Author Topic: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)  (Read 64265 times)

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Cambria_Coheed

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Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« on: October 20, 2007, 04:50:08 PM »
I was just looking and I saw that there wasnt a thread on this little lost prince....other then the threads about the movie based on his life, so i thought i would start one on him.















Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2007, 10:41:45 PM »
Contrary to what was  portrayed in the movie, he wasn't 'lost' at all or unknown to the British public. He was photographed regularly for a large part of  his life, attended events that were age-appropriate until his health prevented even those and was a well-loved member of his family. While his full condition might not have been known, it was reported in the press at the time that he was subject to epileptic fits (that were becoming 'more frequent and more severe') and which necessitated a quieter, less public life than that of his older siblings. His obituary was very forthcoming about his condition and its duration. His death garnered widespread sympathy for the royal family and his funeral was a quiet one. His death was almost 28 years to the day after Prince Eddy's (also at Sandringham), 19 years after that of Queen Mary's favorite brother Frank and came just weeks before the wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught.

One of my favorite anecdotes (I think from Pope-Hennessey's bio on Queen Mary) recorded that when George V returned from a day out riding (or hunting, I can't recall), he gave his wife a kiss. Prince John said 'She kissed Papa, ugly old man!'.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2007, 10:44:15 PM by grandduchessella »
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Cambria_Coheed

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2007, 10:59:12 PM »
yea the movie seemed a little over board with the whole keeping him locked up thing.
Now i heard that he may have had Aspergers syndrome....is this true?

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2007, 11:09:15 PM »
The book, Letters from a Prince, contained letters that David wrote to his lover, Freda Dudley Ward. In them, he displayed a callous attitude towards his brother's death (and apparently that of the Czar and his family, though I haven't read the book) that greatly hurt his mother. He not only referred to John as little better than an 'animal' and bemoaned his death cancelling his upcoming semi-state visit to Paris but also wrote (on the day of John's funeral no less) that, 'of course my little brother's death plunges me into mourning; don't think me very cold-hearted, sweetheart, but I've told you all about that little brother, darling, & how he was an epileptic & might have gone West any day!! He's been practically shut up for the last 2 years anyhow, so no one has ever seen him except the family & then only once or twice a year & his death is the greatest relief imaginable & what we've always silently prayed for; but to be plunged into mourning for this is the limit just as the war is over which cuts parties etc. right out!!'. His attitude so hurt his mother that he was forced to go to her and apologise--he was also incorrect, based on other evidence, that the family saw him so little and that they'd always 'silently prayed' for it--though Queen Mary did record in her diary that she hoped his soul was at last at peace, his seizures becoming more frequent and severe in recent years. "Lalla Bill telephoned from Wood Farm, Wolferton, that our poor darling Johnnie had passed away suddenly after one of his attacks. The news gave me a great shock, though for the little boy's restless soul, death came as a great release. I brought the news to George & we motored down to Wood Farm. Found poor Lalla very resigned but heartbroken. Little Johnnie looked very peaceful lying there ... For him it is a great release as his malady was becoming worse as he grew older and he has thus been spared much suffering. I cannot say how grateful we feel to God for having taken him in such a peaceful way, he just slept quietly... no pain, no struggle, just peace for the poor little troubled spirit, which had been a great anxiety for us for many years ever since he was four."
« Last Edit: October 20, 2007, 11:17:44 PM by grandduchessella »
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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2007, 11:13:08 PM »
Some of Prince John's letters (preserved in the Royal Archives) to his father:

February 1916
Dear Papa,
I'm sending you a box of snowdrops for you which I have picked… these two daisies I have picked out of my garden.

May 1918
My dear papa,
I'm sending you in a box some lilies out of Wolferton Woods…The garden is very nice here… I am very busy here. Best love from your devoted son, Johnnie.

