Alfred, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
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|Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Duke of Saxony
15 October 1874|
Buckingham Palace, London
|Died||6 February 1899
Sanatorium Martinnsbrunn, Meran, Austria–Hungary
|Burial||Friedhof am Glockenberg, Coburg, German Empire|
|House||Saxe-Coburg and Gotha|
|Father||Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha|
|Mother||Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia|
Alfred, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Alfred Alexander William Ernest Albert; 15 October 1874 – 6 February 1899), was the only son and heir apparent of Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He died aged 24 under circumstances still not entirely clear.
His father was Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, second eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. His mother, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, was a daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine.
Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury, baptised the prince in the Lower Bow Room of Buckingham Palace on 23 November 1874. His godparents were the Queen of the United Kingdom, the Emperor of Russia (Alfred's maternal grandfather Alexander II, whose son Tsesarevich Alexander stood proxy for him), the German Emperor (for whom Alfred's paternal uncle Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn stood proxy), the German Crown Princess (Alfred's paternal aunt, for whom her sister Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein stood proxy), the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (his paternal grand-uncle, for whom Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein stood proxy), and the Prince of Wales (his paternal uncle).
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
In 1893, his granduncle, Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, brother of his paternal grandfather, died childless. Being ineligible under Duchy law to occupy the ducal throne due to his status as the heir apparent to an existing throne, the Prince of Wales had previously renounced his claim to the ducal throne of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Thus, the duchy devolved upon Alfred's father, who was at that time the Duke of Edinburgh. Alfred thus became Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Prince Alfred had lived in Clarence House in the early years of his life with his parents and sisters; after his father's accession to the ducal throne of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, he moved to Schloss Rosenau, near Coburg.
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On 28 January 1895, the Court Circular published the following: “We are informed that a marriage has been arranged between his Royal Highness Prince Alfred of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, only son of their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and grandson of Her Majesty, and Her Royal Highness the Duchess Elsa Matilda Marie, elder twin daughter of the late Duke William Eugene of Württemberg by his marriage with the Grand Duchess Vera of Russia.” The marriage never occurred.
The exact circumstances of Alfred's death are not known, and varying accounts have been published. His sister Marie's memoirs simply say his health "broke down", and other writers have said that he had "consumption".:62 The Times published an account stating he had died of a tumor,:62 while the Complete Peerage gives the generally accepted account that he "shot himself". Various authors have speculated on reasons why he may have killed himself, and one author, Frank Bush, claimed to have been a descendant of a secret marriage between Alfred and Mabel Fitzgerald, granddaughter of the 4th Duke of Leinster, and claimed that friction between Alfred and his family over the "secret marriage" was the cause of the suicide.:176, fn. 2[a] Despite the lack of documentary evidence, and the lack of contemporary reference, other authors have repeated Bush's assertion that Alfred and Mabel married, including John van der Kiste and Bee Jordaan in Dearest Affie, and the assertion is repeated as fact in the official family history (Das Haus von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha).
According to theory, Alfred shot himself with a revolver while the rest of the family was gathered for the anniversary celebration. He survived and was looked after at Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha (Thuringia) for three days before being sent to the Martinnsbrunn Sanatorium in Gratsch near Meran in the County of Tyrol (Austria-Hungary, now Italy). Alfred died there at 4:15 pm on 6 February 1899, aged 24 years. He was buried in the ducal mausoleum of the Friedhof am Glockenberg, Coburg, Bavaria (southern Germany).:47
Later in 1899 Alfred's uncle the Duke of Connaught and his son Prince Arthur of Connaught renounced their succession rights to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. As a result, his first cousin Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany, became heir presumptive.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
- 15 October 1874 – 23 August 1893: His Royal Highness Prince Alfred of Edinburgh
- 23 August 1893 – 6 February 1899: His Royal Highness The Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony
As a male-line grandson of the British Sovereign, young Alfred bore the royal arms, with an inescutcheon of the shield of Saxony, all differenced by a label argent of five points, the odd bearing crosses gules and even anchors azure.
- Order of the Red Eagle, 1889
- Unfortunately for this theory, which was first published in the 1940s, and for Bush's claimed ancestry, there is no evidence Alfred and Mabel ever met; at the time of their alleged civil and religious marriages in 1898 (of which no records exist) Mabel was under 14 years old, and when Mabel contracted a documented marriage to William Clarke Hadoke in 1910 she is described as a spinster rather than a widow.:176, fn. 2
- Demoskoff, Yvonne (27 December 2005). "Christenings of the Royal Family". Yvonne's Royalty Home Page. users.uniserve.com. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
- Sandner, Harold (2004). "II.4.2 Erbprinz Alfred". Das Haus von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha 1826 bis 2001 (in German). Andreas, Prinz von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (preface). 96450 Coburg: Neue Presse GmbH. pp. 155–156. ISBN 3-00-008525-4.
- Eilers Koenig, Marlene A. (1997). Queen Victoria's Descendants. Falköping, Sweden: Rosvall Royal Books. ISBN 91-630-5964-9.
- Cokayne, George Edward (April 1982). The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, or Dormant. 5 (Reprint of 1982 ed.). Gloucester, England: Sutton Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 0-904387-82-8.
- Klüglein, Norbert (1991). Coburg Stadt und Land (German). Verkehrsverein Coburg.
- Velde, François R. (5 August 2013). "Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family: Houses of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha/Windsor/Windsor-Mountbatten (since 1837)". www.heraldica.org. Chicago: self-published. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
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