Royal News: Saturday 1 October 2016

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October 1916: Royalty and World War I

by Susan Flantzer

  • Major John Maclean Rolls, 2nd Baron Llangattock and Captain Percy Robert Herbert, Viscount Clive
  • Timeline: October 1, 1916 – October 31, 1916
  • A Note About German Titles
  • October 1916 – Royals/Nobles/Peers/Sons of Peers Who Died In Action

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During October of 1916, two British officers, one a peer and one the heir of a peer, died from wounds received in the terrible Battle of the Somme which lasted from July 1 – November 18, 1916. Both men were from families whose peerages had Welsh roots and both families suffered multiple tragedies.

Major John Maclean Rolls, 2nd Baron Llangattock

john rolls llangattock

Major John Maclean Rolls, 2nd Baron Llangattock; Photo Credit – http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk

Major John Maclean Rolls, 2nd Baron Llangattock was born in London, England on April 25, 1870. He was the eldest of the four children of John Rolls, 1st Baron Llangattock and Georgiana Marcia Maclean, the daughter of Sir Charles Maclean, 9th Baronet of Morvaren.  John Rolls, 1st Baron Llangattock was appointed High Sheriff of Monmouthshire in 1875 and served as Member of Parliament for Monmouthshire from 1880–1885. In 1892, he was created Baron Llangattock of The Hendre in the County of Monmouth. The family home, The Hendre, from the Welsh words hen (meaning “old”) and dre (meaning “farmstead”), was located in Llangattock-Vibon-Avel, Monmouthshire, Wales. It was originally built in the eighteenth century as a hunting lodge and was expanded by the Rolls family throughout the nineteenth century. Today it is the clubhouse of the Rolls of Monmouth Golf Club.

The Hendre, Monmouthshire, Wales; By KJP1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18135546

John Maclean Rolls, 2nd Baron Llangattock’s three younger siblings:

The most famous member of the family was the 2nd Baron’s youngest sibling, Charles Stewart Rolls, a motoring and aviation pioneer. In 1904, Charles Rolls and Henry Royce began a partnership that would result in the famous British car manufacturing company Rolls-Royce Limited. In late October – early November 1900, the 1st Baron Llangattock and his wife were hosts to TRH The Duke and Duchess of York (the future King George V and Queen Mary), who stayed at The Hendre. The Duke and Duchess were taken on motorcar excursions by Charles Rolls, probably the first time that the royal couple had been in a car. Unfortunately, on July 12, 1910, Charles Rolls died at the age of 32 when the tail of his Wright Flyer airplane broke off during a flying display. He has the first British person to be killed in an airplane accident.

Photograph of the Hon. C.S. Rolls’ autocar with HRH The Duke of York, Lord Llangattock (Rolls’ father), Sir Charles Cust and the Hon. C.S. Rolls as occupants”, taken by John Howard Preston; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

John Maclean Rolls, 2nd Baron Llangattock was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford where he received a BA in 1893, BCL (Bachelor of Civil Law) in 1895, and MA in 1896. He was called to the Bar in 1895, and admitted to the Inner Temple in 1896. John served for several years with the 1st Monmouth Volunteer Artillery, retiring with the rank of Captain and Honorary Major. He also served as High Sheriff of Monmouthshire in 1900 and Mayor of Monmouth in 1906 – 1907. John was a talented musician and was one of the finest amateur organists in Great Britain. In 1912, upon the death of his father, John became the 2nd Baron Llangattock.

Painting of John Maclean Rolls, 2nd Baron Llangattock in Monmouth Library, Wales; Credit – Wikipedia

In January of 1915, John joined the 4th Welsh Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.  He attained the rank of Major and served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders during World War I. He was wounded while on observation duty during the Battle of the Somme, and died on October 31, 1916 at the age of 46 at the military hospital in Boulogne, France. John was buried at the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery in France.  A former commanding officer wrote: “He could have accepted less dangerous work, but he and his battery had done so well in the training that, having been selected as the 1st Battery in the Division for efficiency, he felt it his duty to go out with the battery. The country, county and brigade have lost in Major Lord Llangattock a well-tried and sincere friend.”

Only a few months before, on June 26, 1916, John’s brother Henry Allan Rolls, a Lieutenant in the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers, had died due to wounds received in World War I. As John never married and his two brothers predeceased him, the title Baron Llangattock became extinct upon his death.

