Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh

Prince William Frederick
Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Predecessor Prince William Henry
Born (1776-01-15)15 January 1776
Teodoli Palace, Rome
Died 30 November 1834(1834-11-30) (aged 58)
Bagshot Park, Surrey
Burial St George's Chapel, Windsor
Spouse Princess Mary of the United Kingdom
Full name
William Frederick
House Hanover
Father Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Mother Maria Walpole

Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh KG GCB GCH PC FRS (15 January 1776 – 30 November 1834), was a great-grandson of King George II and nephew and son-in-law of King George III of the United Kingdom.

Early life

The Duke of Gloucester, in an engraving based on a portrait painted by Sir William Beechey, published 1826.

Prince William was born on 15 January 1776 at Palazzo Teodoli in via del Corso, Rome.[1] His father was Prince William, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, the third son of the Prince of Wales. His mother was Maria, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh, the illegitimate daughter of Edward Walpole and granddaughter of Robert Walpole. As a great-grandson of George II he held the title of Prince of Great Britain with the style His Highness, not His Royal Highness, at birth. The young prince was christened at Teodoli Palace, on 12 February 1776 by a Rev Salter. His godparents were the Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (his first cousin once-removed and his wife) and the Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (his second cousin once-removed).[2]

During his stay in Stockholm in 1802–1803, his interest and rumoured affair with Aurora Wilhelmina Koskull attracted a lot of attention, and he reportedly had plans to marry her. Queen Charlotte recalled that William said of Koskull: "If she was your daughter, I would marry her!"[3]

He was admitted to the University of Cambridge (Trinity College) in 1787, and granted his MA in 1790.[4] On 25 August 1805, Prince William's father died, and he inherited the titles Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh and Earl of Connaught. From 1811 until his death he was Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.[4] He was offered the position of king of Sweden in 1812 by some members of the Swedish nobility, but the British government would not allow it.


On 22 July 1816, he married Princess Mary, his cousin and the fourth daughter of George III. The marriage took place at St. James's Palace, London. On that day, The Prince Regent granted the Duke the style of His Royal Highness by Order in Council.[5]

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester lived at Bagshot Park in Surrey. They had no children together; they had married when both were 40. The Duke had been encouraged to stay single, so that there might be a suitable groom for Princess Charlotte of Wales, the heiress to the throne, even if no foreign match proved suitable; she had married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg ten weeks earlier.[6]

Later life

British Royalty
House of Hanover
Quarterly, I Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or impaling Or a lion rampant within a double-tressure flory-counter-flory Gules; II Azure three fleurs-de-lys Or; III Azure a harp Or stringed Argent; IV tierced per pale and per chevron, I Gules two lions passant guardant Or, II Or a semy of hearts Gules a lion rampant Azure, III Gules a horse courant Argent, overall an escutcheon Gules charged with the crown of Charlemagne Or
George II
Frederick, Prince of Wales
Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange
Princess Amelia
Princess Caroline
Prince William, Duke of Cumberland
Mary, Landgravine of Hesse-Cassel
Louise, Queen of Denmark and Norway
Augusta, Duchess of Brunswick
George III
Prince Edward, Duke of York and Albany
Princess Elizabeth of Wales
Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn
Princess Louisa of Wales
Prince Frederick of Wales
Caroline Matilda, Queen of Denmark and Norway
Princess Sophia of Gloucester
Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh

He was active in many walks of life, and on 27 April 1822 chaired the first Annual General Meeting of London's new United University Club.[7] Politics, however, was not among them; he entered the House of Lords rarely, and he voted on few of the great issues of his time. He did advocate the abolition of slavery, and he supported Caroline of Brunswick and the Duke of Sussex against George IV.[8]

He kept more state than the King; he never permitted a gentleman to be seated in his presence (which King George did as an exceptional favour) and expected to be served coffee by the ladies of any party he attended, and that they would stand while he drank it.[9] The general estimate of his capacity is given by his nickname, "Silly Billy"; he was also called "Slice of Gloucester" and "Cheese",[8] a reference to Gloucester cheese.

The Duke died on 30 November 1834, and was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

Honours and arms



William was granted use of his father's arms (being the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of five points, the centre bearing a fleur-de-lys azure, the other points each bearing a cross gules), the whole differenced by a label argent (or azure).[11]

See also



  1. "...the insignificant palaces, Fiano, Verospi, and Teodoli..." (Augustus Hare, Walks in Rome vol. i, 1903 p. 46).
  2. Yvonne's Royalty Home Page: Royal Christenings. Retrieved on 2012-07-15.
  3. Cecilia af Klercker (1927). Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok VII 1800–1806 (The diaries of Hedvig Elizabeth Charlotte VII 1800–1806) (in Swedish). P.A. Norstedt & Söners förlag. OCLC 68029346.
  4. 1 2 "Gloucester, H.R.H. Prince William Frederick, Duke of (GLCR787WF)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. Royal Styles and Titles – 1816 Royal Warrant. Retrieved on 2012-07-15.
  6. Complete Peerage, "Duke of Gloucester", citing the obituary of Princess Mary in the Annual Register of 1857.
  7. Club History Since 1821 at (accessed 9 January 2008)
  8. 1 2 A. W. Purdue, ‘William Frederick, Prince, second duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh (1776–1834)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edn, May 2009.
  9. Complete Peerage, "Duke of Gloucester"
  10. The Peerage — William Frederick Hanover, 2nd Duke of Gloucester. Retrieved on 2012-07-15.
  11. Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family. Retrieved on 2012-07-15.
Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Cadet branch of the House of Welf
Born: 15 January 1776 Died: 30 November 1834
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Ralph Abercromby
Colonel of the 6th (1st Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
George Nugent
Preceded by
The Duke of Argyll
Colonel of the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards
Succeeded by
The Duke of Gordon
Preceded by
Sir William Keppel
Governor of Portsmouth
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas McMahon, Bt
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Prince William Henry
Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
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