Prince Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

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Alfred Ernest Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Wettin, Ernestiner), Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Edinburgh

Lithuanian: Alfredas Ernestas Albertas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Wettin, Ernestiner), kunigaikštis, Russian: Альфред of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Wettin, Ernestiner), Принц, German: Alfred Ernest Albert von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (Wettin, Ernestiner), Herzog zu Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, herzog von Edinburgh
Also Known As: "херцог Алфред", "Alfie"
Birthdate: (55)
Birthplace: Windsor Castle, Berkshire, England
Death: Died in Coburg, Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha, Deutschland(DKR)
Place of Burial: Coburg, Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha, Deutschland(DKR)
Immediate Family:

Son of Albert, Prince Consort and Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom
Husband of <private>; Mary Rose Arbuthnot and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia
Father of <private>; <private>; Charles Vincent; Alfred, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; Maria Alexandra Victoria von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha, Queen Consort of Romania and 5 others
Brother of Victoria, Princess Royal, German Empress & Queen of Prussia; Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom; Princess Alice of the United Kingdom; Princess Helena of the United Kingdom; Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll and 3 others

Occupation: Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Managed by: Ofir Friedman
Last Updated:

About Prince Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

  • Alfred Ernest Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

Went by the nick-name of Affie.

  • Knight, Order of the Garter (K.G.).
  • 1st Duke of Edinburgh [U.K.] on 24 May 1866.
  • 1st Earl of Ulster [U.K.] on 24 May 1866.
  • Duke of Strathearn on 24 May 1866.
  • 1st Earl of Kent [U.K.] on 24 May 1866.
  • Knight Grand Commander, Order of the Star of India (G.C.S.I.).
  • Knight Grand Commander, Order of the Star of India (G.C.S.I.).
  • Admiral of the Fleet.
  • Knight Grand Commander, Order of the Indian Empire (G.C.I.E.).
  • Knight Grand Cross, Order of the Bath (G.C.B.).
  • Knight, Order of the Thistle (K.T.).
  • Knight, Order of St. Patrick (K.P.).
  • Privy Counsellor (P.C.).
  • General in the service of the Prussian Army.


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  • Herzog von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha: Reign 22 August 1893 - 30 july 1900
  • Title in German: Herzog von Sachsen, Herzog von Jülich, Kleve und Berg, von Engern und Westfalen, Landgraf in Thüringen, Markgraf von Meißen, Fürst von Henneberg, Graf von der Mark und Ravenstein, Herr von Ravenstein und Tonna u. a. m.; Herzog von Edinburgh, Graf von Kent und Graf von Ulster.

Predecessor: Ernest II Successor: Charles Edward

Alfred, KG, KT, KP, GCB, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, GCVO, PC (Alfred Ernest Albert; 6 August 1844 – 30 July 1900) reigned as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from 1893 to 1900. He was the second son and fourth child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He was known as the Duke of Edinburgh from 1866 until he succeeded his paternal uncle Ernest II as the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in the German Empire.


Alfred was born at Windsor Castle to the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria, and her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the second son of Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. As a son of the British monarch, he was styled His Royal Highness The Prince Alfred at birth and was second in the line of succession behind his elder brother, The Prince of Wales. He was known to his family as "Affie", after a childhood mispronunciation of the name "Alfred".[citation needed]

Alfred was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Howley, at the Private Chapel in Windsor Castle on 6 September 1844. His godparents were his mother's first cousin, Prince George of Cambridge (represented by his father, The Duke of Cambridge); his paternal aunt, the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (represented by his maternal grandmother, the Duchess of Kent); and Queen Victoria's half-brother, Carl, Prince of Leiningen (represented by The Duke of Wellington, Conservative Leader in the Lords).[1]

Alfred studied violin at Holyrood, Edinburgh, where his accompanist was Hungarian expatriate George Lichtenstein.[2]

