Clarence, Albert Victor Christian Edward, duke of

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Clarence, Albert Victor Christian Edward, duke of (1864–92). Clarence was the first son of Edward, prince of Wales, and grandson of Queen Victoria. From the beginning, his health caused anxiety and he seems to have been congenitally handicapped: at the age of 5 he was described as ‘languid and listless’. At 13 he went to Dartmouth Naval College and was then sent on a long world cruise with his brother George. He spent some time at Trinity College, Cambridge, though one tutor described his faculties as ‘abnormally dormant’ and another remarked that ‘he hardly knows the meaning of the words to read’. The university obliged with an honorary degree. He was next placed in the army where the commander-in-chief reported that even elementary drill movements were beyond him. Known in the family as ‘Eddie’, he remained indolent and wayward and what vigour he did possess was devoted to sexual encounters of various kinds. ‘His education and future’, wrote his father in 1890, ‘has been a matter of considerable anxiety to us and the difficulty of rousing him is very great.’ Desperate remedies were suggested—even longer cruises or matrimony. In 1891 Princess Mary of Teck, his cousin, accepted him, but he died of pneumonia at Sandringham on 14 January 1892, a month before the wedding. In due course his younger brother married his fiancée and succeeded as George V. The more lurid stories connected him with the Ripper murders.

J. A. Cannon

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