Letter: `Lost' Prince John

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The Independent Online
Your feature on the photo albums of the Duke of Windsor is fascinating, and very welcome, but Prince John is not a "lost prince".

Royal children in the early years of this century were not exposed to the kind of publicity their descendants face today; but, far from being hidden, Prince John's existence and appearance were made known to the public through photographs.

I have 17 old picture postcards showing the Prince on his own, and a further 35 of him with a brother or sister, or in larger groups. These date from 1905, the year he was born, to 1916. Other photographs appeared in magazines, newspapers and books.

Too often the story of Prince John is used as evidence that the Royal Family were unnaturally cold and unfeeling to their children: your reporters are not the first to suggest that he was hidden away as an embarrassment. George V and Queen Mary gave him the best and most loving treatment any parents could have provided, by the standards of the day. Kept safe within the protective circle of the family, John commuted from London to Windsor, to Balmoral and Sandringham, with his brothers and sister, and he did meet visitors and play with other children.

Theodore Roosevelt met him at Buckingham Palace in 1911, and described a solid, cheeky little boy with no fear of his father. It was only in 1917 that John was moved to Wood Farm on doctors' advice, because his fits had become so frequent and so severe, and it was obvious that he did not have long to live. He was accompanied by the nurse who had looked after him from birth, and his family kept in close touch and visited regularly.


Pett, East Sussex