Entering the Royal Navy

In 1856 it was decided that Prince Alfred, in accordance with his own wishes, should enter the Royal Navy. A separate establishment was accordingly assigned to him, with Lieutenant Sowell, R. E., as governor. He passed the examination in August 1858, and was appointed as midshipman in HMS Euryalus at the age of 14.[3] In July 1860, while in this ship, he paid an official visit to the Cape Colony, and made a very favourable impression both on the colonials and on the native chiefs. He took part in a hunt at Hartebeeste-Hoek, resulting in the slaughter of large numbers of game animals.[4] On the abdication of King Otto of Greece, in 1862, Prince Alfred was chosen to succeed him, but the British government blocked plans for him to ascend the Greek throne, largely because of the Queen's opposition to the idea. She and her late husband had plans for him to succeed to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg.

Prince Alfred, therefore, remained in the navy, and was promoted to lieutenant on 24 February 1863, serving under Count Gleichen on the corvette HMS Racoon.[5] He was promoted to captain on 23 February 1866 and was appointed to the command of the frigate HMS Galatea in January 1867.[5]

Second-in-line to the British throne[edit] Alfred remained second-in-line to the British throne from his birth until 8 January 1864, when his older brother Edward and his wife Alexandra of Denmark had their first son Prince Albert Victor. Any legitimate children of his older brother took priority in the succession list. Alfred became third-in-line to the throne and as Edward and Alexandra continued to have children, Alfred was further demoted in the order of succession.

Duke of Edinburgh

In the Queen's Birthday Honours on 24 May 1866,[6] the Prince was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Ulster, and Earl of Kent,[7] with an annuity of £15,000 granted by Parliament. He took his seat in the House of Lords on 8 June.

Naval career

While still in command of the Galatea, the Duke of Edinburgh started from Plymouth on 24 January 1867 for his voyage round the world. On 7 June 1867, he left Gibraltar, reached the Cape of Good Hope on 24 July and paid a royal visit to Cape Town on 24 August 1867 after landing at Simon's Town a while earlier. He landed at Glenelg, South Australia, on 31 October.

Being the first member of the royal family to visit Australia, the Duke was received with great enthusiasm. During his stay of nearly five months he visited Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Tasmania. Adelaide school Prince Alfred College was named in his honour to mark such an occasion.

Assassination attempt

On 12 March 1868, on his second visit to Sydney, he was invited by Sir William Manning, President of the Sydney Sailors' Home, to picnic at the beachfront suburb of Clontarf to raise funds for the home. At the function he was wounded in the back by a revolver fired by Henry James O'Farrell. The Prince was shot just to the right of his spine, and was tended for the next two weeks by six nurses, trained by Florence Nightingale and led by Matron Lucy Osburn, who had just arrived in Australia in February 1868. In the violent struggle during which the Duke was shot, William Vial had managed to wrest the gun away from O'Farrell until bystanders assisted. Vial, a Grand master of a Masonic Lodge, had helped to organise the picnic in honour of the Duke's visit and was presented with a gold watch[8] for securing the life of the Duke. Another bystander, George Thorne, was wounded in the foot by O'Farrell's second shot.[9]

The Melbourne Argus reported:


To-day was observed as a general holiday, in consequence of the Sailors' Home Pic-nic, which was very largely attended. Six steamers and both the yacht squadrons started for the scene, which was at a spot down Sydney Harbour.

The Prince arrived at two o'clock, and, after luncheon, was walking with the Countess of Belmore and Sir William Manning, when an unknown elderly man came behind him, and drawing a revolver, shot the Prince. He was firing a second shot, when the bystanders struck the pistol from his hand, and seized the assassin. The bullet was thus diverted, and went through Mr. Thornton's foot.

A fearful excitement ensued. A large number of ladies fainted, and the crowd rushed on the assassin, amid loud cries of "Lynch him, Lynch him." The police, interfered, and dragged the assassin on board a steamer. Later intelligence states that the 'man has declared himself to be an Irish man.

