Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

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Prince Albert (painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter , 1859)

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (born His Highness Prince Franz Albrecht August Karl Emanuel of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Duke of Saxony ; * August 26, 1819 in Rosenau Castle , Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld , † December 14, 1861 at Windsor Castle , Berkshire ) was a German prince from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha .

Already in childhood the name Albrecht was diminutively changed to his later nickname Albert , which quickly established itself outside the family when his role as Victoria's future husband seemed inevitable.

In 1840 Albert married his cousin, the British Queen Victoria , and until his death in 1861 had considerable influence on his wife and the development of the British monarchy . From 1857 he was named Prince Consort ( Prince Consort ).


Family background

Duke Ernst I , Albert's father

Albert's father was Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld , who had been declared of legal age at an early stage in 1803 in order to take over the affairs of government in the duchy of around 1,500 square kilometers. Ernst had assumed rule over the small German state in politically difficult times. During the coalition wars he fought in the Prussian army against Napoleon and it was thanks to the influence of Russia that he was installed in his sovereign rights after the peace of Tilsit in 1807. The brother of the Russian tsar, Grand Duke Konstantin Pawlowitsch, was married to Juliane von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld , a sister of the duke, and had stood up for his German brother-in-law.

On July 31, 1817, Duke Ernst married the only 16-year-old Luise von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg , the last legitimate heir to the House of Gotha . This connection resulted in two descendants: In addition to Hereditary Prince Ernst , Prince Albert was born on August 26, 1819 at Rosenau Castle.

With the birth of the sons, the succession seemed secured, but the two parents subsequently became estranged. In addition to the age difference, Ernst exercised the right to extramarital relationships, but did not allow this to apply to his young wife to the same extent. Luise's love affair with the officer Alexander von Hanstein led to the final separation of the couple. The divorce on March 31, 1826 was delayed by Ernst until the death of Luise's father and the associated reallocation of the Ernestine duchies under the chairmanship of the Saxon king . As part of this reallocation, Saalfeld fell to the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen ; Coburg received Gotha , which Duke Ernst now ruled as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in personal union, but territorially and administratively separately. Since their exile in 1824 Luise had no contact with their sons and eventually married Alexander raised to Counts of Poelzig von Hanstein and died on August 30, 1831 in Paris to uterine cancer .

Childhood and adolescence

Albert (left) with his mother Luise and brother Ernst (painting by Ludwig Döll, 1823–1824)

On May 4, 1823 Johann Christoph Florschütz was appointed "Ducal Councilor and Prince Instructor" and was henceforth responsible for the education of Princes Ernst and Albert. As the son of a high school teacher in Coburg , Florschütz had got to know a stable family life and had been encouraged by his father to study theology and philosophy . Florschiitz, who showed stability and affection for the princes, was to be Albert's surrogate father for over fifteen years and to offer him an excellent upbringing. The curriculum included history , science , geography and philosophy, as well as the acquisition of foreign languages. In addition to Latin , the princes learned French and English . Although the father often had breakfast with his sons and occasionally took them with him to hunt, it was only a minor factor in their upbringing.

Prince Albert in particular had a close relationship with his (step) grandmother Karoline Amalie von Hessen-Kassel , who lived in Gotha and was the second wife of his grandfather, Duke August von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg , who remained childless . Albert was the dowager's favorite grandson all his life and visited her as an adult in 1845 together with Victoria in the Gotha Winter Palace .

Little is known about Albert's feelings after his sudden separation from his mother. Neither his diaries are meaningful on this point, nor does he comment on it in later letters, although the divorce of his parents and the blackmail attempts by his father's former underage lover, Pauline Panam, were topics of conversation at the European royal courts. Only his daughter Victoria later reports that her father often told her that he found his childhood unhappy and miserable and that he often wished he was out of this world. Even if Albert did not dare to publicly oppose his father, he despised his amoral life and began as a child to build an alternative world in which morality, work, a sense of duty and discipline were paramount. His contemporaries from those years later described Albert as prudent, strong-willed and thirsty for knowledge, gifted with a sense of duty, quick comprehension and common sense.

