§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (VISCOUNT CRANBORNE) (Lord Cecil) had the following Notices on the Paper:
§ To move to resolve, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty to express the deep sorrow of this House at the great loss which His Majesty has sustained by the death on active service of Air-Commodore His Royal Highness Prince George Edward Alexander Edmund Duke of Kent, K.G., K.T., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., member of His Majesty's most honourable Privy Council, and to condole with His Majesty on this melancholy occasion: to assure His Majesty that this House shares the general feeling of sorrow for the heavy bereavement which His Majesty has sustained by the death of a prince highly esteemed and beloved by His Majesty's subjects, and to express to His Majesty the dutiful and loyal interest which this House will ever feel in all that may concern His Majesty and the Royal Family.
§ To move to resolve, That this House do condole with Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent on the sad bereavement which Her Royal Highness has sustained by the death on active service of Air-Commodore His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, K.G., K.T., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O.
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, ours is a tragic generation. We live in times very different from those of our fathers. Rarely does a day pass without our being faced with some painful happening. The world is drenched with blood; we are glutted with horrors. One might almost have imagined that we had become hardened to grief and suffering; but even now from time to time an event will occur which still has power to shock the world. Such an event is that of which it is my sad duty to speak to your Lordships today, in moving that an humble Address 266 be presented to His Majesty on the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent.
§ The deplorable disaster in which His Royal Highness lost his life has robbed this country of a prince who had already played a great part in our national life, and who, it seemed, had clearly an even greater part to play in the future. The Duke of Kent was a man of no ordinary attainments; he had brilliant qualities of vitality and vision; he had swift and shrewd judgment. It was my good fortune to have occasional conversations with His Royal Highness on matters connected with the Empire, a subject in which he always showed a passionate interest; and the last time was only a few days ago, on the very day on which he started on the journey which led to his death. He was looking forward keenly to his visit to Iceland; he was, as always, glad to be able to do anything to help. His main preoccupation was that he could not do more. I remember thinking, as I went away, what a brilliant future lay before him. And now that future is no more; his life, which had in it so much of promise, has been suddenly and brutally cut short.
§ The ways of God are inscrutable, but this we can say: the Duke of Kent's death was not only a noble one; it was symbolic. We in this country are blessed with a Monarchy, and the essence of that Monarchy, the reason above all why it retains the loyalty, the affection and the esteem of the British people, is that not only His Majesty the King but the whole Royal Family are proud to share not only in our joys but in our sorrows and in our dangers. They are bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Of this intimate connexion, the Duke of Kent, both in his life and in his death, was an epitome. A prince of outstanding ability, in the plenitude of his powers, blessed with a happy family circle, he has given his life in the service of his country. How often in the last terrible years have the King and Queen and other members of the Royal Family mourned with us in our sorrows! To-day we mourn with them in theirs. In particular, I would express the heartfelt sympathy of your Lordships with Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent and their children in their overwhelming sorrow. It would also, I feel sure, be the wish of this House, as of the late Duke himself, that I should express our deep sympathy with the families of those others 267 who, equally in the service of their country, lost their lives in this lamentable disaster. I beg to move.
§ Moved to resolve, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty to express the deep sorrow of this House at the great loss which His Majesty has sustained by the death on active service of Air-Commodore His Royal Highness Prince George Edward Alexander Edmund Duke of Kent, KG., K.T., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., member of His Majesty's most honourable Privy Council, and to condole with His Majesty on this melancholy occasion: to assure His Majesty that this House shares the general feeling of sorrow for the heavy bereavement which His Majesty has sustained by the death of a prince highly esteemed and beloved by His Majesty's subjects, and to express to His Majesty the dutiful and loyal interest which this House will ever feel in all that may concern His Majesty and the Royal Family.—(Viscount Cranborne.)