Charlotte Zeepvatt records that the letters "give us our first glimpse of the real boy and it is immediately obvious from them that John was capable of coherent thought and expression (many versions of his story would have it otherwise) and was interested in the world around him. His garden featured strongly in The Lost Prince and existed in fact, one of the great pleasures of his life. Incidentally also, the archive numbering of these documents, 103 and 313, suggest that he wrote a lot of letters. Two other quotations, from May and June 1913, mention a companion; 'Ernest often goes out with me…', 'Ernest and I go to the fields on Sundays'. According to Poliakoff, the letters also show that John was very interested in the wider family and often mentions his uncles, aunts and cousins. "

Also that, in 1998 when his story garnered some interest: "The first was a letter, tucked away in the pages of The Daily Mail, which painted an unusually full picture of the Wood Farm household. The writer's mother had been upset by the tone of the publicity because her father, Thomas Haverly, was John's coachman at Wood Farm and she had lived with her parents and brother in an adjoining cottage. She knew there was no neglect there: knew, in fact, that John was happy and well-cared-for and the letter to the Mail summed up her memories. Thomas Haverly was a coachman from Windsor Castle, chosen to drive for John because he was known to be reliable. He took the Prince on outings in the country or to the sea, and to the 'big house' at Sandringham when any members of the family were in residence. Wood Farm also had its own cook, Kate Bennett, whose niece Hilda Simpson was the live-in maid. Kate's sister Alice ran a boarding house at Westgate but used to help at Wood Farm out of season and other domestic help came in from Wolferton as required. John had his nurse, as we know, and a tutor. An area of the garden was set aside for him with a plaque, 'Prince John's garden' and there were gardeners who helped him tend it. Indoors he had his books, the pedal car in which he has been photographed and a ride-on train. It all sounds rather idyllic and a great deal more appealing than his brother's existence at the Naval College. "

New information also came out when The Lost Prince came out: "The Times Weekend on Saturday 11 January including a long and interesting article, partly based on Poliakoff's research and partly on evidence provided by Anne Sharp, whose mother Winifred Thomas was chosen by Queen Mary to be John's companion and friend. This really does allow us a new insight into the 'hidden' life of Prince John. It has always been said that he was lonely at Wood Farm. Poliakoff quotes a letter written by Queen Alexandra, 'I found him playing football with Charlotte and the other ladies of his household! He is very proud of his house but is longing for a companion … he came rushing up to see me.'11 Well, he may have been lonely on this particular day for some reason, or have missed other boys, but he did have a companion. Winifred Thomas was an eight-year-old from Yorkshire who suffered from asthma and was sent to live in the country with her uncle and aunt. Her uncle, George Stratton, was the riding master at Sandringham. Soon after Winifred's arrival the Strattons received a visit from Queen Mary and Mrs Bill, who were looking for a friend for John. Winifred's delicacy probably recommended her to them and after the visit she played with the Prince almost every day. When he was ill she sat by his bed while Mrs Bill read to them. They went on nature walks together and worked in the garden. No date is given for Winifred's arrival but it must have happened long before the move to Wood Farm: among her memories as related by her daughter was a bicycle chase with Prince Olaf of Norway, and he would not have been in England during First World War. It is said in the article that she played with John for about six years; they were probably about the same age.
Winifred continued to be close to John during the war. She remembered his excitement at watching zeppelins passing over Sandringham in 1916 and his pleasure in meeting 'a real, live soldier', her father Sergeant Frederick Thomas who visited that same year. She also remembered his mother as a loving and interested parent who spent a lot of time with her son - another departure from the accepted view. "

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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2007, 11:15:20 PM »
Further from Zeepvat:

"written some days after John's death, 'Miss the dear child very much indeed' - a few words that encapsulate her grief and loss.12

Queen Mary's diary comments on her son's death are familiar and often quoted, but Poliakoff also highlights her description of the funeral.
Tuesday 21st 1919. Canon Dalton & Dr Brownhill conducted the service which was awfully sad and touching. Many of our own people and the villagers were present. We thanked all Johnnie's servants who have been so good and faithful to him.13 She was genuinely moved by their loyalty and went further than simply thanking them. Thomas Haverly's daughter was given John's blackboard, which in time passed on through her own family, and Winifred was given a number of his books with Queen Mary's own hand-written inscription, 'In memory of our dear little Prince.' She also treasured photographs of him, her own diary notes of their time together and letters. One of these, written by John to her uncle who had broken his arm in a riding accident, reads,

