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BeatrixFan 11-27-2006 04:18 PM

What might have been....
 
I was reading an article today about Prince George, Duke of Kent being asked to become the King of Poland. Marina and George made a trip there in the late 1930s and were extremely well recieved and it was only the invasion of Poland by Hitler that scuppered the plan. Just think - the current Duke of Kent could well have been King Edward of Poland. And speaking of King Edward, the Earl of Wessex of course was offered the throne of Estonia by their Royalist Party. I think it's quite strange to imagine how things could have been. For example, say the Duke and Duchess of Windsor had been King and Queen - could they have avoided WWII by negotiating with Hitler and using the family tie of the new King of Poland? Just thought I'd share that. :flowers:

Avareenah 11-27-2006 07:06 PM

It would have been an unwise idea for George, Duke of Kent, to be any more than he already was, in my opinion.

He is said by most reliable sources to have been a person who couldn't say "no" to anything -- he mixed with dubious people, was a promiscuous bisexual and had, for a period, an addiction to cocaine which his eldest brother helped him overcome (one of the few truly commendable things Edward did).

As for the Duke of Windsor -- I don't believe he would have stuck it out any longer than he did as King, even if Wallis Simpson hadn't come along. He simply wasn't interested in being royal, let alone the ruling monarch, and always put his personal life first.

Duchess 11-27-2006 07:23 PM

were these offers actually made? i'd never heard of them before. things certainly would have been different if wallis and edward had been king and queen that's for sure.

BeatrixFan 11-27-2006 07:38 PM

The Polish offer was definately made and the Estonian one was only quite recent AFAIK.

As for George, I think he had what I call "Crisp Syndrome". George was gay - or bisexual in the very least and at a time when you could still be hanged on a charge of sodomy, gay men suddenly adopted this very effeminate style as if they were flappers. And it was from this generation that we got the term "camp". Quentin Crisp became overly effeminate and did things to excess to become a kind of social rarity. Well, I think this is really what George did. He slept around, he wore women's clothes, he had passionate affairs with equally camp gentlemen - Noel Coward to name but one and the cocaine was just part of that "flapper" culture. And it hasn't completely disappeared - I was shaped by it because it still exists in the camp culture that's now legal but that's still somehow nessecary. For example, I had blonde highlights, started smoking, took drugs, drank alot, slept around etc because it was the thing for gay guys to be doing. Well, in George's time it was very much the same and I think that because of the situation he found himself in, his longing to do those things were heightened and made all the more desperate which led to addictions etc. Having said that, I don't think that affected his workload or his sense of duty and he seemed to be a hard worker and someone who was admired. But then again, people didn't know about his lifestyle back then.

Avareenah 11-27-2006 08:34 PM

So, do you think George behaved like this because it was the only way he could express himself (being gay) at that time (1920's-30's)?

I remember a story where his father (George V) went into a rage when he saw a photograph of George wearing a skimpy silver costume at a party. I wonder how aware his parents were of his life style?

BeatrixFan 11-27-2006 08:46 PM

Yes, I'd say that his behaviour was a release. Among an intimate circle of friends, he could do things and explore things that his position and the social constraints of the time barred him from doing and exploring.

Apparantly the King and Queen knew about George's affairs. There was that story of when Noel Coward and the Duke were out in drag, roaring drunk and leaning on a lampost laughing when they were arrested. When the police officer found out who they were he let them go and apologies were made but it was a very strange thing and I assume the King and Queen would have known about it.

There is a book by a former Royal footman and later butler to Noel Coward who talks about his life with Noel and he mentions the Duke alot. Apparantly when he was young, George had huge rows with his father. He kept saying that he wanted to be an actor and pursue the arts, his father wanted him to go into the navy - so he went into the navy. But I think the Queen was well aware of her son's tendencies. A mother knows...

Elspeth 11-28-2006 03:27 AM

I doubt there'd have been any way of avoiding World War II short of surrendering before it started. The British upper classes weren't opposed to Germany on the whole before the war, so Edward wasn't that different from many of his peers. The big deal with Hitler is that he treated Wallis like a royal at a time when most other leaders weren't doing so and it mattered a lot to Edward that she be treated that way. If the king had let her have her HRH and if some effort had been made to integrate them into the royal family, I don't know that the whole Hitler thing would have happened anyway.

