Trooping the Colour: Duke of Kent leaves after parade
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Tragically 49 years ago today, Prince William of Gloucester died in 1972 in a plane accident aged 30, after living the life of a ‘daredevil Prince’ according to royal commentators. Prince William’s parents were Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester.
Through his father, William was one of the youngest grandchildren of King George V and Queen Mary.
At the time of his birth, William was fourth in line to the throne.
Prince William was the elder brother of Prince Richard, who is now the Duke of Gloucester, aged 76.
William would have inherited the Dukedom of Gloucester had it not been for his untimely passing.
In his childhood, he and his cousin, Prince Michael of Kent were page boys at Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten’s wedding on November 20, 1947.
Educated at Eton College, the Prince was remembered by his classmates and teachers for being smart and incredibly athletic.
William went on to study History at Magdalene College, Cambridge and then travelled to Stanford University in California to study Political Science, American History and Business.
In 1965, the royal started working in Lagos as the third secretary at the British High Commission.
In 1968, he was transferred to Tokyo as the second secretary in the British Embassy.
According to royal commentators, he enjoyed his life free from royal duties and protocol.
By the time of his death, William had met the woman he intended to marry, had she been deemed appropriate in royal circles.
Zsuzsi Starkloff met Prince William in Tokyo in 1968, and they reportedly fell madly in love.
Royal courtiers, however, were adamant Starkloff was not suitable. As a twice-divorced Jewish mother of two young children, their relationship was never formally acknowledged.
At the time, non-members of the Church of England were not permitted to marry into the Royal Family, nor was divorce approved.
Despite this, their correspondence continued until his death in 1972.
In 1970, when William’s father Prince Henry was suffering from strokes, he had to return to the UK to manage his father’s estate and become a full-time working royal.
In 1972, Prince William, who was a qualified pilot and who owned several aircrafts, was competing in the Goodyear International Air Trophy. The Duchess of Gloucester was sitting in the stands to watch her son compete.
Shortly after take-off, William tragically lost control of the plane at a low altitude causing the wing to hit a tree and burst into flames.
He was well-regarded as a ‘daredevil Prince’ according to Royal Central, taking on several dangerous hobbies, including, flying, ballooning and hiking in the Sahara Desert.
William was greatly admired by his second cousin, Prince Charles. When he became a father, Charles named his first son in honour of Prince William of Gloucester according to Royal Central.
At the time of his death, he was only 30-years-old and ninth in line to the throne. He is buried at the Royal Burial Ground in Windsor.
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