Royal News: Friday 22 May 2015

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Prince Alfred of Edinburgh, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

source: Wikipedia

Prince Alfred of Edinburgh, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Prince Alfred, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Alfred Alexander William Ernest Albert), was the eldest child and only son of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha – second son of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom – and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia – only daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Known within the family as ‘Young Affie’, he was born on October 15, 1874 at Buckingham Palace. At the time of his birth, he was styled HRH Prince Alfred of Edinburgh, as his father had not yet become Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

His christening was held November 27, 1874 in the Lower Bow Room at Buckingham Palace, with the following godparents:

Affie with his mother and sisters. source: Wikipedia

As it was expected he would one day inherit the ducal throne of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, young Affie was raised primarily in Germany. Separated from his family, he received a strict German education, and later served as a Lieutenant in the Prussian 1st Foot Guards in Potsdam. But, unlike many of his relatives, he did not enjoy the military life at all. It is believed that during this time he first contracted syphilis, which would later be a likely factor in his death.

In August 1893, his father succeeded to the ducal throne of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and young Alfred became the Hereditary Prince. Less than two years later, it was announced that Alfred was engaged to Duchess Elsa of Württemberg, but this marriage never took place.

In January 1899, he was noticeably absent from the celebrations for his parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. The details surrounding his death were never formally given, and vary from source to source. Some say he was suffering from a breakdown, others a tumor, others consumption. More than likely, he was suffering serious effects of the syphilis he had contracted some years earlier. It iis generally accepted that Prince Alfred shot himself while the rest of the family was gathered for the anniversary celebrations. Having survived the gunshot, he was cared for at Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha for several days, before being moved – against the doctors’ recommendation – to the Martinnsbrunn Sanatorium in Gratsch, near Meran, Austria (now Merano, Italy). This was apparently done at the direction of his mother who was both angry and embarrassed that this all happened while the whole family was gathered together.

Prince Alfred died at the sanatorium on February 6, 1899. He was just 24 years old. His remains were returned to Coburg, and buried in the Ducal Mausoleum at the Glockenburg Cemetery.

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May 22: Today in Royal History

Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

May 22, 1127 – Wedding of Empress Maud, daughter of King Henry I of England, and Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, at  Cathedral of Saint Julian of Le Mans in France
Maud and Geoffrey were the parents of King Henry II of England.
Wikipedia: Empress Maud
Wikipedia: Geoffrey V of Anjou

May 22, 1409 – Death of Blanche of England, daughter of King Henry IV of England, in Haguenau (now in France) buried at the Church of St Mary, Neustadt, Alsace (now in Germany)
Wikipedia: Blanche of England

May 22, 1455 – King Henry VI of England is taken prisoner by the Yorkists at the First Battle of St. Albans
Wikipedia: First Battle of St. Albans

May 22, 1667 – Death of Charles, Duke of Kendal, son of King James II of England; buried at Westminster Abbey
Charles was the third son and fifth child of James, Duke of York (later James II) and his first wife Anne Hyde.  He died at St. James’ Palace at age ten months.
Wikipedia: Charles, Duke of Kendal

May 22, 1770 – Birth of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King George III of the United Kingdom, at Buckingham Palace
Elizabeth was the third daughter and seventh child of George III and his wife Charlotte.  She married late in life at age 48 to Hereditary Prince Friedrich of Hesse-Homburg.  Her husband succeeded his father as Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg in 1820.
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom

May 22, 1782 – Death of Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt, wife of Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, in Hanover (Germany)
Friederike died in childbirth along with her 10th child.
Wikipedia: Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt

May 22, 1815 – Wedding of King Christian VIII of Denmark (second marriage) and Caroline Amelia of Schleswig-Holstein
Wikipedia: Christian VIII of Denmark
Wikipedia: Caroline Amelia of Schleswig-Holstein

May 22, 1823 – Wedding of King Oscar I of Sweden and Joséphine of Leuchtenberg at Leuchtenberg Palace in Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Unofficial Royalty: King Oscar I of Sweden
Unofficial Royalty: Joséphine of Leuchtenberg

May 22, 2004 – Wedding of King Felipe VI of Spain and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano at the Cathedral Santa María la Real de la Almudena in Madrid, Spain
BBC: Wedding bells for Spain’s royals
Unofficial Royalty: King Felipe VI of Spain
Unofficial Royalty: Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, Queen of Spain

