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Prince Frederick, Duke of York

Frederick Augustus, Duke of York (August 16, 1763 - January 5, 1827) was the second son of King George III of the United Kingdom and was himself, for a time, heir to the throne of his elder brother, King George IV. He is now mainly remembered as the inspiration for the nursery rhyme, "The Grand Old Duke of York".

Frederick was born in London, either at St James's Palace or Buckingham Palace to King George III and Queen Charlotte, thus making safe the succession. No one would have predicted that, of the seven healthy sons born to the couple, the first three would all fail to produce heirs and the throne would eventually pass to a woman (Queen Victoria).

Frederick was very much in the shadow of his elder brother, George, especially when the latter became Prince Regent. Frederick himself was created Duke of York at the age of twenty-one, and devoted himself to a military career. In 1791, he married Princess Frederica, daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia, but the couple had no children. His only known child was an illegitimate son, Charles, and even this is uncertain. His military failures led to his immortalisation in the rhyme:

The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men.
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.

However, he carried out many reforms in the army which would lead to subsequent successes in the Napoleonic Wars. He resigned as commander-in-chief of the army in 1809 as a result of a scandal caused by the activities of his mistress, Mary Anne Clarke. He later returned to the post.

Following the death of Princess Charlotte Augusta in 1817, the Duke was second in line to the throne, but he pre-deceased his elder brother, dying at a house in Arlington Street, London. He was buried at Windsor.



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