Boulougne Cemetery

Boulogne Eastern Cemetery in France; Photo Credit – http://www.cwgc.org

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Captain Percy Robert Herbert, Viscount Clive

Viscount Clive

Captain Percy Robert Herbert, Viscount Clive and his parents; Photo Credit – https://www.1418now.org.uk/

Captain Percy Robert Herbert, Viscount Clive, born on December 2, 1892, was the eldest of the three children of George Charles Herbert, 4th Earl of Powis and Violet Ida Eveline Sackville Lane-Fox, 16th Baroness Darcy de Knayth in her own right.  As the eldest son and heir of the 4th Earl of Powis, Percy used his father’s subsidiary title Viscount Clive as a courtesy title. The seat of the Earl of Powis was the medieval Powis Castle near Welshpool, in Powys, Wales. One of the family ancestors was Major-General Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, Commander-in-Chief of British India who established the military and political supremacy of the East India Company in Bengal, India.

Percy had a younger sister and brother:

Percy was educated at Eton College, where he developed a passion for cricket. He then attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.  In October of 1913, he joined the Scots Guards, part of the Guards Division, and one of the Foot Guards regiments of the British Army. At the beginning of World War I, Percy was in France fighting against the onrush of German troops on Paris and Calais. Shortly before Christmas of 1914, he was invalided home suffering from frostbitten feet. Upon his recovery, Percy was the thirteenth officer commissioned into the newly formed Welsh Guards in 1915.

Percy Herbert-powiscastle-96

A portrait of Percy on a desk in a room at Powis Castle; Photo Credit – www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Percy was shot in the thigh which fractured the femur, the bone in the thigh, at the Battle of Flers-Courcellette, part of the Battle of the Somme on September 25, 1916. His family arranged for him to come home to England for treatment, and he arrived at Southampton on September 28, 1916. He was taken to King Edward VII Hospital in London, England. The following day an operation was performed to remove the bullet. However, sepsis (blood poisoning) and a serious hemorrhage from a main artery occurred and Percy Herbert, Viscount Clive died on October 13, 1916, at age 23, 18 days after being wounded. He was buried in the churchyard at Christ Church in Welshpool, Wales within sight of Powis Castle.

Upon Percy’s death, his brother Mervyn became the heir and used the courtesy style Viscount Clive. In 1929, Percy’s mother died in a car accident and she was also buried in the churchyard at Christ Church. She had been the 16th Baroness Darcy de Knayth in her own right and her surviving son Mervyn succeeded to her title while retaining the higher title of Viscount Clive by courtesy. Mervyn who was 12 years younger than Percy, enlisted in the Royal Air Force at the start of World War II in 1939.  Sadly, Mervyn also was killed in action while flying with the No. 157 Squadron RAF, a night fighter squadron. He was also buried in the churchyard at Christ Church, and his only child, four-year-old Davina, became the 18th Baroness Darcy de Knayth as females had succession rights to the peerage. Percy’s father, George Charles Herbert, 4th Earl of Powis, died in 1952 at the age of 90. As he had no surviving sons and no grandsons, his cousin Edward Robert Henry Herbert, became the 5th Earl of Powis.

Christ Church Welshpool

Aerial view of Christ Church and the graveyard in Welshpool; Photo Credit – http://christchurchwelshpool.blogspot.com/2014/05/christ-church-from-air.html

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Timeline: October 1, 1916 – October 31, 1916

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A Note About German Titles

Many German royals and nobles died in World War I. The German Empire consisted of 27 constituent states, most of them ruled by royal families. Scroll down to German Empire here to see what constituent states made up the German Empire.  The constituent states retained their own governments, but had limited sovereignty. Some had their own armies, but the military forces of the smaller ones were put under Prussian control. In wartime, armies of all the constituent states would be controlled by the Prussian Army and the combined forces were known as the Imperial German Army.  German titles may be used in Royals Who Died In Action below. Refer to Unofficial Royalty: Glossary of German Noble and Royal Titles.

24 British peers were also killed in World War I and they will be included in the list of those who died in action. In addition, more than 100 sons of peers also lost their lives, and those that can be verified will also be included.

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October 1916 – Royals/Nobles/Peers/Sons of Peers Who Died In Action

The list is in chronological order and does contain some who would be considered noble instead of royal. The links in the last bullet for each person is that person’s genealogical information from Leo’s Genealogics Website or to The Peerage website.  If a person has a Wikipedia page, their name will be linked to that page.