King Leopold I of Belgium, portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter from 1840

Leopold of Belgium - the uncle's influence

One of the most influential personalities in the life of the young Prince Albert was his uncle Leopold , his father's youngest brother. Although only in third place in the line of succession of an insignificant small German state, he had one of the more varied careers of a European prince's son in the 19th century. During the times of the French administration of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, when Duke Ernst, as the rightful heir to the throne, could not enter the duchy, Prince Leopold initially stood by his widowed mother, Duchess Auguste Reuss zu Ebersdorf . After the failure of Napoleon's Russian campaign and the establishment of the Prussian-Russian alliance, he entered the Russian military and distinguished himself as a cavalry corps commander in the Battle of Kulm and the Battle of Nations near Leipzig through personal bravery. When the tsar visited the British royal court in 1814, the youngest brother of the tsar's sister-in-law was part of the Russian entourage, and there were many indications that he would pursue a career at the tsar's court. The presumptive British heir to the throne Charlotte Augusta , for whom the marriage contract with the Prince of Orange has already been negotiated, fell in love with the handsome Prince Leopold, who was famous for his military exploits. Against the resistance of her father, Prince Regent Georg , the strong-willed Princess of Wales broke her engagement to the Prince of Orange and married Prince Leopold on May 2, 1816. However, Prince Leopold was denied the role of Prince Consort of the British Queen: Princess Charlotte died in 1817 as a result of a stillbirth. The British royal family was thus without legitimate descendants. Since it was unlikely that George IV, whose marriage to Caroline von Braunschweig was completely broken, would still have descendants entitled to the throne, the younger brothers of the British regent began to look for suitable spouses among the Protestant princesses of Europe. Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn finally asked for the hand of Victoire von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld , the second youngest sister of Prince Leopold and Duke Ernst, now a widowed Princess of Leiningen and mother of two children. The widowed Prince Leopold stayed at the British court for the next decade, assisting his soon-to-be-widowed sister, whose little daughter Victoria from her marriage to the Duke of Kent might one day ascend the British throne. In June 1831, the Brussels National Congress elected Prince Leopold to be King of Belgium and from then on he resided in Brussels.

King Leopold himself had experienced the value of marital relationships with other royal houses: his career in the Russian army would hardly have been possible if his sister Juliane had not been married to the tsarist brother. He himself married the French princess Louise of Orléans shortly after his accession to the throne , which largely ruled out that France would annex parts of the young state of Belgium. He played an active role as early as 1836 when his Coburg nephew Ferdinand married the Portuguese Queen Maria II of Portugal. A possible marriage between his nephew Prince Albert and his British niece Victoria, who with increasing probability would one day be the British Queen, was systematically pursued by King Leopold. The educator of the duke's sons, Christian Florschütz, reported regularly in letters to the Belgian court on the progress of his pupils and praised Prince Albert. However, he was possibly partisan in his judgment. Finally, King Leopold commissioned his long-time advisor Christian Friedrich von Stockmar to examine Prince Albert as a possible Prince Consort of his British niece Victoria. Christian Stockmar thought the prince was handsome, but was not yet sure whether he had the necessary character traits for the difficult role of a British prince consort. After getting to know each other for the first time, he wrote back to his royal client in 1836:

“If I find that he has enough fund in every respect, then conscientiousness demands that the difficulties of the undertaking [the marriage to the presumptive English queen] be presented to him from all sides first. If this does not deter him, then, in my opinion, there are two imperatives. The first is that of a planned, consistently carried out education for his future career with constant consideration for the so peculiar country and people, and the second is that of gaining the princess's inclination before the application and the application itself only for this Inclination to found. "

Education of the possible prince consort

In the summer of 1836, Duke Ernst arrived in London with his two sons to look after his sister and their daughter Victoria. King Wilhelm IV was not very pleased about the visit because he was pursuing his own marriage plans for his niece and heir to the throne. Only a few days before the visit of the Coburg ducal family, Alexander of Orange, the second son of the then Dutch crown prince and later King Wilhelm II , was introduced to Princess Victoria, whom the British king considered a suitable candidate for marriage. However, Princess Victoria found the Dutch prince unappealing. She was able to warm up to the two Coburg princes, after her departure she wrote to her uncle King Leopold that Albert had all the qualities she wanted. For the first time she has the prospect of “great happiness”. The letter to her uncle in Belgium is proof that Princess Victoria knew that King Leopold saw Prince Albert as the right candidate for her marriage. On the other hand, according to the few available documents, Prince Albert probably only found out about this project in March 1838, although Christian Stockmar had advised the Belgian king to inaugurate the prince at an early stage.

After their stay in London and a flying visit to Paris , the two ducal sons spent the next 10 months in Brussels. Together with their tutor Christian Florschütz, they had moved into a small house in the Belgian capital. King Leopold had hired a number of excellent teachers for the two princes, including the mathematician, physicist and meteorologist Adolphe Quetelet , with whom Albert corresponded until the end of his life. The experiences in Belgium, which like Great Britain had a constitutional monarchy , were formative for Prince Albert. Under the influence of his worldly uncle, Prince Albert seems to have grasped for the first time that Central Europe was in a process of economic and social upheaval. Prince Albert's biographer Hans Joachim Netzer wrote of his stay in Brussels that both Prince Albert and Prince Ernst were “injected with a belief in liberality and humanism, in law and duty and in the constitution”.

