You may think you’ve heard it all when it comes to the British royal family. The lives and loves of the people in this institution are well documented. But are you familiar with the tale of romance and tragedy that was the life of Prince William of Gloucester? The adventures of “the other Prince William” are the stuff legends are made of, but his devastating fate makes him a tragic figure in the history oft the royal family.
A royal life cut short
Many of us may never have even heard the name Prince William of Gloucester before. Yet at the time of his birth, this son of the House of Windsor was no less than fourth in line to the British throne. He sat behind his cousins, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, and then his father, Prince Henry.
William was the grandson of King George V, who was also the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II. William was the first paternal nephew born to his uncle, King George VI. Sadly, William also became the first of George V’s grandchildren to die.
“A dazzling young man with a great future of promise”
Prince William's demise was under heartbreaking circumstances, no less because the royal was only 30 years old at the time. In a family known for their longevity, William's death came as a huge shock. And yet during his earlier years, he was far from a tragic figure. The prince was athletic, passionate, and loving. His short life was full of adventure and romance.
But to modern audiences, William remains an obscure figure... if they've heard of him at all. A British documentary about his life was called The Other Prince William, which says much about his status in the minds of modern audiences. According to royal biographer Christopher Wilson, he is “the royal family’s forgotten star.”
An unusual start to life
William was born in Hertfordshire, England, in December 1941, while World War II was raging. William’s father — Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester — was unable to be at his son’s birth due to his wartime duties. Needless to say, it was a chaotic time for the royals.
This was only five years after King George VI's unexpected ascension to the throne. But despite the war, it was imperative for William's christening to go on as normal, and so the location of the christening was kept secret at the time due to the global conflict.
His godfather was the King
Prince William’s baptism was certainly an occasion befitting a royal baby. His mom, after all, was Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester, while his godfather that day was no less than King George VI. Queen Mary, the widow of King George V, was his godmother. The event brought together a who’s who of eminent British royals at that time, despite the war.
Princess Helena Victoria, Queen Victoria's granddaughter, and Major Lord William Montagu Douglas Scott also served as William's godparents, among others. If anything were to happen to Prince Henry or Princess Alice, William would be in good hands.