Prince Maurice of Battenberg

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Prince Maurice of Battenberg
1891 Maurice-04.JPG
Born 3 October 1891
Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire
Died 27 October 1914(1914-10-27) (aged 23)
Zonnebeke, Belgium
Burial Ypres, Belgium
Full name
Maurice Victor Donald
Family Battenberg
Father Prince Henry of Battenberg
Mother Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom
Occupation Military (King's Royal Rifle Corps)

Prince Maurice of Battenberg, KCVO, (Maurice Victor Donald; 3 October 1891 – 27 October 1914) was a member of the Hessian princely Battenberg family and the extended British Royal Family, the youngest grandchild of Queen Victoria. He was known as Prince Maurice of Battenberg throughout his life, since he died before the British Royal Family relinquished their German titles during World War I and the Battenbergs changed their name to Mountbatten.

Early life[edit]

Prince Maurice of Battenberg circa 1900-1905

Prince Maurice was born on 3 October 1891. He was given the name Maurice after his father Prince Henry of Battenberg and the great-grandfather, Count Maurice von Hauke, Victor after his grandmother the Queen, and Donald in honour of Scotland, as he was born at Balmoral Castle. His father was Prince Henry of Battenberg, the son of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine and Julie Therese née Countess of Hauke. His mother was Princess Henry of Battenberg (née The Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom), the fifth daughter and the youngest child of Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort.

As he was the child of a morganatic marriage, Prince Henry of Battenberg took his style of Prince of Battenberg from his mother, Countess Julia Hauke who was created Princess of Battenberg in her own right. As such, Maurice was styled as His Serene Highness Prince Maurice of Battenberg from birth. In the United Kingdom, he was styled His Highness Prince Maurice of Battenberg under a Royal Warrant passed by Queen Victoria in 1886.[1] He was baptised in the Drawing Room at Balmoral on 31 October 1891. His godparents were the Duchess of Connaught and Strathearn (represented by Queen Victoria), the Princess of Leiningen (represented by Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein), the Duke of Clarence and Avondale (represented by Sir Henry Ponsonby), Prince Francis Joseph of Battenberg (represented by Sir Fleetwood Edwards) and the Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse.[2]

The youngest of his four siblings, Maurice most resembled his father, who died when the Prince was only four, the same age his mother was when her own father died. He was his mother's favourite out of his brothers. He was educated at Lockers Park Prep School in Hertfordshire.[3]

His elder sister Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, married Alfonso XIII of Spain and was Queen Consort of Spain between 1906 and 1931.

Later life[edit]

Maurice attended Wellington College and was a member of Benson House. Prince Maurice was made a Freemason in the Old Wellingtonian Lodge No. 3404 (the Lodge of the Old Wellingtonians) on 21 June 1912 and was installed Master of the Twelve Brothers Lodge, No. 785 Southampton on 22 April 1914.[4]

Grave of Prince Maurice of Battenberg in Ypres, Belgium.
Winchester Cathedral, memorial to Prince Maurice and his brother Leopold

The Prince served in World War I as a Lieutenant in the King's Royal Rifle Corps, and was killed in action at Zonnebeke,[5] in the Ypres Salient on 27 October 1914.[6]

The 1st Battalion war diary states, "During the advance eastwards from the ridge the battalion came under terrific shell fire as well as rifle fire… Poor [Prince] Maurice was killed outright just on top of the ridge."[5]

Word of the prince's death was passed to Brigadier-General Fanshawe, commander of the 6th Infantry Brigade. He in turn passed the news to 2nd Division Comnander Major-General CC Munro. Munro spoke with the Brigadier at 23.30 before informing 1st Army Corp Commander Lieutenant-General Douglas Haig. Haig was sent the message that the prince "was killed by a shell whilst gallantly leading his company forward to attack across a ridge, east of Zonnebeke". Haig shared the news with GHQ at 7.00 the next morning. He said, "By the death of H.H. Prince Maurice of Battenberg the Army loses a most gallant and valuable officer. In peace and war he has done his duty to King and Country". The final word was sent to the War Office by Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, "with deep regret".[5]

His mother, Princess Beatrice, declined the offer of Lord Kitchener to have her son's body repatriated.[5] He is buried in Ypres Town Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery.[6] The battalion war diary notes that his funeral took place on 31 October 1914 and records that, "Denison, Gough, the Sgt Major, Sgt O'Leary and a few others went down to poor Maurice's funeral in Ypres".[5] The gravestone bears the following inscription: GRANT HIM WITH ALL THY FAITHFUL SERVANTS A PLACE OF REFRESHMENT AND PEACE.[6]

A memorial tablet to him and his brother Leopold is in Winchester Cathedral.[7]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • His Highness Prince Maurice of Battenberg

Honours[edit]

Ancestry[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "No. 25655". The London Gazette. 14 December 1886. p. 6305.
  2. ^ Queen Victoria's Journals - Saturday 31st October 1891
  3. ^ "Artist celebrates old boys with exhibition". Hemel Today. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  4. ^ "Lieutenant H.H. Prince Maurice Victor Donald of Battenberg, KCVO". Masonic Great War Project. 29 August 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e Archives, The National (2014-10-27). "Death of a Prince | The National Archives blog". The National Archives blog. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  6. ^ a b c "Casualty Details: Battenberg, Prince Maurice Victor Donald". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  7. ^ "PRINCE M V D BATTENBERG". War Memorials Register. Imperial War Museums. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  8. ^ "No. 28505". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 June 1911. p. 4595.

External links[edit]