Prince William of Gloucester

Prince William was born at Hadley Common, Hertfordshire. His father was Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1900–1974), the third eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary. His mother was Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (1901–2004), the third daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch. As a grandson of the British monarch in the male line, he was styled Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with the style His Royal Highness.

Prince William of Gloucester
Prince William of Gloucester with his parents, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and brother, Prince Richard, in 1962.

Prince William of Gloucester (1941 – 1972) relaxes on his 21st birthday at his home at York House, 18th December 1962.

He was baptised in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on 22 February 1942 by Cosmo Gordon Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury. His godparents were: King George VI (his paternal uncle); Queen Mary (his paternal grandmother); Princess Helena Victoria (his cousin); the Lady Margaret Hawkins (his maternal aunt); Major the Lord William Montagu Douglas Scott (his maternal uncle); and the Viscount Gort (who was unable to attend).

Because of the war, newspapers did not identify the actual location of the christening, and said instead that it took place at “a private chapel in the country”. In 1947, Prince William was a page boy for his cousin The Princess Elizabeth at her wedding to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The other page boy was Prince Michael of Kent. In 1953, he attended the coronation of Elizabeth II.

Prince William of Gloucester with Queen Elizabeth
Prince William of Gloucester with Queen Elizabeth.

Prince William spent his early childhood at Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire and later in Australia, where his father served as Governor-General from 1945 to 1947. He received his education at Wellesley House School, a prep school at Broadstairs in Kent, then at Eton College. After leaving Eton in 1960, he went up to Magdalene College, Cambridge, to read history, graduating with a BA degree in 1963, subsequently raised to an MA (Cantab.) degree in 1968. After Cambridge, he spent a post-baccalaureate year at Stanford University, studying political science, American history, and business.

After returning to Britain, he took a position with Lazards, a merchant bank.

Prince William was the second member of the British Royal Family to work in the civil service or the diplomatic service (the first was his uncle, Prince George, Duke of Kent, in the 1920s). He joined the Commonwealth Office in 1965 and was posted to Lagos as the third secretary at the British High Commission. In 1968, he transferred to Tokyo to accept the post of second secretary (commercial) in the British Embassy.

Prince William of Gloucester Plane Crash
Prince William of Gloucester Plane Crash

In 1970, the health of his father, the Duke of Gloucester, was beginning to fail and Prince William was diagnosed as suffering from porphyria. Prince William resigned from the diplomatic service and returned to Britain. For the next two years, he managed Barnwell Manor and began to carry out public duties as a member of the royal family.

Prince William served on some occasions as Counsellor of State in the absence of his cousin, the Queen.

Shortly before transferring to Tokyo in August 1968, Prince William was examined by an RAF physician, Dr. Henry Bellringer, at the request of the prince’s mother. William told the doctor that he had suffered from fever and cutaneous hepatic symptoms, beginning in December 1965 and lasting several months. He had subsequently noticed that his skin was prone to a blistering rash, particularly on exposure to sunshine. Dr. Bellringer tentatively diagnosed porphyria, prescribed sunblock cream and gave him a medical warning card regarding the need to avoid certain medications. Although he was aware of the theory of the royal family’s history of porphyria then being proposed by Professor Ida Macalpine and Dr Richard Hunter, he stated he “tried not to let it influence him…with all the symptoms, I was left with little option but to diagnose the Prince’s condition as porphyria.” William was later examined by haematologists at Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge and also by a Professor Ishihara in Tokyo, both of whom also concluded he was suffering from variegate porphyria, by then in remission.

A member of the British royal family being reliably diagnosed with porphyria subsequently added credence to the theory—first proposed by Professor Macalpine in the late 1960s—that porphyria was the source of the ill-health of both Mary, Queen of Scots (an ancestor of both of William’s parents) and of George III and that the disorder had been inherited by some members of the royal families of Great Britain, Prussia and several minor German dukedoms and principalities.

Prince William of Gloucester and Zsuzui Starkloff, Tokyo. 1969

Although details of Prince William’s personal life have remained intimately private, an interview with Mrs. Zsuzsi Starkloff published by the Daily Mail on 24 August 2012 asserts that William had a long-standing relationship with her and wanted to marry her; however, she alleges that because she was twice divorced with two small children, William’s family refused to acknowledge or accept their relationship. The Mail article speculates further that Starkloff met with displeasure from courtiers, because she was Jewish and Hungarian. According to Starkloff, William continued to see her until his accidental death in 1972.

Prince William of Gloucester boards his plane at Cambridge Airport, before a three-week trip to Japan, 19th August 1968. Prince William of Gloucester and divorcee, model and former air hostess Zsuzsi Starkloff apparently engaged in an affair. Prince William of Gloucester – the playboy prince. William flirted with the Edward VIII route. Prince William pictured shortly before his fateful flight. Prince William Plane Crash.