Dear Mr Stratton,
I hope your arm is better. Are you going to church? With my love from John - which again shows sympathy on the Prince's part and interest in the people around him. Given Poliakoff's twin themes, the life and death of the child and the simultaneous breakdown of the confident world into which he was born, this might have been an entirely tragic piece. The parallel would be so obvious: as the child's life is torn apart by illness the adult world loses control of events and is itself torn apart. "
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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2007, 11:38:55 PM »
Some quick facts:

He was born at York Cottage. John was baptised on August 3rd 1905 at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Sandringham. His godparents were King Carlos of Portugal, the Duke and Duchess of Sparta (both first cousins to George V), Princess Alexander of Teck (nee Princess Alice of Albany, first cousin to George V and sister-in-law to Queen Mary), King Haakon VII of Norway (cousin and brother-in-law to George), Prince Johann of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (brother of King Christian IX of Denmark and a favorite with his relations) and the Duke of Fife.
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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2007, 11:40:31 PM »
yea the movie seemed a little over board with the whole keeping him locked up thing.
Now i heard that he may have had Aspergers syndrome....is this true?


There is some modern though to this:

"Prince John was not blessed with good health, being blighted not only by epilepsy - he had his first epileptic seizure at age four - but also an autism-like development disorder, most likely Asperger's syndrome....While suffering from Asperger's syndrome was far from easy, it is often the way that sufferers show unique abilities as a by-product and the Prince was no different. He was quite capable of coherent thought and expression and showed particular interest in the world around him. By all accounts, John was said relate to the world in his own quirky and unique way; often the young boy would say things, perceptive, funny or imaginative, that people remembered long after. "
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Cambria_Coheed

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2007, 01:43:54 AM »
thanks for all the great information Grandduchessella....
I just really wanted to know more about him because i could relate to the both myself being both an epileptic and having Aspergers...
did it say which kind of seizures he suffered from? Grand or Petite?

Offline Grace

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2007, 02:16:21 AM »
thanks for all the great information Grandduchessella....
I just really wanted to know more about him because i could relate to the both myself being both an epileptic and having Aspergers...
did it say which kind of seizures he suffered from? Grand or Petite?

According to what I've read, he suffered from grand mal seizures - they were said to be violent and very severe.

Cambria_Coheed

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2007, 11:57:33 AM »
yes...yes they are...
 :-\

Offline Eddie_uk

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2007, 12:18:50 PM »
Thank you for all the interesting information Grandduchessella. I recall reading that Queen Alexandrs was heartbroken at Johnnys death. Apparently she would often send a car to fetch him and they would do jigsaws and listen to music together (very sweet!). She later wrote to Queen Mary ""now our two darling Johnnies lie side by side." and George V recorded in his diary "dear little Johnnie was laid in the churchyard next to brother John."  at the end of Sandringham Church which is cordoned off to the public.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2007, 12:22:24 PM by Eddieboy_uk »
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Offline Eddie_uk

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2007, 12:34:43 PM »
Found this tribute to Johnnie..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKdf4KKfeyo

The photo with his sister and mother at 2:56 is lovely.
Grief is the price we pay for love.

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Cambria_Coheed

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2007, 12:47:27 PM »
ha! i made that video!
i wish i could have done a better job though...it was pretty rushed :-\ :(

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Prince John/Johnnie (son of George V and Queen Mary)
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2007, 02:13:33 PM »
Thank you for all the interesting information Grandduchessella. I recall reading that Queen Alexandrs was heartbroken at Johnnys death. Apparently she would often send a car to fetch him and they would do jigsaws and listen to music together (very sweet!). She later wrote to Queen Mary ""now our two darling Johnnies lie side by side." and George V recorded in his diary "dear little Johnnie was laid in the churchyard next to brother John."  at the end of Sandringham Church which is cordoned off to the public.

I have a postcard of the church. The blown-up section shows the white cross where Alexander John is buried and John is next to him, I believe.



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