Captain Percy Robert Herbert, Viscount Clive

Major John Maclean Rolls, 2nd Baron Llangattock

October 1: Today in Royal History

Charlotte of Prussia, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen, Photo Credit – Wikipedia

October 1, 959 – Death of Eadwig, King of the English at Gloucester, England, buried in Winchester Cathedral in England
Wikipedia: King Eadwig of the English

October 1, 1207 – Birth of King Henry III of England at Winchester Castle in England
Unofficial Royalty: King Henry III of England

October 1, 1361 – Death of Margaret, daughter of King Edward III of England, buried at Abingdon Abbey in Oxfordshire, England
Wikipedia: Margaret, Countess of Pembroke

October 1, 1553 – Coronation of Queen Mary I of England
Unofficial Royalty: Queen Mary I of England

October 1, 1791 – Wedding of King Willem I of the Netherlands and Wilhelmine of Prussia
Unofficial Royalty: Wilhelmine of Prussia
Unofficial Royalty: King Willem I of the Netherlands

October 1, 1868 – Death of Mongkut, King Rama IV of Siam (Thailand) at the Grand Palace in Krung Thep, Siam
Wikipedia: Mongkut, King of Siam

October 1, 1919 – Death of Charlotte of Prussia, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen, at Baden-Baden, Germany
Charlotte was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and the daughter of Victoria, Princess Royal and Kaiser Frederick III of Germany.  She married her second cousin Bernhard III, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen.
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Charlotte of Prussia

October 1, 1969 – Birth of Prince Nikolaos of Greece, son of King Constantine II of Greece, in Rome, Italy
Wikipedia: Prince Nikolaos of Greece

Royal News: Friday 30 September 2016

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Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, Duchess of Teck

by Susan Flantzer

Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge was a male-line grandchild of King George III, a first cousin of Queen Victoria, and the mother of Mary of Teck, wife of King George V. Through her daughter Mary (known as May), Mary Adelaide is the great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II and an ancestor of the members of the House of Windsor. Princess Mary Adelaide, the youngest of the three children of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge (the seventh son and tenth child of King George III and Queen Charlotte) and Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel. She was born on November 27, 1833 at Cambridge House in the Kingdom of Hanover where her father served as Viceroy of Hanover for his brothers King George IV and King William IV, who were also Kings of Hanover.

The infant princess was christened on January 9, 1834 at Cambridge House in Hanover by Reverend John Ryle Wood, chaplain to her father. She was named Mary Adelaide Wilhelmina Elizabeth for her godparents. Her godparents were:

Mary Adelaide had an older brother and an older sister:

Upon the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, Mary Adelaide’s family returned to England. Because Hanover followed the Salic Law which allows only male succession through the male line, Queen Victoria could not become Hanover’s monarch and the Kingdom of Hanover separated from the British crown. Queen Victoria’s eldest surviving paternal uncle, Prince Ernest Augustus, became King of Hanover, and he moved to his new kingdom.

In 1838, the Duke of Cambridge’s family made their permanent residence at Cambridge Cottage in Kew Gardens. It had been purchased from John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute who had helped Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the Dowager Princess of Wales (mother of King George III) create Kew Gardens.  In 1806, King George III settled the Cambridge Cottage on his youngest surviving son Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge.  From 1839 – 1843, Cambridge Cottage was remodeled and extended to form the building it is today.

In 1850, Mary Adelaide’s father, Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, died. By this time both of Mary Adelaide’s siblings, who were much older, had married. The Duchess of Cambridge continued to live at Cambridge Cottage with Mary Adelaide. When the Duchess died in 1889, her son George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge, moved into the Cottage with his wife, and lived there until his own death in 1904. He had no legitimate male heirs so the title Duke of Cambridge became extinct and King Edward VII presented Cambridge Cottage to Kew Gardens. Today Cambridge Cottage is used for weddings and other events.

Cambridge cottage from Kinloch-Cooke 1900 2

Cambridge Cottage; Photo Credit – www.regencyhistory.net

In 1851, 17-year-old Mary Adelaide made her social debut at the official opening of the Great Exhibition which Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert had helped organize. Soon the Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Adelaide were enjoying the social events of London. They also gave receptions and parties at Cambridge Cottage and lived a genial and happy existence in contrast to the more formal atmosphere of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. For the next fifteen years, Mary Adelaide and her mother led a very active social life.