After their stay in Brussels, the two ducal sons studied at the University of Bonn for a year and a half , again accompanying Christian Florschütz. It was not planned that they should graduate with a degree. The princes, who both enrolled in law school, were only supposed to get a glimpse of subjects that could be useful to them in their later careers: constitutional law, finance, economics. They also attended lectures in philosophy and science. In 1838 the two brothers parted ways. For Florschütz, too, his time as a prince tutor ended . Hereditary Prince Ernst went to the court of Dresden to receive military training in the local army. Prince Albert traveled to Italy for six months from December 1838. He was accompanied by Christian Stockmar, the longtime advisor to King Leopold.

The marriage project with Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom for a few months, seemed to be fading. Queen Victoria replied coolly to the letter in which Prince Albert congratulated her on the accession to the throne. The relationship with King Leopold, whom she had previously admired, was also no longer free of tensions. He had tried to make use of the relationship with her and harness her for Belgian territorial claims, which both the Queen and her Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, won against him. A marriage project intensively promoted by King Leopold could be understood at the British court as an attempt by the Belgian king to further strengthen his influence on the British queen. On the advice of Christian Stockmar, King Leopold had therefore refrained from further mentioning Prince Albert in his letters to his niece. Queen Victoria, who used her accession to the throne to free herself from the restrictive influence of her mother, had indicated to Prime Minister Lord Melbourne that she did not intend to marry for the next few years. In March 1838 there was also a discussion between King Leopold and Prince Albert about the marriage project, as confirmed by letters from King Leopold to Christian Stockmar. In this conversation, Prince Albert had pointed out that he would be prepared to wait - but only if he had sufficient certainty that the marriage would take place. "If he has to wait another three or four years, it will be impossible for him to start a new career, and his whole life will be ruined if the Queen changes her mind," wrote King Leopold to his longtime confidante Christian Stockmar.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria 1843, painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

At the time of her birth, Queen Victoria was fifth in line to the British throne and almost nothing had suggested that she would take the British throne eighteen years later. Before her in the line of succession stood the Prince Regent Georg and his younger brothers. Queen Victoria's father Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn was only the fourth son of George III. and it seemed probable that the marriages of his elder brothers would give birth to children who would line up in line to the throne before the daughter of the Duke of Kent. The Duke of Kent died eight months after the birth of his daughter, leaving behind such high debts that the Duchess was forced to turn down the inheritance. From her brother-in-law, Georg IV. , Who a few days after the death of Duke Georg III. succeeded to the British throne, she had no help in expectation. He had been against his brother's marriage to Victoire von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld and would now have loved to see the Duchess of Kent return to Germany with her daughter. The allowance granted to the Duchess was tiny. Without the financial support of her brother Leopold, who urgently advised her to stay in London, the Duchess would not have been able to live in London or to lead a somewhat befitting life in Kensington Palace. She was not involved in court life. The future Belgian King Leopold was the family's closest contact and was later repeatedly referred to by Victoria as her second father. Leopold, who lived in Brussels from 1830 onwards, could not prevent his sister from increasingly coming under the influence of John Conroy , whom the Duke of Kent had appointed as administrator of the estate. John Conroy insisted that the marriages of the older royal brothers would remain childless and that Princess Victoria would be crowned when she was still an underage. In this case, the Duchess of Kent would rule as regent - for John Conroy the possibility of determining British government policy over her. It was therefore in John Conroy's interest that the Duchess and her daughter had as little contact as possible with British court circles. The targeted isolation of the heir to the throne, later referred to as the Kensington system , ensured that the princess grew up without playmates of the same age and was insufficiently prepared for her future role as monarch. Even Wilhelm IV's accession to the throne , who would have liked to see his niece at court more often, did not change this situation. However, the growing princess increasingly resisted the attempts of John Conroy and her mother to gain power and influence over them. In 1835 the mother and her 17-year-old daughter broke up. The princess found support from her uncle Leopold. Unlike his nephew Prince Albert, King Leopold was unable to intervene directly in the upbringing of the princess. However, a few years after he had ascended the Belgian throne, he had begun to write to her regularly and to send her books and manuscripts to prepare her for her future role. When in 1836 the increasingly deteriorating state of health of Wilhelm IV made it clear that Victoria's accession to the throne was imminent, King Leopold also put Christian von Stockmar at her side as an advisor. With Stockmar's help, the princess managed to evade the last attempts by John Conroy to secure a position of power at the British royal court.