8 P.M. The would-be assassin has been re-cognised as H. J. O'Farrell, a lawyer's clerk, brother to a solicitor who practised some years ago in Melbourne, and levanted under disgraceful circumstances. He was living at Ballarat, and came here about three months ago.

He fired at the Prince's back, when two paces off. The bullet entered two inches from the spine, passed through the muscles of the back, and round by the ribs to the front of the abdomen.

The Prince immediately fell, exclaiming, " My back is broken." Sir Win. Manning, seeing the Prince fall, and hearing the second report, threw himself down, while the crowd rushed to raise the Prince and seize the assassin, who was only saved from being torn piecemeal by the exertions of the police and the Chief Justice, who got severely handled in aiding the police. Numerous attempts were made to tear the prisoner away, and his clothes were torn to shreds.

"When he was placed on board the steamer Paterson, to be taken to Sydney, the crew tried to seize him to lynch him. When he was searched, a second revolver, fully loaded, was found on him. He refused to give his name, but the police discovered his lodgings, and seized a quantity of papers in his box, principally legal documents. The sensation in the city is indescribable. Parliament was sitting when the news was received, and immediately adjourned. Bodies of mounted troopers and foot police, fully armed, were despatched to the wharf, the gaol, and the Government House.

The Prince was carried on board the steamer Morpeth about four o'clock, suffering intense pain. Two lines of citizens formed an avenue from the marquee to the steamer, and profound grief was manifested by them. Many ladies fainted as the Prince was borne by. He arrived in Sydney about five o'clock, and was conveyed to Government House. The wound is not thought to be mortal, though it causes great pain.

Thousands of people were at the wharf, expecting the Prince to land there. The most intense excitement prevails through the city.

MIDNIGHT. The bullet has not been extracted. The bishop called at Government House, but was not allowed to see the Prince, whom Miss Osborne and one of the sister nurses are attending. The symptoms are not more unfavourable.

LATEST BULLETIN. FRIDAY, FOUR O'CLOCK A.M. The medical attendants report that the Prince has passed a tranquil night. No unfavourable symptoms have manifested themselves. Every hope is entertained of the case progressing favourably.

Arrival of the HMS Galatea carrying Alfred. Hong Kong harbor, 1869 On the evening of 23 March 1868, the most influential people of Sydney voted for a memorial building to be erected, "to raise a permanent and substantial monument in testimony of the heartfelt gratitude of the community at the recovery of HRH". This led to a public subscription which paid for the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's construction.

Prince Alfred soon recovered from his injury and was able to resume command of his ship and return home in early April 1868.

Henry James O'Farrell was arrested at the scene, quickly tried, convicted and hanged on 21 April 1868.

Prince Alfred reached Spithead on 26 June 1868, after an absence of seventeen months. He visited Hawaii in 1869 and spent time with the royal family there, where he was presented with leis upon his arrival. He was also the first member of the Royal Family to visit New Zealand, arriving in 1869 on HMS Galatea.

The Duke of Edinburgh also became the first European prince to visit Japan and on 4 September 1869, he was received at an audience by the teenaged Emperor Meiji in Tokyo.

The Duke's next voyage was to India, where he arrived in December 1869 and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), which he visited the following year. In both countries and at Hong Kong, which he visited on the way, he was the first British prince to set foot in the country. The native rulers of India vied with one another in the magnificence of their entertainments during the Duke's stay of three months.


On 23 January 1874, the Duke of Edinburgh married the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, the second (and only surviving) daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and his wife Marie of Hesse and by Rhine, daughter of Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Wilhelmine of Baden, at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg. To commemorate the occasion, a small English bakery made the now-internationally-popular Marie biscuit, with the Duchess' name imprinted on its top.[10] The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh made their public entry into London on 12 March. The marriage, however, was not a happy one, and the bride was thought haughty by London Society. She was surprised to discover that she had to yield precedence to the Princess of Wales and all of Queen Victoria's daughters and insisted on taking precedence before the Princess of Wales (the future Queen Alexandra) because she and her father the Tsar considered the Princess of Wales' family (the Danish Royal Family) as inferior to their own. Queen Victoria refused this demand, yet granted her precedence immediately after the Princess of Wales. Her father gave her the then-staggering sum of £100,000 as a dowry, plus an annual allowance of £28,000.[citation needed]