Royal News: Thursday 21 May 2015

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May 21: Today in Royal History

Traditional site of King Henry VI of England’s murder in the Tower of London; Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer, August 2005

May 21, 1471 – Murder of King Henry VI in the Tower of London; buried at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
Wikipedia: Henry VI of England

May 21, 1481 – Death of King Christian I of Denmark at Copenhagen Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark; buried at Roskilde Cathedral in Roskilde, Denmark
Wikipedia: Christian I of Denmark

May 21, 1527 – Birth of King Philip II of Spain in Valladolid, Spain
Wikipedia: Philip II of Spain

May 21, 1662 – Wedding of King Charles II of England and Catherine of Braganza at St Thomas à Becket Church in Portsmouth, England
Wikipedia: Charles II of England
Unofficial Royalty: Catherine of Braganza

May 21, 1801 – Birth of Sophie of Sweden, wife of Leopold I, Grand Duke of Baden, in Stockholm, Sweden
Wikipedia: Sophie of Sweden

May 21, 1806 – Death of Maria Antonia of Naples and Sicily, first wife of King Ferdinand VII of Spain; buried at the Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real in El Escorial, Spain
Wikipedia: Maria Antonia of Naples and Sicily

May 21, 1864 – Birth of Stéphanie of Belgium, wife of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, at the Royal Palace of Laeken in Brussels, Belgium
Wikipedia: Stéphanie of Belgium

May 21, 1889 – Birth of Prince Leopold of Battenberg, grandson of Queen Victoria, at Windsor Castle
Full name: Leopold Arthur Louis
Leopold was the son of Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom and Prince Henry of Battenberg.  His mother was a hemophilia carrier and he inherited the disease from her.  Leopold never married and died following emergency surgery.
Unofficial Royalty: Lord Leopold Mountbatten

May 21, 1924 – Birth of Princess Marie-Adélaïde of Luxembourg, daughter of Grand Duchess Charlotte
Full name: Marie-Adélaïde Louise Thérèse Wilhelmine
Wikipedia: Princess Marie Adelaide of Luxembourg

May 21, 2013 – Death of Count Christian of Rosenborg
Full name: Christian Frederik Franz Knud Harald Carl Oluf Gustav Georg Erik
Christian was born Prince Christian of Denmark, younger son of Hereditary Prince Knud. He lost his royal title and style upon marriage to a commoner in 1971.
Unofficial Royalty: Count Christian of Rosenborg

Royal News: Wednesday 20 May 2015

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Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, Duchess of Edinburgh, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

source: Wikipedia

Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, Duchess of Edinburgh, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia was the wife of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the second son of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She was born on October 17, 1853 at Tsarskoye Selo, the only daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine. Marie had seven siblings:

Marie with her father and siblings, 1860. source: Wikipedia

Raised as the only daughter, Maria was very close with her father, who was completely devoted to her. She also had very close relationships with her brothers, but was not particularly close with her mother. Despite this, her mother’s death in 1880 was very difficult on Maria.

During a family holiday in Denmark in 1871, Marie met Prince Alfred. Despite the misgivings of both her parents and Alfred’s mother, the couple were married on January 23, 1874 at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. Upon their return to London, they took up residence at Clarence House in London, and Eastwell Park in Kent, which they leased until 1893. They had six children:

  • Prince Alfred “Affie”, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1874-1899) – unmarried, no issue
  • Princess Marie (1875-1938) – married King Ferdinand of Romania, had issue
  • Princess Victoria Melita (1876-1936) – married (1) Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine (divorced), had issue; (2) Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia, had issue
  • Princess Alexandra (1878-1942) – married Ernst II, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, had issue
  • stillborn son (1879)
  • Princess Beatrice (1884-1966) – married Infante Alfonso of Spain, Duke of Galliera, had issue

The Orthodox wedding of Maria and Alfred, painting by Nicholas Chevalier. source: Wikipedia

The new Duchess of Edinburgh was not well received by British society, many of whom though her very condescending and haughty. And from most accounts, this was very true. Used to the splendour and pageantry of the Russian court, she found the British court very dull by comparison. She also felt that, as the daughter of an Emperor, she should outrank all the other members of the British royal family – in particular, her sister-in-law, The Princess of Wales, who was merely the daughter of a king. Despite the demands of Marie and her father, Queen Victoria would not sanction anything of the sort.

