HRH The Duke of Kent has been at the heart of the British Royal Family throughout his life. As a working member of the Royal Family, he has supported his cousin, The Queen, representing her at home and abroad. His royal duties began when, in 1952, at the age of sixteen, he walked in the procession behind King George VI’s coffin, later paying homage to The Queen at her Coronation in 1953. Since then he has witnessed and participated in key Royal occasions. He represented The Queen at independence ceremonies from the age of twenty-five, he was riding with her when blanks were fired at Trooping the Colour in 1981, he was the oldest soldier on parade at Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph in November 2020 and he was alongside The Queen at her official birthday celebrations in June 2021 as Colonel of the Scots Guards.
No member of the Royal Family has spoken extensively of the modern reign and their part in it before. A Royal Life is a unique account based on a series of conversations between the Duke and acclaimed Royal historian Hugo Vickers. It covers some of the most important moments and experiences of the Duke’s life, from his upbringing at his family home Coppins in Buckinghamshire, his twenty-one years of army life, his royal tours and events, through to his work for over 140 different organisations, including presenting the trophies at Wimbledon for more than 50 years. Here too are recollections of family members including his mother, Princess Marina, his grandmother, Queen Mary, his cousin, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and his uncle, King George VI.
A Royal Life (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (Audible)
In keeping with my reading or listening to everything regarding the royal family, I tackled the current Duke of Kent’s memoir, which was published late last year. I only knew a little bit about his parents, Prince George and Princess Marina, and I had seen the Duke of Kent with Queen Elizabeth on the balcony during Trooping the Color after the Duke of Edinburgh retired. A cousin to both queen and the prince, he’s been a loyal and dutiful cousin and Duke.
And that’s the overall theme of the book. A sense of duty to the monarchy and his family. The Duke of Kent has literally had a lifetime to learn his role since his father’s death during World War II, making him the duke at the age of 7.
The book is a series of interviews with Hugo Vickers that took place during the pandemic in series of emails and Zoom calls. What results is series of short stories or anecdotes that collectively tell the story of the Duke’s life, with some time spent at the beginning of the book going over his royal pedigree. I have to admit that I’m not a fan of the way the book was laid out, although the content is interesting.
Prince Edward spent about twenty years in the military, and he proudly shares some stories of his time served. He travelled the world in both military and royal capacities for years, in support and promoting the monarchy. He had some misadventures when he was a teen and young adult, mostly with cars, for which he is passionate about.
The Duke of Kent, until recent years, was the patron of Wimbledon on behalf of the Queen, and while he doesn’t talk about it a lot, he does mention one particular year which he thought was the best tennis he had ever seen played.
Overall, a good book that got my royal fix!
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