Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester,
Title: 11th Governor General of Australia
Term of Office: 30 January 1945 - 11 March 1947
Predecessor: The Lord Gowrie
Successor: Sir William McKell
Birth: 31 March 1900, Sandringham, Norfolk, England
Death: 10 June 1974

The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (Henry William Frederick Albert), (31 March 190010 June 1974) was a member of the British Royal Family, the third son of King George V of the United Kingdom and Queen Mary.

The Duke served as Governor-General of Australia from 1945 to 1947.


Prince Henry was born on March 31, 1900 at York Cottage, on the Sandringham Estate. His father was Prince George, Duke of York (later King George V), the second eldest son of Prince Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). His mother was The Duchess of York (later Queen Mary), the eldest daughter of The Duke and Duchess of Teck. In 1898, Queen Victoria had granted letters patent granting the children of the Duke and Duchess of York the style Royal Highness. Thus he was styled His Royal Highness Prince Henry of York from birth.

He was baptised at the Private Chapel of Windsor Castle on May 17, 1900 by Randall Thomas Davidson, Bishop of Winchester and his godparents were Queen Victoria, the German Emperor, Princess Henry of Battenberg, the Duchess of Cumberland, Princess Carl of Denmark, Prince George of Greece, Prince Alexander of Teck and the Earl Roberts.

Military service

Unlike his brothers, Prince Henry joined the Army instead of the Royal Navy. He attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1919. He later served with The King's Royal Rifle Corps and the 10th Royal Hussars before retiring from active service in 1937. Following the outbreak of World War II, he rejoined the Forces, serving as a Chief Liaison Officer. He was appointed a Field Marshal in 1955 and a Marshal of the Royal Air Force in 1958.

Duke of Gloucester

British Royalty
House of Windsor

George V
   Edward VIII
   George VI
   Mary, Princess Royal
   Henry, Duke of Gloucester
   George, Duke of Kent
   Prince John
   Elizabeth II
   Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
   William of Gloucester
   Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
   Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
   Prince Michael of Kent
   Princess Alexandra of Kent
Edward VIII
George VI
   Elizabeth II
   Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
Elizabeth II
   Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
   Princess Anne, Princess Royal
   Prince Andrew, Duke of York
   Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
   Prince William of Wales
   Prince Henry of Wales
   Princess Beatrice of York
   Princess Eugenie of York
   Lady Louise Windsor

In 1928, his father, by now King, created him Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, and Baron Culloden, three titles that linked him with three of the four parts of the United Kingdom, namely England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. On November 2, 1930 he attended the coronation of Haile Selassie of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. In 1934, with the agreement of the Irish President of the Executive Council, Eamon de Valera, King George V as King of Ireland made him a Knight of St Patrick (KP), Ireland's chivalric order. It was the last time this order was awarded.


On November 6, 1935, Henry married Lady Alice Christabel Montagu-Douglas-Scott, a daughter of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. The marriage was originally planned to take place at Westminster Abbey, but was moved the more low key Chapel Royal at St James's Palace due to the death of Lady Alice's father in the immediately preceding weeks.

Following their wedding, Alice was known as HRH The Duchess of Gloucester. Together they had two sons:

Governor-General of Australia

In late 1944 The Duke of Gloucester was unexpectedly appointed Governor-General of Australia. The Labor Party of the Prime Minister, John Curtin, had a policy of appointing Australians to the vice-regal post. But in the circumstances of wartime Curtin decided that appointing a member of the Royal Family would have two advantages. It would improve the likelihood that Britain would maintain its commitment to the defence of Australia, and make the point that Australia had not become a dependency of the United States. Curtin also thought that appointing an Australian would cause unnecessary partisan division.

Although Gloucester formed a close friendship with Curtin, the appointment was not an enormous success. The Duke was a man of limited outlook and rigid views. He was shy and appeared stiff and formal to those he didn't know, and did not get on well with many Australians, although the Duchess softened his image somewhat. When Curtin died in 1945 and the war ended, the justification for his appointment lost its relevance, and the new Prime Minister, Ben Chifley, was a less congenial character than Curtin had been. Gloucester left Australia in March 1947, after only two years in the job.

Later life

Returning to the UK, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester acquired Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire, while retaining an apartment in Kensington Palace. The Duke attended the coronation of his niece, Queen Elizabeth in 1953. Both the Duke and Duchess carried out royal engagements, including several overseas tours.

In 1972, the Duke's eldest son, Prince William, died in a plane crash. When the Duke died on June 10, 1974, his second eldest son, Prince Richard inherited the title of Duke of Gloucester. The Duke's wife, Alice, received the permission of Queen Elizabeth II to be styled Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester to distinguish herself from Prince Richard's wife. She survived until 2004, becoming the oldest living member of the British Royal Family in history.

Titles and honours

Titles from birth to death

Here is a list of the titles the Duke of Gloucester bore from birth to death in chronological order:

  • His Royal Highness Prince Henry of York
  • His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Cornwall and York
  • His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales
  • His Royal Highness The Prince Henry
  • His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester


Preceded by:
New Creation
Duke of Gloucester
Succeeded by:
HRH Prince Richard
Preceded by:
The Lord Gowrie
Governor-General of Australia
Succeeded by:
Sir William McKell
Preceded by:
The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
Great Master of the
Order of the Bath

Succeeded by:
The Prince of Wales

Governors-General of Australia
Hopetoun | Tennyson | Northcote | Dudley | Denman | Munro-Ferguson | Forster | Stonehaven | Isaacs | Gowrie | Gloucester | McKell
Slim | Dunrossil | De L'Isle | Casey | Hasluck | Kerr | Cowen | Stephen | Hayden | Deane | Hollingworth | Jeffery

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