Warren 11-28-2006 05:06 AM

Kent, Poland... and Mountbatten
 
The following is a combination 'extract/paraphrase/own' largely from "A Polish Question: Monarchial sentiments in Poland 1918-39" by Michael Nash, Royalty Digest #167, May 2005.

In October 1928 The International Herald Tribune quoted the Prime Minister of Poland as saying "Poland needs a monarchy...if the country is to prosper."
Poland was a kingdom until its dismemberment in 1795, and during the period of elective monarchy sovereigns had been chosen from outside the country, so the precedents for a monarchical system and an outsider King were already established

The leading (unofficial) contender was the Duke of Kent, son of the British King, handsome, socially at ease, and married to the glamorous Marina, who came with impeccable Royal and Imperial connections. In August 1937 they went to Poland to see for themselves, and in some quarters at least were rapturously received. Though not an offical state visit, in many ways it resembled one. They visited several towns, where the Duke gave speeches praising the Polish people.

From then on, the Duke of Kent studied everything about Poland and Polish affairs, eagerly educating himself for his future role. According to a British intelligence writer, the idea of making Kent the King of Poland originated with none other than Lord Louis Mountbatten. [The prospect of Mountbatten's younger daughter marrying the son of the Duke to become Crown Princess and eventual Queen of Poland is not canvassed.]

The Duke made many trips to Germany and Central Europe during 1938 and 1939, usually interprteted as social visits to relatives (Prince Paul in Yugoslavia, the Toerring-Jettenbachs in Munich, the Hesse-Cassels in Hesse etc). Whether they were anything more is purely speculative, as the adventure, if it ever was, came to a sudden end in August 1942 when the Duke was killed in an air crash in Scotland while on active service.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

On another note and another "what might have been", the author states that the widowed Princess Marina was asked to become Queen of Norway by the also-widowed King Olav V after he became King in 1957. The exact timing of his overtures to Marina and to the Queen Mother, and whether they overlapped, is unknown.

ysbel 11-28-2006 05:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BeatrixFan
There is a book by a former Royal footman and later butler to Noel Coward who talks about his life with Noel and he mentions the Duke alot. Apparantly when he was young, George had huge rows with his father. He kept saying that he wanted to be an actor and pursue the arts, his father wanted him to go into the navy - so he went into the navy. But I think the Queen was well aware of her son's tendencies. A mother knows...

BeatrixFan, do you think that George's preferences would have mattered to Queen Mary? The impression I get from the British Royal Family at that time was that you were expected to do your duty and damned be your personal preferences regardless of whether they were for other men, acting, skydiving or anything else for that matter. What an individual wanted or preferred didn't seem to fit into their mentality very well.

What would you say?

ysbel 11-28-2006 05:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Warren
The following is a combination 'extract/paraphrase/own' largely from "A Polish Question: Monarchial sentiments in Poland 1918-39" by Michael Nash, Royalty Digest #167, May 2005.

In October 1928 The International Herald Tribune quoted the Prime Minister of Poland as saying "Poland needs a monarchy...if the country is to prosper."
Poland was a kingdom until its dismemberment in 1795, and during the period of elective monarchy sovereigns had been chosen from outside the country, so the precedents for a monarchical system and an outsider King were already established

The leading (unofficial) contender was the Duke of Kent, son of the British King, handsome, socially at ease, and married to the glamorous Marina, who came with impeccable Royal and Imperial connections. In August 1937 they went to Poland to see for themselves, and in some quarters at least were rapturously received. Though not an offical state visit, in many ways it resembled one. They visited several towns, where the Duke gave speeches praising the Polish people.

From then on, the Duke of Kent studied everything about Poland and Polish affairs, eagerly educating himself for his future role. According to a British intelligence writer, the idea of making Kent the King of Poland originated with none other than Lord Louis Mountbatten. [The prospect of Mountbatten's younger daughter marrying the son of the Duke to become Crown Princess and eventual Queen of Poland is not canvassed.]

The Duke made many trips to Germany and Central Europe during 1938 and 1939, usually interprteted as social visits to relatives (Prince Paul in Yugoslavia, the Toerring-Jettenbachs in Munich, the Hesse-Cassels in Hesse etc). Whether they were anything more is purely speculative, as the adventure, if it ever was, came to a sudden end in August 1942 when the Duke was killed in an air crash in Scotland while on active service.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

On another note and another "what might have been", the author states that the widowed Princess Marina was asked to become Queen of Norway by the also-widowed King Olav V after he became King in 1957. The exact timing of his overtures to Marina and to the Queen Mother, and whether they overlapped, is unknown.