Under the influence of Prime Minister Melbourne, Queen Victoria's first year was a successful one. After that, a series of scandals caused the young queen to lose the public goodwill she enjoyed at the beginning of her reign. Fearing that she would lose her trusted Prime Minister, she prevented a change of power from the Whigs to the Tories, which sparked a constitutional crisis. Her apparently heartless and imprudent behavior in the Flora-Hastings affair also cost her public sympathy. There was increasing demand from the British public that the Queen should marry. She herself was afraid of pregnancy and worried that a husband would try to control her, as her mother and John Conroy had tried before. King Leopold had therefore informed her in the first months of 1839 that she did not consider herself engaged to Prince Albert. However, the king was able to get Prince Albert and his brother Ernst to visit for the autumn of that year.

The marriage between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Prince Albert and Prince Ernst arrived at the British royal court on October 10, 1839. In her diary, the Queen noted: "I saw Albert with some movement, he is beautiful." On October 14, she discussed the possible wedding date with Prime Minister Melbourne; on October 15, she asked for Prince Albert's hand - as protocol required her to do. "I am the happiest person", the queen wrote in her diary immediately after the engagement.

Marriage of Albert and Victoria in 1840, painting by Sir George Hayter

The speed with which Queen Victoria shed her aversion to marriage and fell in love with Prince Albert is explained by Prince Albert's biographer Hans Joachim Netzer with the young Queen's need for a supporter and protector, who felt increasingly insecure in her role as regent . Queen Victoria's biographer Carolly Erickson also cites this as an essential reason. At the same time, however, it emphasizes a number of similarities. Both had an unhappy and loveless childhood, were emotionally hurt, romantically inclined and loved music. While Queen Victoria's diary entries testify to a happy exuberance of emotions, Prince Albert's letters from this period suggest that he saw the future marriage to the British Queen much more soberly. He wrote to his grandmother Karoline Amalie von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg in Gotha:

“I firmly believe that Heaven has not placed me in bad hands and we will be happy together. Since that moment Victoria has been doing everything she can only see in my eyes. "

It was not until November 1839 that Queen Victoria informed the Privy Council of her wedding, which had already been planned for February 10, 1840. The reactions of the British public to the planned wedding were largely negative. The prince from little Coburg was not considered equal to the queen; in Great Britain, ridiculous verses appeared that the Queen had given half a crown in order to receive a ring. Other mocking verses alluded to the increasingly rounded forms of Queen Victoria and assumed that Prince Albert would only take England's fat queen because of her even thicker moneybag. Rumors circulated that Prince Albert agreed on marital parentage and wanted to see him as the product of one of Luise von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg's infidelities. The Duke of Wellington, as the leader of the political opposition, demanded certainty that Albert was actually Protestant, whereupon Prince Albert pointed out in a letter that without the House of Saxony, Protestantism would not exist at all. There was a lack of comparable precedents in British history as to the rank of the consort of a ruling queen and Prime Minister Melbourne accepted that these questions were resolved to the detriment of Prince Albert. So Albert remained a simple prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha with the wedding and was not raised to the prince consort . The British Parliament, which 23 years earlier had granted Prince Leopold as the consort of the presumptive British heir to the throne Charlotte an annual allowance of 50,000 pounds, only approved Prince Albert as the Queen's consort of 30,000 pounds. Queen Victoria took the affront so personally that she considered not inviting the Duke of Wellington to the wedding.

The wedding preparations also led to the first tensions between the bride and groom. Prince Albert wanted at least part of his personal court staff and, trained by King Leopold's example, had a staff that either consisted of Tories and Whigs alike or was politically neutral. Queen Victoria appointed all members of his household without taking into account the wishes of her future husband and, influenced by Prime Minister Melbourne, chose exclusively supporters of the Whigs. As private secretary - the most important office in the princely household - she appointed George Anson (1769-1849), who served in the same function Prime Minister Melbourne. In a letter to his fiancée, Prince Albert asked what should happen in the event of a change of government: a complete change of the budget or would his staff then have to convert and become Tories? Prince Albert managed to get George Anson to step down from the Prime Minister's office. The queen's preference for the Whigs' party continued at the wedding ceremony. Only five Tories were invited to attend the wedding ceremony on February 10, 1840 in the small chapel of St. James' Palace.

