become Jackie Kennedy. When the Kennedys married, Michael was an usher at their wedding.

Later he lived in the UK and it was frequently noticed that in looks he was remarkably similar to the prince.Inevitably, the rumours were rekindled.

When he married his second wife, she .was sure that she knew about Michael’s true paternity. She was  Laura, the Duchess of Marlborough. And who told her this? It was George’s own brother, the Duke of Windsor – formerly King Edward VIII.

Michael died when he was only forty three. In 1969, he was found to be dead on a commercial aircraft flying between the United States and England.

Will the world ever know the true facts about Michael Canfield’s parentage?

Kiki Preston, who was originally thought to be his mother, threw herself out of the window of a highrise building in 1946 without leaving any details or diaries. Violet, who historians believe was his birth mother also took her own life five years later.

Should  George have been king?

George’s father, King George V died in 1936, the government was concerned about the next in line to the throne – Edward. They knew that Edward was having a long standing affair with American Wallis Simpson and refused to give her up. This was most unsuitable. But there was worse news.

Prince George 5

Prince George 6Government officials and the rulers of the country knew that war with Germany was inevitable. They also knew that Edward – and Mrs Simpson – were Nazi sympathisers. Both believed him to be an ideal leader. Edward even believed that their regime would be a good role model for the UK and he was actively working to avoid war.

For the British ruling powers, this was an unthinkable situation. But when Edward became king, they found that Wallis Simpson was actually a blessing in disguise for the king decided to abdicate so that he could marry her. This meant that the throne would go to his younger brother, Albert.

This, as far as the government could see, was hardly an improvement. Albert was a weak man. He loved nothing more than living in the country with his wife and two little girls. He was shy and reclusive but even more importantly, he had a serious stammer and the rulers believed that England needed a strong king who was a powerful orator to lead and motivate the country during the inevitable war.

Edward had been a popular, though unsuitable king. The government believed that Albert could mean the end of the monarchy – just as war was on the horizon. The public surely wouldn’t warm to this ordinary, shy man.

The fact that Albert only had daughters was yet another obstacle. In those days, a king should have male heirs. The government looked at the next brother in line, Prince Henry. He was an eminently respectable man but had been married for quite some years and had no children – he may never have a male heir. So now they considered the late kings fourth son, George. George was ideal. Handsome, charming and full of personality he had married a European princess and the couple already had a son and daughter.

Prince George 7Had George become king, the present monarch would be George’s son Edward, seen on the right.


He also had two children, the eldest being a boy. Had George become king, Britain’s present monarch would be that son, Edward, the present Duke of Kent, pictured on the right.

The mothers of the potential kings, Queen Mary, was a strong minded woman of German extraction. She managed to persuade her second son Albert that he must follow the royal protocol and accept the throne – it was his duty. She was a firm believer in succession and thought that this shilly-shallying – selecting kings rather than accepting the natural order – was bad for the monarchy. With her urging, Albert accepted his role and as King George VI became a respected king.

The strange death of Prince George

George had been born in 1902 so was growing up when airplanes were being developed. He firmly believed in their value for commerce and for war. So when the Second World War began, he became a group captain in the Royal Air Force. It’s said that as a royal, he wasn’t sent on dangerous missions but this might not be the case,

It was in 1942 that he was in an aircraft – it was a flying boat – that crashed into a Scottish hillside. Everyone on board, including the prince who was thirty nine, was killed – apart from one man.

Consider these points:

  • When the prince’s body was found, handcuffed to his wrist was a briefcase stuffed with money. It’s said that these were Icelandic currency
  • Almost always, flying boats travelled only over water. There was no explanation for the fact that it had been inland and flying over the Scottish hills
  • The plane had been in the air for almost an hour. But it was only twenty minutes away from its point of departure. Why?
  • It has been suggested that this was not an accident. All the crew members were very experienced and yet the plane was badly off course
  • Records show that there were fifteen people who boarded the plane. As expected, fifteen bodies were found in the wreckage. Then, they found that the tail of the aircraft had been torn off and its only occupant, the rear gunner, had survived. So who was the extra person on board?
  • When that survivor was conscious and recovering in hospital he was made to sign the Official Secrets Act
  • Some of the people on board had told their relatives that they were going on a secret mission. What was that?
  • Official documents relating to the accident – and to the flight- disappeared.

Prince George 5

Family tree – the sons

Prince George 9


Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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