Prince Charles of Prussia
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Prince Frederick Charles Alexander of Prussia (German: Friedrich Karl Alexander; 29 June 1801 – 21 January 1883) was a younger son of Frederick William III of Prussia. He served as a Prussian general for much of his adult life and became the first Herrenmeister (Grand Master) of the Order of Saint John after its restoration as a chivalric order. Nevertheless, he is perhaps remembered more often for his patronage of art and for his sizable collections of art and armor.
Charles was born in Charlottenburg Palace near Berlin, the third son of Frederick William III of Prussia by his wife Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He was named Frederick Charles Alexander at birth, but came to be known as Charles, because there were several other Fredericks in his family at that time. His father was already King of Prussia by the time of Charles' birth, and both of his elder brothers were to succeed to the throne, while his elder sister Charlotte would marry Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Charles also had two younger sisters, Alexandra and Louise, and a younger brother, Albert.
Prince Charles entered the Prussian army in 1811 at the age of ten, with the rank of lieutenant in a regiment of the guards. In 1819, he became a member of the Prussian Staatsrat. In 1820, he became a major in the First Regiment of Foot Guards. In 1822, he became colonel of the 12th Infantry Regiment. In 1824, he was promoted to major general. In 1830, he commanded the 2nd Guards Division. He was further promoted to lieutenant-general in 1832 and general of infantry in 1844. He served as Inspector-General (1848) and as Generalfeldzeugmeister and chief of the artillery (1854).
Marriage and issue
On 26 May 1827 in Charlottenburg, Charles married Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, a daughter of Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and his wife Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia. Two years later, in 1829, Marie's younger sister Augusta would marry Charles' older brother, Wilhelm, the future Kaiser.
Charles and Marie had three children together:
- Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia (1828–1885). Married Princess Maria Anna of Anhalt-Dessau; father of Louise Margaret, Duchess of Connaught and Strathearn.
- Princess Louise of Prussia (1829–1901). Married Alexis of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfel
- Princess Anna of Prussia (1836–1918). Married Friedrich Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel
The family lived in Wilhelmstrasse, opposite the residence of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. In possession of great wealth and a great art collector, his palace contained many art treasures. Charles was also a collector of rare weaponry, and carefully acquired and preserved knives, swords, daggers, rifles, pistols, and revolvers from many different countries and time periods. As a result of his vast collection, one source stated his palace was "one of the most famous repositories of bric-a-brac in Europe...his collection of arms and armor is believed to know no rival save in the great State armories at Turin and Vienna".
Marie died in January 1877, only five months before what would have been the golden jubilee of their wedding. Although they had married for family and dynastic reasons, their marriage had been happy and harmonious, and they had been deeply attached to each other. After her death, Charles aged rapidly, and gradually grew infirm from ailments typical of advancing age. In 1882, his foot slipped while he was getting up from the dinner table, causing him to fall down heavily and fracture his left thighbone. The fall and fracture accentuated his ailments, and it was reported that survival was unlikely. He died in Berlin a few months later, on 21 January 1883, aged 81. His last words were "Long live the Emperor."
At the time of his death, Charles was the only surviving brother of Emperor Wilhelm I. His death disrupted plans for the celebration of the silver wedding anniversary of his nephew, Crown Prince Frederick, as well as plans for a visit from the Prince and Princess of Wales to Berlin.
He received the following decorations and awards:
- German honours
- Kingdom of Prussia:
- Hohenzollern: Cross of Honour 1st Class with Swords, Princely House Order of Hohenzollern
- Kingdom of Hanover:
- Duchy of Anhalt: Grand Cross with Swords, Order of Albert the Bear
- Kingdom of Bavaria:
- Duchy of Brunswick: Grand Cross, Order of Henry the Lion
- Ernestine duchies: Grand Cross with Swords, Saxe-Ernestine House Order
- Electorate of Hesse: Knight of the Golden Lion
- Grand Duchy of Hesse:
- Grand Cross, Ludwig Order
- Military Merit Cross for 1870-71
- Oldenburg: Grand Cross with Collar and Gold Crown, House and Merit Order of Peter Frederick Louis
- Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach: Grand Cross with Swords, Order of the White Falcon
- Kingdom of Saxony:
- Schaumburg-Lippe: Military Merit Medal
- Foreign honours
- Austrian Empire:
- Belgium: Grand Cordon, Royal Order of Leopold I, 1853
- Denmark: Knight of the Elephant, 26 May 1853
- Second French Empire: Grand Cross, Legion d'Honneur
- Tunisia: Husainid House Order, with Diamonds
- Kingdom of Greece: Grand Cross, Order of the Redeemer
- Kingdom of Hawaii: Grand Cross, Royal Order of Kalākaua, 1881
- Monaco: Grand Cross, Order of Saint-Charles
- Ottoman Empire: Osmanieh Order, 1st Class with Diamonds
- Kingdom of Portugal: Grand Cross with Collar, Order of the Tower and Sword
- Russian Empire:
- Kingdom of Sardinia: Knight of the Annunciation
- Siam: Knight 1st Class, Order of the Crown of Siam
- Spain: Knight of the Golden Fleece, 1865
- Sweden-Norway: Knight of the Seraphim, 22 March 1873
- Two Sicilies: Grand Cross, Order of St. Ferdinand and Merit
- "Prince Charles of Prussia", The New York Times, Berlin, 19 June 1882
- "Kaiser William's Brother Dead", The New York Times, Berlin, 22 January 1883
- "Prince Charles of Prussia", The New York Times, 8 February 1883
- Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Preußen (1882-83), Genealogy p. 2
- "A Szent István Rend tagjai" Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- Le livre d'or de l'ordre de Léopold et de la croix de fer, Volume 1 /Ferdinand Veldekens
- Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 468. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
- The Royal Tourist—Kalakaua's Letters Home from Tokio to London. Editor: Richard A. Greer. Data: 10 March 1881
- Boettger, T. F. "Chevaliers de la Toisón d'Or - Knights of the Golden Fleece". La Confrérie Amicale. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
- "Sveriges statskalender (1877) p. 369" (in Swedish). Retrieved 6 January 2018 – via runeberg.org.
- Media related to Carl of Prussia at Wikimedia Commons
Prince Charles of PrussiaBorn: 29 June 1801 Died: 21 January 1883
August Ferdinand, Prinz von Preußen
| Herrenmeister (Grand Master) of the Order of Saint John
Albrecht, Prinz von Preußen