In August 1893, her husband became the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha upon the death of his childless uncle, Ernst II. They had owned a home in Coburg – Palais Edinburg – since the early 1880s, but now took up permanent residence in Schloss Ehrenburg, the traditional ducal residence in the city. They also lived at Schloss Rosenau, which Ernst II had given to Alfred as his personal property. The new Grand Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Marie was very pleased with her new position, no longer outranked by her sisters-in-law, and no longer under the constant watchful eye of her mother-in-law. From that point on, she rarely spent any significant amount of time in Britain.

The Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha with their daughters, and the Dowager Duchess. source: Wikipedia

In 1899, Marie and Alfred celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. During the celebrations in January, their son, Affie, attempted suicide and died shortly thereafter. The following year, her husband died and the Ducal throne passed to his nephew, Charles Edward, Duke of Albany. Marie returned to Palais Edinburg, and also spent much of her time at Schloss Rosenau.

The remaining years of her life saw the overthrow of the Russian monarchy, the murders of many of her Russian relatives, and the end of the the Duchies of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Her last remaining brother, Grand Duke Paul, was murdered by the Bolsheviks in January 1919, leaving Marie the last of her generation.

The Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha died on October 24, 1920 in Zurich, Switzerland. Legend has it that she received a telegram addressed to ‘Frau Coburg’ which distressed her so greatly that it caused her death. She is buried alongside her husband in the Ducal Mausoleum at the Glockenburg Cemetery in Coburg.

Following her death, Palais Edinburg was left to her daughter, Princess Alexandra. The villa behind it, which had formed part of the residence, was left to her daughter Victoria Melita, and became known as the Kirill Palace. Both would eventually be sold to the government around 1940.

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May 20: Today in Royal History

Princess Taka of Japan and Takatsukasa Toshimichi; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

May 20, 1315 – Birth of Bonne of Luxembourg, first wife of King Jean II of France, in Prague, Bohemia (Czech Republic)
Wikipedia: Bonne of Luxembourg

May 20, 1875 – Death of Amalia of Oldenburg, wife of King Otto of Greece, at Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany; buried at the Theatine Church in Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Unofficial Royalty: Amalia of Oldenburg

May 20, 1910 – Funeral of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Windsor History: Funeral of Edward VII
Unofficial Royalty: Edward VII of the United Kingdom

May 20, 1950 – Wedding of Princess Taka of Japan and Takatsukasa Toshimichi
Princess Taka, who died in 1989, was a daughter of the late Emperor Hirohito and a sister of the present Emperor Akihito.
Wikipedia: Princess Taka
Wikipedia: Takatsukasa Toshimichi

May 20, 1967 – Birth of Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, son of King Constantine II of Greece, in Athens, Greece
Wikipedia: Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece

Royal News: Tuesday 19 May 2015

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May 19: Today in Royal History

Anne Boleyn; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

May 19, 1359 – Wedding of John of Gaunt, son of King Edward III of England, and Blanche of Lancaster at Reading Abbey in Berkshire, England
Wikipedia: John of Gaunt
Unofficial Royalty: Blanche of Lancaster

May 19, 1359 – Wedding of Margaret of Windsor, daughter of King Edward III of England, and John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, at Reading Abbey in Berkshire, England
Wikipedia: Margaret of Windsor
Wikipedia: John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke

May 19, 1536 – Execution of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII of England, in the Tower of London; buried at St. Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London
Wikipedia: Anne Boleyn

May 19, 1744 – Birth of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King George III of the United Kingdom, at Mirow, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Germany
Full name: Charlotte Sophia
Unofficial Royalty: Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

May 19, 1797 – Birth of Maria Isabel of Portugal, second wife of King Ferdinand VII of Spain at the Palace of Queluz in Portugal
Wikipedia: Maria Isabel of Portugal

May 19, 2001 – Wedding of Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands and Laurentien Brinkhorst at Grote of St Jacobskerk in The Hague, The Netherlands
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands
Unofficial Royalty: Laurentien Brinkhorst