Princess Augusta Wilhelmina Louisa, Duchess of Cambridge; Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck by Camille Silvy, albumen carte-de-visite, 9 October 1860 NPG Ax46799 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Princess Mary Adelaide weighed approximately 250 pounds and was affectionately known as “Fat Mary.” Her first cousin Queen Victoria wrote of her, “Her size is fearful. It is really a misfortune.” Because of her large size, many members of her family considered her unmarriageable. Mary Adelaide, however, was high-spirited and full of life and was adored by the Victorian public who called her “The People’s Princess.” After failed marriage prospects with Prince Oscar of Sweden (the future King Oscar II of Sweden) and others, eventually, a suitable candidate was found in Württemberg, Prince Francis of Teck.

His Serene Highness Prince Francis of Teck, was the product of a morganatic marriage. Prince Francis’ father, Duke Alexander of Württemberg, was once heir to the throne of Württemberg. However, Duke Alexander contracted a morganatic marriage (marriage to a person of a lower rank) to a Hungarian countess, Claudine Rhedey. Alexander lost his rights to the throne and his children lost the right to use the Württemberg name. Francis’ cousin King Karl of Württemberg eventually elevated him to the more important Germanic title of Duke of Teck. “Fat” Mary Adelaide (age 33) and genealogically-tainted Francis (age 29) married on June 12, 1866 at St. Anne’s Church in Kew in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

Mary Adelaide and Francis with their first child, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, 1867; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

The couple had four children:

During World War I in 1917, when British royals were anglicizing names and titles, Adolphus became the Marquess of Cambridge and Alexander became the Earl of Athlone. Both Adolphus and Alexander adopted the surname Cambridge.

Mary Adelaide with her children by Alexander Bassano, half-plate glass negative, circa 1884 NPG x96004 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Mary Adelaide and Francis had a happy marriage, but had chronic financial problems due to Mary Adelaide’s extravagance and generosity. Queen Victoria gave them an apartment at Kensington Palace where their four children were born. In 1883, the Tecks fled from their creditors to the European continent where it was cheaper to live. The family lived with various relatives in Europe, and eventually settled down in Florence, Italy. The Tecks returned from Italy in 1885 and continued to live at Kensington Palace and White Lodge in Richmond Park. Mary Adelaide devoted her life to charity, serving as the first royal patron of Barnardo’s, a charity still in existence, founded by Thomas Barnardo in 1866 to care for vulnerable children and young people. Barnardo’s has a long history of royal patrons and presidents including Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary (Mary Adelaide’s daughter), Queen Elizabeth II , Diana, Princess of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.

Mary Adelaide, circa 1880; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Princess Mary Adelaide wanted her daughter May to marry one of the sons of The Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII).  Prince Albert Victor, known as Prince Eddy, was the Prince of Wales’ eldest son and therefore, second in the line of succession. Eddy was backward and lazy. He was an apathetic student and received very little education. He was primarily interested in pursuing pleasure which often led him into trouble. His lack of concentrating on anything serious caused great concern in his family. Eddy’s family decided that finding a suitable wife might help correct his attitude and behavior. It was at this time that, unbeknownst to her, May was considered the most suitable bride for Eddy. Eddy offered no resistance to this suggestion. May had been brought up to revere the monarchy and to be proud that she was a member of the British Royal Family. The fact that May’s father was a product of a morganatic marriage could have presented difficulties for her in the marriage market. Despite the shortcomings Eddy might have, May felt it was her duty to marry him. The engagement was announced on December 6, 1891 and the wedding set for February 27, 1892.

In the midst of the wedding preparations, Eddy developed a high fever on January 7, 1892. Two days later, his lungs became inflamed and pneumonia was diagnosed. On the morning of January 14, 1892, Eddy died, surrounded by his parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, his brother George, his sisters Louise, Victoria and Maud, his fiancée May, and her mother the Duchess of Teck. Eddy’s funeral was held at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor and he is buried in the Albert Memorial Chapel, Windsor. May’s wedding bouquet of orange blossoms lay on his coffin.

