List of heirs to Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
In the redistribution of land among the Ernestine duchies that followed the death of the last Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg on 11 February 1825, the late Duke's nephew-in-law, Duke Ernst III of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, received Gotha, while he ceded Saalfeld to the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. On 12 November 1826 he thus became Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The duchies of Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Gotha remained in personal union until 1852, when a political union was effected.
Heir to Ernst I, 1826-1844
At the time of the personal union of the two duchies, the heir-apparent to the Duke was the elder of his two sons by Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg,
- the Hereditary Prince Ernst August Karl Johannes Leopold Alexander Eduard, who had been born in 1818.
Duke Ernst I died on 29 January 1844, and was succeeded by his eldest son, who became Ernst II.
Heirs to Ernst II, 1844-1893
The new Duke had married Princess Alexandrine of Baden in 1842, but did not yet have any sons. The heir-presumptive at his accession was therefore his younger brother
- Franz August Karl Albert Emmanuel. He had married in 1840 his first cousin Queen Victoria, and had been granted the style of Royal Highness in Britain, where he was known as "Prince Albert".
As Duke Ernst II's marriage continued to be childless, the prospect that the Duchy would pass to Albert or his son Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, resulting in a personal union with the crown of the United Kingdom, became increasingly likely. Accordingly, when Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Gotha were merged in 1852, the new constitution contained a provision that the Duchy would not pass to the British monarch or the British heir-apparent, but would pass to the next prince in line among the descendants of Prince Albert. When Prince Albert died on 14 December 1861, he was succeeded as heir-presumptive not by his eldest son, the Prince of Wales, but by his second son
Prince Alfred's elder brother the Prince of Wales married Princess Alexandra of Denmark on 10 March 1863. The following month, on 19 April, he made a renunciation on behalf of his future issue of succession rights to Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, providing that his line would not succeed until after the lines of his brothers Alfred, Arthur and Leopold. Had it not been for this renunciation, the Prince of Wales's eldest son Prince Albert Victor, as the next in line after the British heir-apparent, would have replaced his uncle Alfred as heir-presumptive at his birth on 8 January 1864. As it was, Prince Alfred remained as heir-presumptive to Ernst II until the latter's death on 22 August 1893, when he became reigning Duke.
Heirs to Alfred, 1893-1900
The heir-apparent at Duke Alfred's accession was his only son
- the Hereditary Prince Alfred Alexander Wilhelm Ernst Albert, who had been born in 1874.
Hereditary Prince Alfred died on 6 February 1899 three days after attempting suicide with a revolver. The heir-presumptive was now his uncle
The Duke of Connaught was a career officer in the British Army and did not wish to go and rule a German duchy. His only son Prince Arthur was also reluctant to succeed, which left the young Duke of Albany (only son of Prince Albert's youngest son Leopold who had died in 1884) as next in line. Prince Arthur was a year ahead of the Duke of Albany at Eton and reportedly threatened to beat his cousin if he did not accept the duchy. These changes were effected by a law of 15 July 1899, which made
- Leopold Charles Edward George Albert, Duke of Albany, the heir-presumptive.
On the death of Duke Alfred the next year on 30 July 1900, he was duly succeeded by his nephew, who became Duke Carl Eduard.
Heirs to Carl Eduard, 1900-1918
The law of 1899 which altered the succession in Duke Carl Eduard's favour contained a clause providing that after Carl Eduard and his issue the duchy would pass to the Duke of Connaught's only son and his issue, before going to the Prince of Wales's issue (who were placed last among the descendants of Prince Albert by the renunciation of 1863). At the start of Duke Carl Eduard's reign, then, the heir-presumptive was his elder cousin
- Arthur Frederick Patrick Albert, who was known as "Prince Arthur of Connaught".
Duke Carl Eduard married Princess Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein in 1905 and their son
- the Hereditary Prince Johann Leopold Wilhelm Albert Ferdinand, was born on 2 August 1906, heir-apparent from his birth.