§ LORD ADDISON
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friends I should like with deep sincerity and with kindred sadness to associate ourselves with the Motions which the noble Viscount has submitted to the House. The noble Viscount indicated that His Royal Highness upheld in his life the splendid traditions of our Royal House, which are an example to the world of how, under wise guidance, monarchical institutions can adjust themselves to changing times, and provide a high example to the whole commonwealth of nations. His Royal Highness lost his life in characteristic, unostentatious service in the interest of the State, in the prime of life, his young wife and his children bereft: a signal example of the waste and sacrifice that are being forced upon the world at this time by the murderous brutality of the Nazis and their insatiable war-makers—which will be overcome, pray God, by free peoples who will make an end of such wickedness. In the time to come no doubt the spot where His Royal Highness met his death will be reverenced and will make a solitary place to be glorious and an inspiration.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
My Lords, my noble friends and I desire to associate ourselves in the fullest degree with what has been said from both the Front Benches, of regret at the tragedy 268 that has brought about the death on active service of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, and of sympathy with their Majesties the King and Queen and with the whole Royal Family, especially, I would say, with Queen Mary, and most of all, of course, with the Duchess of Kent and her children, who are left to face the coming years without him. As the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, has reminded us, those coming years seemed to promise a future to His Royal Highness as attractive as could be presented to any man in his middle years. His personal popularity, and the universal good will which greeted him, brought about by his exquisite courtesy of manner; the hope of increasing interest in many forms of culture, art and music, and the enjoyment of foreign travel of which he had already seen so much; the prospect of undertaking great Imperial responsibilities, such as that of the Governorship of Australia which was so unhappily prevented by circumstances, and one can picture him also as representing the King-Emperor in free and federated India; most of all, of course, the radiant happiness of his home—all that went for nothing at the call of duty and the danger which he had to meet in the service of King and country.
But I do not now think only of his war service. Perhaps I may be allowed to mention two quite recent occasions on which I was privileged to observe his devotion to public work. As it happens, I am the senior of the four Elder Brethren of Trinity House who have seats in your Lordships' House—besides, of course, members of the Royal Family. It was only a few weeks ago, towards the middle of last month, that for the second time His Royal Highness, having succeeded his great uncle, the Duke of Connaught, as Master of that great corporation, made the formal declaration of loyalty to the King in the service of that corporation, and I know that all the Elder Brethren, and also the far larger number of Younger Brethren, most of whom are far older in age than he was, were looking forward to being for the rest of their lives presided over by a prince who himself had had a naval education, and was equally interested in the affairs of that corporation on which, in peace as well as in war, the safety of His Majesty's ships and of the Merchant Navy so much depends. The other occasion was that 269 of the annual meeting of King Edward's Hospital Fund of which His Royal Highness had become President. I can see him now, a gallant figure in Air Force uniform, delivering the annual address and carrying out the rather complicated duties of the meeting with all capacity. Those gatherings and others like them will see him no more, but we cannot forget, while we think most at this moment of his chivalrous last journey, that in happier days he would have given great service in his peaceful public duties and in the leadership of many good causes.
§ VISCOUNT TRENCHARD
My Lords, as the oldest officer in the Royal Air Force, I would like to say how deeply grieved the Royal Air Force are by the tragic loss of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent in an air accident. I learnt recently from personal experience when visiting aerodromes that the whole Air Force realized and appreciated the keen interest he took in them—and not only the interest, but the help that he gave them in every way.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, I would like to associate those who sit on these Benches with what has already been said. Monarchy in this country has developed in recent years so that the Sovereign suffers when his people suffer, and in return the people share in his bereavement. The whole Empire feels deeply with the King in the death of a much-loved brother, and with the Duchess of Kent and her children in the great and irreparable loss which they have suffered. The death of the Duke has come as a personal loss to large numbers who had only seen him on public occasions, but who have marked the thoroughness and dignity with which he carried out his many duties, while those who had come into contact with him, however slightly, had felt at once his charm and friendliness. He and his companions died on active service, and their names will be enrolled among the great host of those, of all ranks and classes, who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country. They have passed away from us, but we believe that in the unseen world they still live and there are given further and greater opportunities of serving.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente; the said Address to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.270
§ Moved to resolve, That this House do condole with Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent on the sad bereavement which Her Royal Highness has sustained by the death on active service of Air-Commodore His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, K.G., K.T., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O.—(Viscount Cranborne.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente.
§ Ordered, That the Duke of Norfolk and the Duke of Devonshire do attend Her Royal Highness with the said Message.