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The Duke of York wanted at least one of his own sons to share the Naval  life he had enjoyed.

His first child, who briefly became King Edward VIII, who was known in the family by one of his baptised names - David - was born in 1894 and was created Duke of Cornwall. This was  a sign that he, in his turn,  would become King one day.  As part of his training for this role, he was sent to the new  Naval College in Dartmouth in 1909 for a brief spell to give him experience of Service life but this was not intended to be the precursor of a career in the Navy.

 

The photograph below is not  by James Dinham - he did photograph the Duke of Cornwall at Dartmouth but this is now in the National Portrait Collection. By Prince David's uniform below, we can hazard a guess at the date. Prince David went to Dartmouth in 1909, at a time when cadets still wore high, stiff  wing collars and had three buttons at the end of their sleeves instead of stripes. Below, you will see no sign of the buttons and he wears a comfortable soft collar and a tie. And we see also by his collar badges that he has passed his test and become a Midshipman, so he has had his 16th birthday and it must be 1910.  (His grandfather, Edward VII wears on his sleeves the insignia of an Admiral of the Fleet while his father bears that of a vice admiral). This was taken shortly before Edward VII died 6 May 1910 when Prince David's father, became King George V and the young midshipman, Prince David, in his turn became Prince of Wales.

 

Three kings in one picture.

Three kings in one picture.

Left to right: George V; Edward VIII; Edward VII

From our postcard collection

 

 

It was the second son - Princes Albert - for whom a naval career was planned. Yet another 2nd son who was not born to be King, you may not recognise him by name because when he came to the throne, he used the title  "George VI". Perhaps you saw a film about him called The King's Speech - well that was Prince Albert. James Dinham photographed him at roughly the same time of his life - here he is in his Midshipman's uniform - soft collar and tie, no buttons on his sleeves and in his lapels that distinctive Midshipman's emblem. It appears that unlike the photo above, this  one was taken outside a doorway at the Royal Naval College. His mother and father paid a visit to the College after they became King and Queen in 1910 and posed in the same position.

 

Prince George at Dartmouth College

Prince Albert at Dartmouth College

Phtographed by James Dinham

© Gordon Higham

 

In September 2000, the Public Record Office released documents relating to the military records of King George VI, formerly Prince Albert. 

 

The documents show that his general conduct aboard HMS Collingwood was regarded by senior officers as merely "satisfactory" but that the ship's captain noted that the future king, who was then Prince Albert, "promises well". He was said to be able to take charge, assume responsibility and "handle men well".

In August 1914 it was recorded that Prince Albert was making "favourable progress", but there were a number of sick leave entries. He spent a month at Balmoral Castle, at Ballater, Scotland, in September 1915. On the eve of the Battle of Jutland (May 31st 1916), he was in the sick bay aboard the Collingwood, suffering from a surfeit of soused herring. Despite this, he manned his gun turret, fighting throughout the engagement - the last British monarch to see action in war. He was commended in the London Gazette for his part in the battle.

After his time on HMS Collingwood, where his general conduct was regarded as only being "satisfactory", he spent some time on the Naval Staff working for Sir Stanley Colville, Commander- in - chief at Portsmouth, who described the future king as being "very zealous and hardworking".

 

Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George became King George VI when his eldest brother decided to abdicate the throne so that he could marry Mrs Simpson and once again, the prince born to be king did not succeed to the throne.

 

One more of the royal brothers was to follow his father to Dartmouth. Known as Prince George and who later became Duke of Kent -  George Edward Alexander Edmund -  followed his brothers to Dartmouth and was also photographed there by James Dinham. He remained in the Royal Navy until 1929, serving on the Iron Duke and later the Nelson.

 

When World War II broke out, Prince George returned to the Navy with the rank of Rear Admiral, serving in the Intelligence Division of the Admiralty. He was killed in a plane crash in 1942. Only one of George V's sons joined the Army. Prince Henry  was sent to Sandhurst and remained involved in the Army until after World War 2 had ended.

 

prince George at Dartmouth Naval College

Prince George (Duke of Kent) at Dartmouth Naval College

Phtographed by James Dinham

© Gordon Higham

 

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