Princess Henrietta Plantagenet (1918-1930) was the youngest daughter of Victor Albert, Duke of Kent and Rothesay, born nine days after her father's death. As such, she was raised in the household of her grandfather, James V of England and Scotland (1865-1936). He was a stern man made all the sterner by the First Great War who suddenly in late middle age with five children to care for, two of them girls with whom he felt little connection.
Henrietta was a precocious child, but one who began to develop symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder much to the family's chagrin. One symptom of this was an increasing insistence on counting fruit with which she came into contact. Her eldest brother Edward was very protective of her, and this was a major cause of tension between the King and his heir.
At age twelve, Henrietta died in an accidental fall which broke her neck. Prince Edward was away from home at the time, accompanying the King to cricket match. The then-sixteen-year-old prince was inconsolable.
Some urban legends have arisen about the "Sad Princess," as she is sometimes called. One is that she was epileptic or suffered from leprosy, or perhaps a form of dementia. Another holds that she was the victim of a royally ordered euthenasia, or that Prince Edward was the only one of the English royal family who cared for or spent much time with her. None of these are true, although it cannot be denied that she was kept in the background of the royal family in terms of publicity. However, it is likely her age was also a factor in this.
In 1979, a motion picture titled Princess in the Tower was released in the NAL. It was a thinly veiled fictionalization of the life of Princess Henrietta, but with the conceit that instead of being mad she was a kind of natural medium, who saw clearly the ghosts who haunted the homes and palaces of the House of Plantagenet. The film ends with her death, and her now playing hide-and-seek with the so-called "Princes in the Tower" from the reign of Richard III.
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