After the death of Prince Eddy, May and Eddy’s brother George, who had replaced his brother as the second in the line of succession to the throne, spent much time together. As time passed and their common grief eased, there was hope that a marriage might take place between them. George proposed to May on April 29, 1893. The engagement was announced on May 3, 1893 with the blessing of Queen Victoria. May and George were married on July 6, 1893 at the Chapel Royal, St. James’ Palace in London.

George and May on their wedding day; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Mary Adelaide’s dream was fulfilled. Her only daughter would one day be Queen of the United Kingdom. After the marriage of her daughter, Mary Adelaide’s health declined. She dreadfully missed May. Queen Victoria wrote: “What Mary will do without May, I cannot think, for she is her right hand.” Mary Adelaide lived long enough to see May’s first three children: the future King Edward VIII, the future King George VI, and the future Mary, Princess Royal. She was a godmother of the future King Edward VIII and the future Mary, Princess Royal.

By the summer of 1896, Mary Adelaide’s health was worsening. In April of 1897, she had a serious emergency operation, but she made a quick recovery that allowed her to participate in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebration on June 22, 1897. On October 25, 1897, May noted in her diary, “Mama was not quite well.” The next day, the doctors decided that another emergency operation was necessary. Two hours after the operation was completed, Mary Adelaide died from heart failure at the age of 63. Mary Adelaide was buried in the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. Her husband Francis, Duke of Teck died on January 20, 1900 and was buried with his wife.

Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck, 3 July 1897; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge

Works Cited
2016, Barnardo’s. Barnardos links between Barnardo’s children charity and royalty. 2016. Web. 17 Aug. 2016.
Pope-Hennessy, James. Queen Mary. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1960. Print.
“Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 28 June 2016. Web. 17 Aug. 2016.
UnofficialRoyalty. Wedding of George V and Princess May of Teck. Unofficial Royalty, 16 Aug. 2016. Web. 17 Aug. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

September 30: Today in Royal History

Princess Charlotte of Monaco; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

September 30, 954 – Birth of King Louis IV of France
Wikipedia: King Louis IV of France

September 30, 1399 – King Richard II of England abdicates; Henry IV becomes King of England
Unofficial Royalty: King Richard II of England
Unofficial Royalty: King Henry IV of England

September 30, 1785 – Wedding of King Maximilian I of Bavaria and Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt
Augusta Wilhelmine died before her husband became King of Bavaria.
Unofficial Royalty: Maximilian I of Bavaria
Wikipedia: Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt

September 30, 1811 – Birth of Augusta of Saxe-Weimar and Eisenach, wife of Wilhelm I, German Emperor, in Weimar (Germany)
Wikipedia: Augusta of Saxe-Weimar

September 30, 1898 – Birth of Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois, daughter of Prince Louis II of Monaco and mother of Prince Rainier III of Monaco, in Constantine, French Algeria (Algeria)
Full name: Charlotte Louise Juliette
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois

September 30, 1972 – Birth of Ari Behn, husband of Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, in Århus, Denmark
Full name: Ari Mikael
In August 2016, it was announced that the couple have separated and will divorce.
Unofficial Royalty: Ari Behn

September 30, 1992 – Birth of Lady Marina-Charlotte Windsor, daughter of the Earl of St. Andrews and granddaughter of HRH The Duke of Kent, at the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge
Full name: Marina-Charlotte Alexandra Katharine Helen
Wikipedia: Lady Marina-Charlotte Windsor

Royal News: Thursday 29 September 2016

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September 29: Today in Royal History

Charlotte, Princess Royal, Queen of Württemberg; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

September 29, 1240 – Birth of Margaret of England, daughter of King Henry III of England at Windsor Castle
Wikipedia: Margaret of England

September 29, 1276 – Birth of King Christopher II of Denmark
Wikipedia: King Christopher II of Denmark

September 29, 1328 – Birth of Joan of Kent, wife of Edward the Black Prince, mother of King Richard II of England
Wikipedia: Joan of Kent

September 29, 1360 – Death of Joanna of Auvergne, wife of King John II of France, at Chateau d’Argilly in France; buried at Saint Denis Basilica near Paris
Wikipedia: Joanna of Auvergne

September 29, 1388 – Birth of Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence, son of King Henry IV of England
Wikipedia: Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence

September 29, 1560 – Death of King Gustav I of Sweden at Stockholm Palace; buried at Uppsala Cathedral
Wikipedia: King Gustav I of Sweden

