Thursday, August 23, 2012
Portrait Gallery: Remembrance of Scandal Past
In light of today's unflattering headlines in regard to a lesser member of a certain British family, I think it's worth remembering that they've been through this kind of thing before.
For instance, the blue-eyed gentleman seen here, in a typically bravura portrait by dear M. de László, was the cause of many trials in his comparatively short life. He is George, Duke of Kent, son of the difficult but distinctly longsuffering George V and Queen Mary, uncle of the present monarch and great-great-uncle of today's tabloid miscreant.
His deeds and misdeeds ranged from a rather too pronounced fondness for the nightlife (he most certainly, in a different decade, would have been a regular on The Disco Round, especially in regard to its pharmaceutical angle) to a reputedly indiscriminate approach to matters of the heart (and other less seemly parts). He is said to have included among his amours everyone from Barbara Cartland to the scandalous Duchess of Argyll, along with jazz diva Florence Mills, Mr. Noël Coward, and even the mother of Café favorite the Rajmata of Jaipur.
He married well, to Princess Marina of Greece, and whatever else went on on the side, they seem to have gotten along fine. In addition to his three Kentish children (all still among us and paragons of royal service, especially his daughter, the estimable Princess Alexandra, said to be the Queen's favorite cousin), he is alleged to have had several others; the Duchess of Westminster tried to start a rumor that one of them was Lee Radziwell's first husband, but that seems a little much even to me.
Rumors are just as rife about his political proclivities as his sex life, although scuttlebutt about his supposed Nazi leanings seem less justified than that that clouds the memory of his brother the ex-king and his harridan of a wife. He died in service to the nation, in a plane crash en route to a visit to the troops in Iceland, just 70 years ago this coming Saturday. His widow lived on irreproachable splendor 'til the late '60s, and the blots on his copybook have come, over the decades, to seem more interesting foibles than shameful lapses.
In short, a couple of blurry nudes should not, if all continues to be handled sensibly, go too far in diffusing the impact of these last few triumphant months for the Windsor clan. They've gotten through Windsor and Wally's affair (not to mention Koo Stark, embarrassing phone calls, killer corgis, and unflattering headlines going all the way back to poor Lady Flora Hastings and beyond), and they'll get through this.