Queen Elizabeth’s Uncle – A Heartbreaking Existence

In our series ‘out of the closets of the royalty’, this is the story of Prince John of the U.K. and queen Elizabeth’s uncle who was banished to live in obscurity.

The youngest child of King George V and Queen Mary was born amid much pomp and grandeur and was named John. A most unlikely name since King John his ancestor was known for his cowardice, heartlessness and debauchery. This was the king who disgraced the name of the royalty while his brave brother Richard the Lionheart was away on crusade. The U.K. royalty has understandably generally kept away from the name John.

However, when Prince John was born, kings and queens wanted to be his godparents.

Alas, the prince was soon not to revel in admiration, love or affection.

By the age of four Prince John began showing signs of epilepsy and also what is today recognized as autism. So Johny as he was affectionately referred to by some, expeditiously became an outcast. After all, a prince with such afflictions did not make much of a family member to be showcased.

He was quickly moved to a country estate owned by the royal family in Sandringham and put under the care of a nanny. Since he was autistic in addition to being epileptic he was disobedient and considered an embarrassment to the royal family. While the royals made sure that he played with other children, only the children of the servants, and was presented sometimes during family occasions until age eleven, he generally lived his life in the dimness of the country estate. As a small compensation, his grandmother Queen Alexandra had a garden built especially for him. He was mostly kept at the Wood Farm at Sandringham and some records show he was seen as a tall, muscular and a distant figure.

It is said his mother visited him once in a while and his father, not at all.

He lived to just 13 years of age and died in 1919.

Some accounts suggest his mother was the only family member to attend his funeral and he was buried in the graveyard of the Church of St Mary Magdalene at Sandringham.

One of his brothers actually wrote “He was more of an animal than anything else” and considered it a mere nuisance what was the funeral of this unfortunate prince.

 Title Photo: Prince John of the United Kingdom / Autor: Ernest Brooks – Bibliothèque nationale de France, Volné dílo, Odkaz

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