The first year of marriage

Prince Albert on Canadian postage stamp published March 1855

In the first year of marriage, Prince Albert played no part in UK political decisions. The Queen made a strict distinction between her private life, in which Prince Albert played an important role for her, and her life as ruler. Prince Albert, who was prepared for a political role and for whom this was one of the reasons for the marriage, complained repeatedly about it. The prince also suffered from isolation: On his first birthday at the British royal court, the only familiar faces around him were his old valet and his dog Eos, Prince Albert wrote to his father in Coburg. He had lived most of his life in close association with his brother and Christian Florschütz. He lacked this close community at the London court. The members of the British aristocracy found the German prince too educated and stiff. He was sporty, which was appreciated by the British aristocracy, but only a mediocre rider and marksman. The scientists, artists and musicians whom he would have liked to have invited to evening events had to stay away from the court at the request of his wife. She was only too aware of her insufficient education and felt that she could not take part in such conversations, which she found incompatible with her role as monarch. She did not share her husband's interest in politics. At the same time she claimed the exercise of the ruling function for herself alone. "I don't like him taking on my role in state affairs," she openly told Prime Minister Melbourne after he had spoken positively about a public appearance by Prince Albert. In a letter to King Leopold, Hereditary Prince Ernst described how bored his brother was at court:

“As Queen, she floats in other regions, Albert is overlooked. If he wishes to know something and, after long deliberation, to make an innocent remark, he receives a pointed, evasive, and often no answer at all. She jumps off the topic and the conversation between the couple rests for a few days again on the dogs, clothes, miniature paintings and music. "

Baroness Lehzen was also involved in Prince Albert's isolated position . The Coburg pastor's daughter, who had already raised the Duchess' daughter from her first marriage, had also been Princess Victoria's tutor from 1824 and had stood by her during the difficult time when she resisted the influence of John Conroy and the Duchess of Kent. The relationship of trust between Baroness Lehzen and the Queen was accordingly great. The baroness did not hold an official position, but acted as some sort of unofficial private secretary who signed all court accounts and to whom Queen Victoria turned first for advice. Prince Albert was aware of the influential role of the baroness; He put it laconically: "The difficulty in filling my place with full dignity lies in the fact that I am only the man, not the master of the house." In the baroness he saw the cause of everything that was going wrong in his view at the British royal court, and with unaccustomed sharpness he called her a “fire-breathing house dragon”.

Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter , 1842)
Coat of arms of Prince Consort Albert

The first marital crisis

Prince Albert, who had previously remained without political influence, had resumed his studies. He became a member of the Royal Society , studied English law with a London lawyer, assumed the presidency of the Society for the Abolition of Slavery , dealt with the extensive archives in Windsor and had the gardens and parks of this royal palace redesigned. He began with the establishment of an agricultural model estate and formed a small stud from the Arabs of the royal riding stables. The prince's largely ineffective role changed with the birth of his first children. Queen Victoria became pregnant immediately after the wedding. Princess Royal Victoria , named after her, was born on November 21, 1840 , and Prince Albert attended the Privy Council for the first time at Prime Minister Melbourne's invitation. Shortly afterwards, the queen was pregnant again. During this second pregnancy, Prince Albert became politically active for the first time without the knowledge and consent of the Queen. It was foreseeable that, given the political and financial situation in the country, a change of government would be imminent. In 1839 the so-called court lady affair had cost the young queen a great deal of sympathy among her population. She had refused the appointment of the Tory Robert Peel as Prime Minister, because with the change of government all of the ladies-in-waiting, all of whom belonged to the Whigs' party, were to be exchanged. Prince Albert began negotiating with Robert Peel to avoid a similar situation and agreed with him that in the event of a change of government, only three of his wife's ladies-in-waiting would have to leave the court and be exchanged for supporters of the Tories. Queen Victoria was furious about this agreement but then came to terms with it. It was also the first step that politically neutralized the British royal court. Trained by King Leopold and Christian von Stockmar, Albert was convinced that in a constitutional monarchy in which the prime minister was primarily obliged to parliament, the royal house should be above current political events and party political decisions.

At the time of Prince Edward's birth on November 9, 1841, Prince Albert was already the Queen's main adviser. He now had access to all papers presented to the Queen, drafted many of her official letters and influenced her decisions. Probably the most serious marital crisis in the relationship between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert then initiated the withdrawal of Baroness Lehzen from the British court.

