Employ of the Duke and Duchess of Kent
Because of his position in the household Fred would have become very close to his employers, seeing them on a daily basis. The nature of his job meant he lived in London and his mobile office, which was the Rolls Royce and other cars that were used by the Duke and Duchess for their royal duties, was based at Kensington Palace. He was present during a turbulent era of British politics, the Royal Abdication at the pinnacle of these events, but he was also still employed as the chauffeur of the Duke and Duchess of Kent when the family were hit by tragedy.
It was on August 25 1942 that a Mark 3 Short S.25 Sunderland took off from RAF Invergordon on the Cromarty Firth at 1305 GMT in foggy weather. Thirty-seven minutes later it veered off its flight plan track and crashed into the remote Eagle’s Rock. The official board of inquiry concluded that the plane crashed into the hillside due to an error of navigation. Fourteen of the fifteen man crew and passengers, including HRH The Duke of Kent were killed in the crash.
The Duke of Kent was the first member of the Royal Family to die on active military service for over 450 years and his remains were returned to London and buried at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, later interred in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore. The Duchess was left a widow at the age of 36 having only just given birth to a third child, Prince Michael. Prince Edward and Princess Alexandra were her other two children. The loss of her husband Prince George affected her deeply, but she soon began her royal duties again which in turn would have kept Freddie very busy.
When Princess Marina died suddenly in 1968 aged 61 she was mourned widely. Born in Greece she had carved out a royal role for herself in her adopted country and her passing prompted tributes saying she had beauty, grace and charm and was greatly admired and loved.
Fred Field couldn’t have wished for better employers and the fond memories of his time as a royal chauffeur is reflected in the accompanying photographs, some of which Peter Edwards reckons have never been published before. The photographer is unknown but the subject matter reflects a family very much in love with life and duty.
The Duke of Kent in 1938 with Freddie standing behind
Two charming pictures of the Duchess Of Kent and her daughter Princess Alexandra enjoying a spin on their bicycles
Fred Field, far right, takes a break from his chauffering duties at a Royal event. His Rolls Royce can just be seen