Further information: Grandchildren of Victoria and Albert

("Young Affie") 15 October 1874 6 February 1899 Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from 22 August 1893 Princess Marie ("Missy") 29 October 1875 18 July 1938 married, 10 January 1893, King Ferdinand I of Romania (1865–1927); had issue Princess Victoria Melita ("Ducky") 25 November 1876 2 March 1936 married (1), 19 April 1894, Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine; had issue; divorced 21 December 1901 (2) 8 October 1905, Kirill Vladimirovich, Grand Duke of Russia; had issue

       Princess Alexandra

("Sandra") 1 September 1878 16 April 1942 married, 20 April 1896, Ernst II, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg; had issue Princess Beatrice 20 April 1884 13 July 1966 married, 15 July 1909, Infante Alfonso of Spain, 3rd Duke of Galliera; had issue

Flag Rank

The Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in Malta for several years and his third child, Victoria Melita, was born there in 1876. Promoted rear-admiral on 30 December 1878, he became admiral superintendent of naval reserves, with his flag in the corvette HMS Penelope in November 1879.[11] Promoted to vice-admiral on 10 November 1882,he became Commander-in-Chief, Channel Fleet, with his flag in the armoured ship HMS Minotaur, in December 1883.[11] He became Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, with his flag in the armoured ship HMS Alexandra, in March 1886, and having been promoted to admiral on 18 October 1887,[12] he went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth in August 1890.[11] He was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 3 June 1893.[11]

Percy Scott wrote in his memoirs that "as a Commander-in-Chief, the Duke of Edinburgh had, in my humble opinion, no equal. He handled a fleet magnificently, and introduced many improvement in signals and manoeuvring." He "took a great interest in gunnery."[13] "The prettiest ship I have ever seen was the [The Duke of Edinburgh's flagship] HMS Alexandra. I was informed that £2,000 had been spent by the officers on her decoration."[14]

Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

On the death of his uncle, Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha on 22 August 1893, the duchy fell to the Duke of Edinburgh, since The Prince of Wales had renounced his right to the succession. Alfred thereupon surrendered his British allowance of £15,000 a year and his seats in the House of Lords and the Privy Council, but he retained the £10,000 granted on his marriage to maintain Clarence House as his London residence.[15] At first regarded with some coldness as a "foreigner", he gradually gained popularity. By the time of his death in 1900, he had generally won the good opinion of his subjects.

The Duke was exceedingly fond of music and took a prominent part in establishing the Royal College of Music. He was a keen violinist, but had little skill. At a dinner party given by his brother, he was persuaded to play. Sir Henry Ponsonby wrote: 'Fiddle out of tune and noise abominable.'[16]

He was also a keen collector of glass and ceramic ware, and his collection, valued at half a million marks, was presented by his widow to the Veste Coburg, the enormous fortress on a hill top above Coburg.

Later life

The Duke's only son, the Hereditary Prince Alfred, became involved in a scandal involving his mistress and shot himself in January 1899, in the midst of his parents' twenty-fifth wedding anniversary celebrations at the Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha. He survived, but his embarrassed parents sent him off to Meran to recover, where he died two weeks later, on 6 February.

The Duke of Saxe-Coburg died of throat cancer on 30 July 1900 in a lodge adjacent to Schloss Rosenau, the ducal summer residence just north of Coburg. He was buried at the ducal family's mausoleum in the public Glockenburg Cemetery of Coburg.[citation needed] He was succeeded as the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha by his nephew, Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany, the posthumous son of his youngest brother, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany because Alfred's next brother, The Duke of Connaught, and his son, Prince Arthur of Connaught, had renounced their succession rights to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.[citation needed]

He was survived by his mother, Queen Victoria, who had already outlived two of her children, Alice and Leopold. She died six months later.


