So, Just Who Was Prince William Of Gloucester?

We take a closer look at the life of Prince William of Gloucester and how his short-lived life came to a tragic end.

We all know who Prince William is, right? Well, while you’re probably thinking of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, older brother to Prince Harry, son of Charles, Prince of Wales, and grandson of HRH Queen Elizabeth II. The Prince William we’re looking at today is known as the ‘other Prince William’.

Prince William of Gloucester was the paternal cousin of Elizabeth II and was the grandson of George V, former king of England. At the time of his birth, he was actually fourth in line to the throne.

Prince William of Gloucester lead a tragically short life, yet to this day he remains the most recent descendent to George III to be diagnosed with a hereditary condition known as ‘Porphyria’ which is incidentally believed to be the illness behind the ‘Madness of King George’ as it is thought to be the reason for his mental breakdown.

Here’s a look at the tragically short life and times of Prince William of Gloucester.

Early Life

Born on the 18th of December, 1941, Prince William Henry Andrew Frederick was born in Hertfordshire, to the Duke of Gloucester, Prince Henry, and the Duchess of Gloucester, Alice.

As he was one of the youngest grandchildren of King George V and Queen Mary, he was fourth in line to the throne at birth and was first cousins with Princess Margaret, and Elizabeth II, who is currently Queen.

So, Just Who Was Prince William Of Gloucester?
William as a young boy in Canberra in 1946, with his parents (far left and far right) and Lord and Lady Mountbatten. | Image: National Library of Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

He was baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Windsor Castle in the private chapel in 1942. His godparents included his uncle, who was King George VI, and Queen Mary, who was his grandmother.

Had he not passed away in an untimely fashion, he would also have inherited the Dukedom of Gloucester title.

He was educated privately at Eton, and gained a reputation amongst his peers and his tutors, for being a bright young man. He was also extremely athletic and was very involved in sports and athletics.

He went on to get a BA degree in history at Magdalene College, before going to study at Stanford University, California, where he studied business, political science, and American history.

Freedom To Travel

After graduating in the U.S, Prince William of Gloucester returned to the UK, where he began working at a merchant’s bank in London known as Lazards.

So, Just Who Was Prince William Of Gloucester?
Prince William of Gloucester visiting a cattle farm in Wales in 1971. Image: Geoff Charles, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

By 1965 he was working for the Commonwealth Office, where he was posted around the world. It is said that he enjoyed this way of life as he loved to travel, he wasn’t in the public eye, and he got to enjoy his freedom.

Prince William of Gloucester met a woman in Tokyo named Zsuzsi Starkloff, and the two fell in love. He intended to marry her but she was deemed inappropriate as she was a twice-divorced Jewish and Hungarian mother of 2. Despite this, the two continued to court, right up until his death.


So, Just Who Was Prince William Of Gloucester?
Memorial to Prince William of Gloucester. Image: “Memorial to Prince William of Gloucester” by Philip Halling is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Prince William of Gloucester was forced to return to the UK in 1970 to take up his royal duties when his father suffered a series of strokes.

In 1972, William, who was a keen pilot and fully qualified, was competing in an air show in the UK. Tragically, after take-off, he lost control of his plane, causing its wing to clip a tree, which caused the plane to burst into flames.

Tragically, his body was so badly burned that he had to be identified by his dental records. He was just 30 years of age when he passed.

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