Lord Louis Mountbatten was certainly trying to be a Kingmaker. He sounds like a 20th century Warwick!

BeatrixFan 11-28-2006 11:19 AM

Quote:

I doubt there'd have been any way of avoiding World War II short of surrendering before it started.
Well, technically Britain only declared war as a result of the invasion of Poland. I very much doubt that Hitler would have invaded Poland if George was King - who knows, maybe George would have tried to work with him just as across the pond, Neville Chamberlain had tried to? I think that the second world war was inevitable - it was very much about punishing the Germans for the first IMO.

Quote:

BeatrixFan, do you think that George's preferences would have mattered to Queen Mary?
Well Ysbel, I think that Queen Mary would have just turned a blind eye. As you say, it was a time when these things went on but duty came first. I think that as long as George kept up the pretence of being happily married and as long as Marina wasn't unhappy, Mary would have just let him get on with it - which she did. Now, whether he'd have "come out" before his marriage would be another matter. I think that George would most likely have been sent away like Prince John. Bear in mind that homosexuality or any tendencies were seen as an illness which was also illegal. Openly gay men (not women as the law didn't apply) were arrested and then treated by doctors with hormones and electric shock therapy. Now, George would probably have been treated for a while privately and the treatment kept hush-hush. But it's difficult to know how she would have felt. As I said before, there's no doubt that Mary knew about her son's love affairs. The Queen Mother certainly did and sort of took Noel Coward to her bosom once George had died as a kind of "Widow's Friend".

I very much doubt it would have mattered to Mary but as you say, duty was a priority and I think it would only have worried her if his personal life started to affect his working life which is basically what all Royal Family members are expected to make the divide between, even today. I don't know how camp George was. By the sounds of him, he was quite effeminate and certainly indulged in the activities most gay men were indulging in back then so I imagine George would have been quite easy to identify as gay. But remember, in George's circles, being gay was something very daring. Quentin Crisp used to say how he wowed the middle classes by just being effeminate because they thought that homosexuality was "rather delicious and magical". So, I would say that George was a novelty to his friends but a slight worry to his family, a worry that the truth would come out, but at the end of the day I think that Mary would have just accepted George who by the sounds of things was her favourite anyway.

Elspeth 11-28-2006 01:45 PM

I imagine that as long as he was discreet about it, a maternal blind eye would have been turned. The problem was that he wasn't always all that discreet, what with the incident of the letters he wrote to one of his lovers having to be bought back at an exorbitant cost.

I wonder why, if they thought Poland needed a monarch in the late 1920s, they hadn't got round to doing anything about it a decade later when the war started. Seems as though if it hadn't happened by then it was never going to happen, even if the Duke had lived.

I also wonder why they wanted to ask the Duke and Duchess of Kent rather than one of the descendants of the Stuart kings through the Sobieski line.

Jo of Palatine 11-28-2006 01:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BeatrixFan
I think it's quite strange to imagine how things could have been. For example, say the Duke and Duchess of Windsor had been King and Queen - could they have avoided WWII by negotiating with Hitler and using the family tie of the new King of Poland? Just thought I'd share that. :flowers:

No, Hitler was bent on war. Chamberlain while responsible for Britain did all he could to prevent this war - thus Hitler gained first Austria, the German, then Slavic (the rest of) Czechia and Slowakia. He wanted Poland, because he planned to conquer the Sowiet Union from the beginning. Offering the Polish throne to a relative of the British king was done in the hope that this coalition would strengthen the traditionally close ties between Poland and the UK.

I'm aghast at the idea that a negociation between "David" and Hitler could have led to a later start of the war - already the Germans were killing Jews and Germans who opposed their regime and planning to get rid of all Polish and Russian Jews they were able to get their hands on. Negociation or eben a "peace treaty" would have given Hitler more time to get the possibilities to do all that: just imagine!

One need not forget that Hitler was not a politician but a criminal, a mass murderer disguised as head of a state. He never planned for anything but war in Europe, believing in the superiority of the Germans, in their capability to enslave the rest of Europe and in his right to rule the Germans in an absolute and dictatorial way. Thank God it turned out that he had met his match in the Britons and the Scandinavians! (If you study history you'll find that most other European countries, including France, were not really into opposition against Hitler, but took their chance, once the British led.)