Ancestors of Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

6 August 1844 – 24 May 1866: His Royal Highness The Prince Alfred 24 May 1866 – 23 August 1893: His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh 23 August 1893 – 30 July 1900: His Royal Highness The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Alfred's full style in the United Kingdom at his death was His Royal Highness The Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Ulster, Earl of Kent, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George, Knight Grand Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Knight of the Order of the Black Eagle, Knight of the Star of Schwarzenberg, Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Knight of the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation, Knight of the Legion of Honour, Knight of the Order of St. Stephen, Knight of the Order of St. Andrew, Osmanieh of the Ottoman Empire.

In Germany his style and titles included Seine Königliche Hoheit Herzog von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, Herzog zu Sachsen, Prinz von Großbritannien und Irland, Herzog von Edinburg, Herzog zu Jülich, Kleve, und Berg, zu Engern und Westfalen, Graf von Ulster und von Kent, Landgraf in Thüringen, Markgraf zu Meissen, gefürsteter Graf zu Henneberg, Graf zu der Mark und Ravensberg, Herr von Ravenstein und Tonna,[17] which translates to Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; Duke in Saxony; Prince of Great Britain and Ireland; Duke of Edinburgh; Duke of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, of Angria and Westphalia; Earl (Count) of Ulster and Kent; Landgrave in Thuringia; Margrave of Meissen; Princely Count of Henneberg; Count of the Mark and Ravensberg; Lord of Ravenstein and Tonna.


British honours

KG: Knight of the Garter, 1863 KT: Knight of the Thistle, 1864 KP: Knight of St Patrick, 1880 GCB: Knight Grand Cross of the Bath, 1889 GCSI: Knight Grand Commander of the Star of India, 1870 GCMG: Knight Grand Cross of St Michael and St George, 1869 GCIE: Knight Grand Commander of the Indian Empire, 1887 GCVO: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, 24 May 1899[18] PC: Privy Counsellor, 1866

Foreign honours[19]

Saxe-Coburg and Gotha: Joint Grand Master of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order, 1893
Portugal: Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword, 1859
Prussia: Knight of the Black Eagle, 1864
Prussia: Grand Cross of the Red Eagle, 1864
Kingdom of Hawaii: Knight of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, 1865
Grand Duchy of Hesse: Grand Cross of the Order of Ludwig, 1865
Netherlands: Grand Cross of the Order of the Golden Lion of Nassau, 1865
Empire of Brazil: Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of the Southern Cross, 1867
Spain: Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, 1888
Italy: Knight of the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
France: Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour
Austria-Hungary: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Stephen, 1873
Russian Empire: Order of St. Andrew
Ottoman Empire: Osminieh Order, 1st class

Mecklenburg: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Wendish Crown with gems – 28 June 1868


Prince Alfred gained use of the royal arms of the United Kingdom, charged with an inescutcheon of the shield of Saxony, the whole differenced by a label argent of three points, the outer points bearing anchors azure, and the inner a cross gules.[20] When he became the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, his Saxon arms were his British arms inverted, as follows: the ducal arms of Saxony charged with an inescutcheon of the royal arms of the United Kingdom differenced with a label argent of three points, the outer points bearing anchors azure, and the inner a cross gules.

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Prince Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha's Timeline

August 6, 1844
Windsor Castle, Berkshire, England
August 6, 1844
- May 24, 1866
London, Greater London, United Kingdom
September 6, 1844
Windsor, Berkshire, United Kingdom
September 6, 1844
Windsor Castle, Berkshire, England
September 6, 1844
Private Chapel In Windsor Castle
September 6, 1844
Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, ENG
Age 13
Hms Euryalus
Age 13
Sandhurst, England
May 24, 1866
- August 23, 1893
Age 21
London, Greater London, United Kingdom
Age 21
Hms Galatea