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Nathan Tidridge

Prince Edward Augustus: Father of the Canadian Crown

The story of Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent (1767–1820) is a story of early Canada. The Duke of Kent was not only a keen observer but was also an active participant in the very genesis of our country. Canada’s maps are dotted with the name of the Duke (Prince Edward Island being the most obvious example) — making him one of the most honoured among our forgotten historical figures.On the second floor of Nova Scotia’s Government House, neatly tucked into a corner of the peach-coloured salon, is a portrait of His Royal Highness, Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent. To many this portrait may seem misplaced — the Duke died in 1820 as a seemingly obscure royal, the fifth child of King George III. However, this painting on the wall of Canada’s oldest vice-regal residence acts as a signpost in our history, and very much has a place in the Canadian historical narrative.The Crown is an institution that is able to echo the society in which it exists. Such reflection is accomplished not only through the personality of the monarch, but also its representatives, officials, and the many different people that come in contact with the institution on a day-to-day basis. In a constitutional monarchy, such as the one developing during the eighteenth century in Canada, it is not the Crown that shapes society. Rather, it is the society that shapes and continually redefines the Crown. When considered from this perspective, the Duke of Kent becomes an excellent study. In looking at him we are forced to expand our gaze to those who were part of the extended community that surrounded Edward.The Duke of Kent is as much a figure of Canadian history as his contemporaries Elizabeth and John Graves Simcoe, Sir John and Francis Wentworth, Sir John Johnson,… Read More