As usual, the little Princess Victoria, the firstborn child of the royal couple, grew up in a so-called nursery, which was run by a governess. That did not prevent Baroness Lehzen from repeatedly interfering in the management of the nursery. The little princess was ailing at the beginning of her second year. When Queen Victoria and Prince Albert returned from a short trip, they found their daughter emaciated and pale. Following a critical remark from Prince Albert, Queen Victoria lost her composure and, in a fit of fury, accused Prince Albert of a number of accusations. Prince Albert then left the nursery without a word, but wrote his wife a letter that she could do whatever she wanted with the daughter. Should the daughter die, however, it would be on her conscience. Over the next few days, the couple only dealt with each other in writing. Prince Albert sought advice from Christian von Stockmar; Queen Victoria turned to Baroness Lehzen. Christian von Stockmar, whom the Queen valued as an advisor as much as her husband, informed her that he would leave the British court if such scenes were to repeat themselves. Queen Victoria relented in her response to Christian von Stockmar:

"Albert has to tell me what he does not like [...] when I am irascible, which, I certainly hope, doesn't happen often anymore, he doesn't have to believe the stupid things that I say, for example that it's a shame was to have ever married & so on, which I only say when I am not feeling well. "

As discreetly as the solution to the question of the ladies-in-waiting, Prince Albert also introduced the farewell to Baroness Lehzen, who retired with an appropriate pension in Bückeburg , Germany. Queen Victoria reacted irritably when her husband informed her that the baroness would retire from court in two months for health reasons, but accepted it.

The upbringing of the children

Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the five oldest children. Painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter , 1846

Queen Victoria, who gave birth to her first five children in six years and became a mother of nine within 17 years, found each of her pregnancies to be torture and unreasonable. She couldn't do anything with newborns; she found her undirected movements frog-like and unattractive. Prince Albert, on the other hand, was an enthusiastic father who found the patience to help the little ones with their first attempts at dressing themselves, who later hunted butterflies, fly kites, built snowmen with them, went ice-skating and tobogganing with them. Queen Victoria described her family life in a letter to King Leopold shortly after the birth of her first daughter as follows:

“You would be amused to see Albert dancing with her [Victoria, first daughter] in his arms. He would make an excellent nanny (not me, she is much too heavy for me to carry), & she seems so happy when she can see him, [...] "

Neither Queen Victoria nor Prince Albert initially had any experience with growing young children. In the pedantic manner characteristic of him, Prince Albert had written a series of memoranda after the birth of his first daughter, which set out in detail how their upbringing should go. On the occasion of the birth of Prince Edward, who ranked above his older sister in the line of succession because of his gender, Christian von Stockmar also wrote a 48-page memorandum that laid down the basic principles of the upbringing of royal children. As a warning, both the royal couple and Christian von Stockmar saw the life of Queen Victoria's father and his brothers. Her unrestrained, extravagant life had cost the British monarchy a great deal of prestige. The marital conflict between George IV and Caroline von Braunschweig had even led the United Kingdom to the brink of revolution. It was the ambition of both parents not only to let their children grow into morally stable personalities, but also to prepare them brilliantly for their future endeavors. At the age of one and a half, Princess Victoria received a teacher who taught her French. At the age of three, German language lessons were also added. The intelligent and eager to learn Princess Victoria lived up to the high demands of her parents; her younger brother Edward, on the other hand, found it much more difficult to study.

The royal family on the terrace of Osborne House

The pragmatic Lady Lyttelton had been appointed as the new head of the nursery . Born Lady Sarah Spencer and widowed Baroness Lyttelton, mother of five children, she was experienced in dealing with young children and had previously served Queen Victoria as lady-in-waiting. She had enough diplomatic skill and wit to dampen the often unrealistically high demands that parents place on their children and reduce them to a more realistic level. The tendency of the two-year-old Prince Edward to throw his wooden cows and soldiers out of the window of Windsor Castle is difficult to see as a precedent for his future behavior, she informed the parents. When Prince Edward's nanny informed the royal parents that the prince was developing signs of a cold and the absent parents reacted with great concern, Lady Littleton replied:

“I can't detect [these signs] myself, but the nurse is probably right. Prince Bertie [d. H. Edward] slept excellent tonight, his appetite and condition are excellent. If he hadn't been so inexplicably pale this morning, I wouldn't attach any importance whatsoever to his three little sneezes. "

The children should be kept away from the potentially corrupting influence of the court for as long as possible. After the Royal Pavilion in Brighton proved unsuitable for family vacations because the children could not go outside without constant prying eyes, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, according to Albert's plans was rebuilt.


Albert took on numerous social tasks. In 1851 he put his idea of ​​the first world exhibition in London into practice. He not only organized it, but also made the plans for the exhibition site, the Crystal Palace . Albert was President of the Royal Agricultural Society of England . In 1847 the University of Cambridge elected him chancellor. Britain's first workers' housing designs were Albert. The houses should be fireproof, have water pipes and flush toilets . In 1860 he was elected a member of the Leopoldina Scholars' Academy . Since 1842 he was an honorary member ("Honorary Fellow") of the Royal Society of Edinburgh .

His passions were composing , agriculture and garden architecture . As a composer he left numerous vocal works. An opera was also part of his work.


Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1861

Prince Albert died on December 14, 1861 at the age of 42, the 22nd year of marriage. Typhus was named as the official cause of death , which could also have been due to the poor sanitary conditions at Windsor Castle. More recent speculations, however, assume stomach cancer or Crohn's disease , since Albert suffered from chronic stomach cramps long before his death. Albert's death left Victoria in utter despair, which she expressed clearly in several letters to her relatives. One week after his death, she wrote to her uncle Leopold I , King of the Belgians:

“My life as a happy person is over! The world is over for me! If I have to go on living, it is for the sake of our fatherless children [...] His generosity was too great, his striving too high for this miserable world! His spirit now lives in the world he deserves! "

Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore

Their grief took on strange forms: his bedroom remained unchanged over the decades, hot water was put in his room every evening, and the bedding was also changed regularly. Victoria is said to have had remorse that her grief would subside over time. She blamed Albert's death on her eldest son and heir to the throne, Albert Eduard , who, due to his dissolute lifestyle, had been visited by the already feverish father three weeks before his death at his university in Cambridge to call him to order. Albert was not in the St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle , but in the Mausoleum of Frogmore in Windsor Castle buried, the Queen Victoria had given especially for them both in order and in which it was later laid next to him to rest 40 years.


The Royal Family at the Christmas Tree, The Illustrated London News , 1848

According to tradition, Prince Albert made the custom of putting up Christmas trees from his German homeland popular in the United Kingdom. After The Illustrated London News printed a picture of the royal family under a Christmas tree in 1848, the custom spread throughout Britain.

In Andreas M. Cramer's book Dinner for One in Goth'sch , it is claimed with a wink that Prince Albert also brought an allegedly German original version of Dinner for One to Great Britain during his visit to Gotha in 1845. During his visit with Victoria to his grandmother Karoline Amalie von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg in Gotha in 1845, he learned from a servant of the Dowager Duchess that she celebrates her birthdays every year in the Winter Palace with her four long-dead friends, who at the request of Karoline Amalies had to be represented by the servant. According to Cramer in his book, Albert liked to tell the amusing story of the strange birthday ritual with friends and often it was described in detail in the memoirs of his private secretary George Anson . In the 1930s, the playwright Lauri Wylie finally came across this story and adapted the basic idea of ​​the lonely birthday dinner for the stage under the title Dinner for One .

The Prince Albert genital piercing is named after Albert. According to an unproven legend, he was said to have worn a ring through the lower part of his glans . He used it to fix his penis to prevent visible bulges in his tight pants. In addition, he wanted to suppress the formation of smegma through the associated permanent retraction of the foreskin .

In addition to numerous other orders, e.g. B. the Order of the Garter , Albert was also a knight of the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle , which King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia had awarded him on January 20, 1842. In addition, the Prince Albert Mountains in Antarctica are named after him.


Albert had nine children with his wife Victoria:

  1. Victoria ("Vicky") (born November 21, 1840 - † August 5, 1901), Princess RoyalFriedrich III., German Emperor and King of Prussia
  2. Albert Edward ("Bertie") (born November 9, 1841; † May 6, 1910), Prince of Wales , as Edward VII King of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India ∞ Princess Alexandra of Denmark
  3. Alice (April 25, 1843 - December 14, 1878) ∞ Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse
  4. Alfred ("Affie") (born August 6, 1844; † July 31, 1900), Duke of Edinburgh and ruling Duke of Saxe-Coburg-GothaGrand Duchess Maria of Russia
  5. Helena ("Lenchen") (* May 25, 1846; † June 6, 1923) ∞ Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
  6. Louise (March 18, 1848 - December 3, 1939) ∞ John Campbell , Duke of Argyll
  7. Arthur (May 1, 1850 - January 16, 1942), Duke of Connaught and StrathearnPrincess Luise Margarete of Prussia
  8. Leopold (7 April 1853 - 28 March 1884), Duke of AlbanyPrincess Helene von Waldeck-Pyrmont
  9. Beatrice (April 14, 1857 - October 26, 1944) ∞ Prince Heinrich von Battenberg

Title & coat of arms

  • August 26, 1819 to November 12, 1826: His Highness Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Duke of Saxony
  • November 12, 1826 to February 6, 1840: His Highness Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony
  • February 6, 1840 to June 25, 1857: His Royal Highness Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony
  • June 25, 1857 to December 14, 1861 His Royal Highness the Prince Consort ( His Royal Highness The Prince Consort)

