The Liberty Gazette
July 25, 2017Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: My sister the genealogist – every family needs one – informed me last month of the birthday of Edward VIII, King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire, and Emperor of India. His real name was Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David. I imagine his parents were either indecisive or grateful to many people. Actually, about half the name honors went to relatives and the other half to patron saints. He lived from June 23, 1894 to May 28, 1972 and was in Houston briefly for Dr. Michael DeBakey to operate on him.
My sister was the scholar in our family, and she obviously assumed I paid attention in some class that may have covered European royalty, as she wrote, “He’s the one who abdicated the throne to marry his lady love.”
Sure. I totally remember that. I really haven’t studied royalty much but she thought I should be interested. “Why am I telling you? Because he was the first monarch to be a qualified pilot! And he's our seventeenth cousin once removed. Raise a toast to cousin Edward!”
Not only did cousin Edward earn a private pilot license, he became the first monarch of the British Empire to fly in an aircraft when after his father’s death he flew from Sandringham to London for his Accession Council. He also created The King's Flight in 1936 to provide air transport for the Royal family's official duties.
Incidentally, his father, Edward VII, was known as Prince Albert before being crowned king. Tobacco king R. J. Reynolds personally named one of his products after Edward VII. The portrait of him as Prince Albert that graced the side of the tobacco tin was based on one Reynolds acquired at a tea party with Mark Twain. The favorite joke of kids in the 1930’s and 1940’s was to call a drug store and ask, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” When the person replied yes, the pranksters laughed, “Well you’d better let him out!”
My sis comes up with amazing finds in the history of our chromosomes, and had the former King Edward VIII actually been a decent fellow I’d be more impressed. It turns out, unfortunately, that his family accused him of being a Nazi sympathizer, and had a plethora of other complaints against him.
By contrast, Dutch King Willem-Alexander, who has been an airline pilot for twenty-one years, flying for KLM’s commuter, Cityhopper, and also for Martinair, is someone with whom I’d rather share DNA, were the choice up to me. To him, flying is relaxing because he knows he must leave his concerns on the ground. Unlike cousin Edward, King Willem-Alexander seems to appreciate the opportunity to serve as a responsible person to fly an airplane full of people. I read he was training to fly a Boeing 737 so he should be qualified as a First Officer by now. If you buy a ticket on a Dutch airline flying 737s see if you can catch a glimpse of who’s flying. You just may be escorted by royalty.