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British RoyalsHistoryInsight

The personal papers of Queen Victoria’s father now available online

Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, father of Queen Victoria
William Beechey, Public domain, Wikimedia Commons

Through The Royal Collection Trust, the papers of Queen Victoria’s father, Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn are now available online. More than 1,000 documents make up the collection ranging from account records and lesson books to personal and official correspondence.

Prince Edward Augustus was born 2 November 1767 at Buckingham House. The fourth son and fifth child of George III and Queen Charlotte, Edward’s education was initially delivered by his preceptor, John Fisher. Fisher would later become the Bishop of Salisbury, maintaining his friendship with Edward for the rest of his life.

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In 1785, Edward moved to the Electorate of Hanover to continue his studies. Shortly after, he began military training in Lüneburg as a cadet in the Hanoverian Foot Guards. Under the instruction of his tutor, he wrote to his father of his studies which included German, law, artillery, and history.

A year later, Edward became a Knight of the Garter and was appointed Brevet Colonel in the British Army. He then moved to Geneva to finish his education and eventually he met Madame Julie Saint-Laurent (Therese Benard née Mongenet), who would become his longtime mistress. For 27 years, Edward wrote to Julie. Another of his loves, Adelaide Dubus, died while giving birth to a daughter =.

In 1790, after being appointed Colonel of the 7th Regiment of the Foot (Royal Fusiliers), Edward returned home without leave. As a result of his father’s displeasure, Edward was sent to serve in Gibraltar as an ordinary officer. Upon his departure to Quebec City, Edward wrote to George III:

“If my conduct during my residence in the Garrison of Gibraltar has in any ways incurred your Majesty’s displeasure, which I am led to fear by your silence, I am particularly unfortunate, as I have spared no endeavours, & no pains, in striving to merit your approbation…I hope in Canada the most steady perseverance in those Exertions…I so earnestly wish to obtain, your good will & your notice.”

While in Quebec, Edward became the first member of the Royal Family to live in North America. In 1794, a trip to Boston made him the first Prince to visit the United States. That same year, Edward requested a return to England but was refused. Instead, he was sent to the Head Quarters of the Royal Navy in North America, Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Edward left for England in 1800 after his role as Commander-in-Chief ended. 18 years later, he would marry Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Their only child, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent and Strathearn, the future Queen Victoria, was born in 1819.

Edward would die from pneumonia on 23 January 1820.

The papers will provide a fresh insight into the Duke for historians around the world. They have been placed online via the Georgian Papers Online project which works to bring original material to life. Their website can be found here.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.