Names, standing and monuments

The Albert Memorial in London
The Prince Albert Monument in Coburg
  • Prinz-Albert-Gesellschaft , a company based in Coburg with the task of promoting research on scientific, cultural and political aspects of German-British relations.
  • Two angels with swords after a design by Adolf Breymann for the crypt in Frogmore House near Windsor , executed by Georg Ferdinand Howaldt
  • Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens , London
  • Prince Albert monument on the market square of Coburg . The memorial was a gift from Queen Victoria to her late husband's hometown. The Queen attended the ceremonial unveiling of the monument in person on August 26, 1865 during her fifth visit to Coburg.
  • There are also two other Albert memorials in London (at Holborn Circus and right in front of the Royal Albert Hall across from the Albert Memorial). There are also statues of the Prince Consort in Framlingham, Halifax, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford, Wolverhampton (all England), Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow (all Scotland). In Belfast (Northern Ireland) a memorial is integrated into the Albert Memorial Clock Tower and there is also an Albert memorial in Queen's Square in Sydney / Australia .
  • In Bonn , where Prince Albert studied, a street is named after him.
  • In Gambia , the Albert Market , a street market in Banjul , is named after the Prince Consort of Victoria.
  • In New Zealand, the small town of Albert Town is named after him, it is located on the Clutha River / Mata-Au near Wanaka (South Island).
  • There's a statue in Tenby , Wales .
  • The plant genus Saxegothaea Lindl. from the stone slice family (Podocarpaceae) is named after him.
  • The apple variety Lanes Prinz Albert (Lane's Prince Albert) was named after him in 1850 by the English nursery Lane, Berkhamstead.

See also

Film adaptations


Ordered chronologically:

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Pakula, p. 9.
  2. Netzer, p. 57.
  3. Netzer, p. 60.
  4. Netzer, p. 64 and p. 65.
  5. Netzer, p. 62.
  6. Netzer, p. 68.
  7. Ferdinand was the son of Ferdinand Georg August von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld-Koháry , a brother of Prince Leopold and Duke Ernst
  8. Netzer, p. 85.
  9. Erickson, p. 63.
  10. Erickson, p. 65.
  11. Netzer, p. 93.
  12. Netzer, p. 95.
  13. Erickson, p. 92.
  14. a b Erickson, p. 98
  15. Pakula, p. 7 and p. 8.
  16. Erickson, p. 51.
  17. Erickson, pp. 54–59 and Netzer, pp. 122–123.
  18. Erickson, p. 54.
  19. Erickson, pp. 71-72.
  20. Erickson, pp. 91-96 and Netzer, pp. 139-141.
  21. Erickson, p. 97.
  22. Erickson, p. 99.
  23. Erickson, p. 100.
  24. Netzer, p. 146.
  25. Erickson, pp. 99-102.
  26. Netzer, p. 149.
  27. Netzer, p. 151.
  28. Netzer, p. 153.
  29. Netzer, pp. 152 and 154.
  30. Netzer, pp. 155–156.
  31. Netzer, p. 161.
  32. Netzer, p. 181.
  33. a b Netzer, p. 183.
  34. Quoted from Thea Leitner : Die Männer im Schatten , Munich 1999, ISBN 3-492-22324-9 , p. 230.
  35. Netzer, pp. 182 and 186.
  36. Netzer, p. 190.
  37. Pakula, p. 6.
  38. Pakula, p. 20 and Netzer, p. 218.
  39. Networks, p. 216.
  40. Pakula, p. 18.
  41. shaper RSE Fellows 1783-2002. Royal Society of Edinburgh, accessed October 4, 2019 .
  42. Helen Rappaport: Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death That Changed the Monarchy . Random House, 2011, ISBN 978-1-4090-2213-8 ( [accessed December 1, 2019]).
  43. Dinner for One in Goth'sch
  44. ^ Andreas M. Cramer: Dinner for One auf Goth'sch , Gotha 2011, p. 74 f.
  45. Victoria Pitts-Taylor (Ed.): Cultural Encyclopedia of the Body , ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara 2008, ISBN 978-1-56720-691-3 , p. 252, preview in Google Book Search
  46. Source: List of Knights of the Royal Prussian High Order of the Black Eagle , page 210 (35), Decker, Berlin, 1851.
  49. History ( Memento from May 18, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  50. Statues and monuments. The Prince Albert statue. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008 ; Retrieved March 20, 2016 .
  55. Aberdeen, Union Terrace, Statue Of Prince Albert. Retrieved December 27, 2019 .
  59. ^ Prinz-Albert-Straße in the Bonn street cadastre
  60. Description on (accessed on September 3, 2017)
  61. Lotte Burkhardt: Directory of eponymous plant names - extended edition. Part I and II. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin , Freie Universität Berlin , Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-946292-26-5 doi: 10.3372 / epolist2018 .
predecessor government office Successor
Adelheid of Saxe-Meiningen Royal Consort of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Alexandra of Denmark