September 29, 1766 – Birth of Charlotte, Princess Royal, daughter of King George III of the United Kingdom, at Buckingham Palace
Full name: Charlotte Augusta Matilda
Unofficial Royalty: Charlotte, Princess Royal, Queen of Württemberg

September 29, 1773 – Wedding of Tsar Paul I of Russia and Wilhelmina of Hesse-Darmstadt
Wikipedia: Paul I of Russia
Wikipedia: Wilhelmina of Hesse-Darmstadt

September 29, 1833 – Death of King Ferdinand VII of Spain in Madrid, Spain; buried at the Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real in El Escorial, Spain
Unofficial Royalty: King Ferdinand VII of Spain

September 29, 1853 – Birth of Princess Thyra of Denmark, daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark at the Yellow Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Thyra of Denmark

September 29, 1898 – Death of Louise of Hesse-Kassel, wife of King Christian IX of Denmark, at Bernstorff Castle in Gentofte, Copenhagen, Denmark; buried at Roskilde Cathedral in Roskilde, Denmark
Unofficial Royalty: Louise of Hesse-Kassel, Queen of Denmark

September 29, 2006 – Wedding of Prince Louis of Luxembourg and Tessy Antony at the parish church in Gilsdorf, Luxembourg
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Louis of Luxembourg
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Tessy of Luxembourg

September 29, 2008 – Emma Tallulah Behn, daughter of Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, at the family home in Lommedalen, Norway
Unofficial Royalty: Emma Tallulah Behn (scroll down)

Royal News: Wednesday 28 September 2016

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Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge

by Susan Flantzer

Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Prince George, Duke of Cambridge was a male line grandson of King George III, a first cousin of Queen Victoria, and the maternal uncle of Mary of Teck, the wife of King George V. In addition, he made a marriage in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772. George was born on March 26, 1819 at Cambridge House in the Kingdom of Hanover where his father was serving as Viceroy of Hanover. He was the only son and the eldest of the three children of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge and Augusta of Hesse-Kassel. Prince George was born amidst the race for an heir to the British throne in the third generation. The death of Princess Charlotte of Wales in childbirth in 1817 left King George III without any legitimate grandchildren. Prince George was born two months before the eventual heir, Alexandrina Victoria (Queen Victoria), who was ahead of her cousin in the line of succession by being the child of King George III’s fourth son. George was the son of King George III’s seventh son. The baby prince was christened George William Frederick Charles on May 11, 1819 at Cambridge House in Hanover by Reverend John Stanford, chaplain to his father. His godparents were:

George had two younger sisters:

  • Princess Augusta of Cambridge, Grand Duchess of Mecklenberg-Strelitz (1822 – 1916), married Friedrich Wilhelm, Grand Duke of Mecklenberg-Strelitz, had issue
  • Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, Duchess of Teck (1833 – 1897), married Francis, Duke of Teck, had issue, including Mary of Teck, wife of King George V of the United Kingdom
by Camille Silvy, albumen carte-de-visite, 9 October 1860

(George’s mother and youngest sister) Princess Augusta Wilhelmina Louisa, Duchess of Cambridge; Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck by Camille Silvy, albumen carte-de-visite, 9 October 1860 NPG Ax46799 © National Portrait Gallery, London

George received his early education from tutors in Hanover, and then beginning in 1830, from Reverand J. R. Wood, a canon of Worcester Cathedral. Like his father, George had a career in the army, starting as a colonel in the Hanoverian army when he was 18 years old, and then as a brevet colonel in the British army. George saw action in the Crimean War (1853-1856) and participated in the Battle of the Alma, Battle of Balaclava, Battle of Inkerman, and at the Siege of Sevastopol.

He held the following positions in the British army:

  • 1842–1852: Colonel of the 17th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Lancers)
  • 1852–1861: Colonel of the Scots Fusilier Guards
  • 1856–1895: Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
  • 1861–1904: Colonel of the Grenadier Guards
  • 1856: Promoted to General
  • 1862: Promoted to Field Marshal

As Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, George took a traditional view and was very reluctant to changing promotions from being based on social position to being based on merit. The armies of Germany and France were prodigious in the amount of military research and writing they produced, while the British army did very little. As a result, the British Army was not progressing and advancing as were other European armies. George did institute some reforms: establishment of the Staff College and the Royal Military School of Music, promotion of a plan of annual military maneuvers, and a restriction of corporal punishment. Following the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), Prime Minister William Gladstone and Secretary of State for War Edward Cardwell called for major reforms in the British Army. A number of reforms were instituted, many of which George was against. This disagreement occurred over a long period, and George resisted pressure to resign for several years until Queen Victoria advised him to resign his position as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in 1895.