So I assume a rule of Poland would have been a rather short one, especially as the Sowiets were bent on conquering as much of Europe as well (see the treaty between Hitler and Stalin of 1941 and how that led to the cold war). Nope - no way here...

Jo of Palatine 11-28-2006 02:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Warren
On another note and another "what might have been", the author states that the widowed Princess Marina was asked to become Queen of Norway by the also-widowed King Olav V after he became King in 1957. The exact timing of his overtures to Marina and to the Queen Mother, and whether they overlapped, is unknown.

King Olav disputed this claim in his memoirs and another time openly before he died, saying he never asked anyone to become his wife apart from his late queen. You can find the info in the Norwegian Royals forum. :flowers:

BeatrixFan 11-28-2006 05:16 PM

Maybe I am being a little too generous to Hitler. I see him as being an incredible leader - that even though he did evil and terrible things, he still had such loyalty from common people. I think that Hitler did have the common flaw of a dictator and that is that he wanted to see Nazism travel outside of Germany - but then again, he had a different view of what Germany was exactly. I think he was quite genuinely shocked when Britain stood up against him, especially as most of the upper class thought he was a charming man. I think King George and Queen Marina might have been charmed by him. If they weren't, maybe they'd have met a very sticky end.

Avareenah 11-28-2006 06:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Warren
The following is a combination 'extract/paraphrase/own' largely from "A Polish Question: Monarchial sentiments in Poland 1918-39" by Michael Nash, Royalty Digest #167, May 2005.

Thanks for this information, Warren.

I have to admit I had no idea Prince George was approached about this until BeatrixFan's post and that he, in turn, took the proposition very seriously.

As regards to Queen Mary's reaction to her son George's lifestyle, I think she would have been deeply troubled by it but, as has been said, as long as it wasn't publicly known, she let it go. What else could she do? A Queen doesn't have any more control over her adult children than anyone else does, really.

King George V was appalled by the behaviour of his eldest and youngest (surviving) sons, nor did he accept homosexuality at all, as was fairly common at that time.

BeatrixFan 11-28-2006 07:25 PM

Well quite famously George V said, "I do not knight buggers" when a homosexual's name was put forward for a KBE.

ysbel 11-28-2006 09:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Elspeth
I imagine that as long as he was discreet about it, a maternal blind eye would have been turned. The problem was that he wasn't always all that discreet, what with the incident of the letters he wrote to one of his lovers having to be bought back at an exorbitant cost.

I wonder why, if they thought Poland needed a monarch in the late 1920s, they hadn't got round to doing anything about it a decade later when the war started. Seems as though if it hadn't happened by then it was never going to happen, even if the Duke had lived.

I also wonder why they wanted to ask the Duke and Duchess of Kent rather than one of the descendants of the Stuart kings through the Sobieski line.

Yes, the Duke of Kent seemed somewhat chancy to start a dynasty with even if one didn't know the outcome of the darkening warclouds. Or why not even his older brother the Duke of Gloucester who seemed more stable?

ysbel 11-28-2006 09:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BeatrixFan
I very much doubt it would have mattered to Mary but as you say, duty was a priority and I think it would only have worried her if his personal life started to affect his working life which is basically what all Royal Family members are expected to make the divide between, even today. I don't know how camp George was. By the sounds of him, he was quite effeminate and certainly indulged in the activities most gay men were indulging in back then so I imagine George would have been quite easy to identify as gay. But remember, in George's circles, being gay was something very daring. Quentin Crisp used to say how he wowed the middle classes by just being effeminate because they thought that homosexuality was "rather delicious and magical". So, I would say that George was a novelty to his friends but a slight worry to his family, a worry that the truth would come out, but at the end of the day I think that Mary would have just accepted George who by the sounds of things was her favourite anyway.

Ah, maybe George was helped by the fact that 'those types of things' didn't get reported in the regular newspapers. Nowadays I think it would be difficult to hide.

Elspeth 11-28-2006 09:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ysbel
Yes, the Duke of Kent seemed somewhat chancy to start a dynasty with even if one didn't know the outcome of the darkening warclouds. Or why not even his older brother the Duke of Gloucester who seemed more stable?

Maybe while the Prince of Wales was unmarried, the Duke of Gloucester was considered too high in the line of succession. During Princess Elizabeth's childhood after her father became king, the Duke was regent designate, which might have ruled him out as a prospective monarch of another country. My guess is that Prince George's royal wife, with her Russian mother, and the fact that he had a son by the mid-1930s were the things that made the difference.


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