Photograph Reveals Tragedy of Prince John

The Birmingham Post (England), February 12, 1998 | Go to article overview

Photograph Reveals Tragedy of Prince John


A photograph taken by the Duke of Windsor of his tragic brother John - thought to be the first informal picture of the prince to be seen in public - has emerged in Paris.

Photographs show the Duke relaxing with his brothers and sister in 1913 and 1914, and show the then heir to the throne as a keen photographer.

One snap is of a nine-year-old Prince John dressed in a sailor suit and riding his toy car.

But behind the picture is the sad tale of John's life as an epileptic. Together with other sufferers at the time, John was later kept apart from the family and died at 13.

The youngest of Queen Mary's five children, including the present Queen's father, he developed the illness at the age of four.

In 1917, he was moved to Wood Farm on the Sandringham estate with his nurse Lalla Bill.

Two years later, the nurse telephoned Queen Mary to say he had fallen asleep after a serious fit and could not be woken.

The Queen later wrote: "Little Johnnie looked very peaceful lying there." The death, she wrote, "came as a great release".

Although the young prince was kept away from visitors and housed separately from other members of the family, the King and Queen were not being cruel, the British Epileptic Association said yesterday. Spokeswoman Miss Sue Mitchell said: "There was nothing unusual in what they did. …

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