George in 1855; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

In 1840, George met an actress, Sarah Louisa Fairbrother, known as Louisa, born in 1816 in London, and the daughter of a servant. In 1832, despite her parents’ opposition, Louisa started an acting career at the Drury Lane Theater in London and developed a reputation as a pantomime actress. She also appeared in plays at the Lyceum, Royal Opera House and Covent Garden Theatre, all in London. In 1839, Louisa gave birth to a son Charles Manners Sutton Fairbrother, who was probably the son of Charles Manners-Sutton, 2nd Viscount Canterbury.

It is known that Louisa and George first met on February 10, 1840, the wedding day of his first cousin Queen Victoria, because George recorded the meeting in his diary. George had been considered by Victoria’s predecessor King William IV as a potential husband for his niece, but instead, Victoria married another first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. In 1841, Louisa gave birth to a daughter Louisa Catherine, It is thought that Louisa Catherine was the daughter of an army officer Thomas Bernard of Castle Bernard, in Kinnitty, County Offaly, Ireland. However, Louisa Catherine used the name FitzGeorge at her marriage and was present at George’s death. Louisa definitely gave birth to two sons of George in 1843 and 1847. While pregnant with her second son, Louisa married George on January 8, 1847 at St. John Clerkenwell in London.

by Richard James Lane, printed by JÈrÈmie Graf, published by John Mitchell, after Alfred Edward Chalon, lithograph, published December 1839

Louisa Fairbrother (‘Mrs FitzGeorge’) as Columbine by Richard James Lane, printed by Jérémie Graf, published by John Mitchell, after Alfred Edward Chalon, lithograph, published December 1839 NPG D22385 © National Portrait Gallery, London

In 1772, the Royal Marriages Act was passed because two brothers of King George III had made marriages that the King considered very unsuitable. The Royal Marriages Act said that no descendant of King George II, other than the issue of princesses who had married into foreign families, could marry without the consent of the sovereign. In addition, any member of the Royal Family over the age of 25 who had been refused the sovereign’s consent could marry one year after giving notice to the Privy Council of their intention to marry unless both houses of Parliament declared their disapproval. Any marriage in contravention of the act was void, and any children would be illegitimate and not have any succession rights. A member of the Royal Family who contracted such a marriage would not lose his or her place in the succession. George and Louisa’s marriage was in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act, any children born of the marriage would be considered illegitimate, and Louisa would be unable to be styled and titled as befitted the wife of George. Instead, Louisa was first known as Mrs. Fairbrother and later as Mrs. FitzGeorge, and Louisa’s existence was ignored by Queen Victoria. In 1850, George’s father died and George became the 2nd Duke of Cambridge.

Sarah Louisa Fairbrother as Abdullah in Open Sesame, staged in 1844; Credit – Wikipedia

George and Louisa’s three sons:

George provided Louisa and her children with a house at 6 Queen Street in the Mayfair section of London, which was close to where George lived at Gloucester House in the Piccadilly section of London. However, George continued to have affairs. Louisa died at her Queen Street home on January 12, 1890 at the age of 73. She was buried in the mausoleum that George had built for them at Kensal Green Cemetery in Kensal Green, London, England.

Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, 1883; Credit – Wikipedia

George’s health began to fail as he grew older. He had hearing loss and his strength and physical stamina diminished. George attended the funeral of his cousin Queen Victoria in 1901, but had to ride in a carriage instead of ride on a horse as he wished. On March 17, 1904, Prince George, Duke of Cambridge died at his home, Gloucester House at the age of 84. After a funeral service at Westminster Abbey on March 22, 1904, George was buried next to Louisa in the mausoleum at Kensal Green Cemetery. Because George’s sons were illegitimate, his title Duke of Cambridge became extinct. 107 years later, the title Duke of Cambridge was created for Prince William, his father’s great great great great grandson, on the occasion of William’s wedding.

Duke of Cambridge’s mausoleum; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Wikipedia: Prince George, Duke of Cambridge

Works Cited
“Prince George, Duke of Cambridge.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 21 July 2016. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.
“Sarah Louisa Fairbrother.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 28 May 2016. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.