On This Day: Prince Albert Victor Dies
125 years ago, the second in line to the British throne – Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale – passed away at Sandringham House at the age of 28. He had contracted influenza, which developed in pneumonia.
His family were devastated by his unexpected death, none more so than his mother, the Princess of Wales, who said after Prince Albert Victor’s funeral on January 20, she had “buried my angel and with him my happiness.” The Prince was buried in the Albert Memorial Chapel at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Born two months premature in January 1864 at Frogmore House, Albert Victor – ‘Eddy’ to the family – was the first child of Edward, Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) and Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Joined by five siblings over the next seven years (though the youngest, Prince Alexander John, only lived for a day), Eddy and the other Wales children enjoyed a very close relationship with their mother, whom they called ‘Motherdear’.
Prince Albert Victor and his brother, Prince George, were educated together by John Neale Dalton; before they were both made to join the Royal Navy when Eddy was 14. Though heavily discussed, the brothers were not separated because their tutor felt George was a good influence on Eddy in regards to his desire to learn or put effort into his studies. They embarked on a three-year tour with HMS Bacchante in 1879. Prince Albert Victor was described as not academically minded, and was regarded as ‘slow’ in his ability to learn new languages and subject matter (his time at Trinity College, Cambridge was not effective, as Eddy was more interested in the social aspects of university life than education); though his grasp of the political situations of the time appeared to be quite good.
As a young adult, the Prince was sent on a number of visits on behalf of his grandmother, Queen Victoria, around the country and also on a major tour of India at the end of 1889 (rumour at the time was the trip was planned to get Eddy out of London after the Cleveland St male brothel scandal that gossip linked the Prince to – the trip though had been months in the making. This was not the only scandal Eddy was rumoured to be involved with, as many years after his death it was speculated he was actually Jack the Ripper, which evidence proved to be impossible).
Upon his return to England, the Queen began her matchmaking in earnest to find Prince Albert Victor a suitable wife (her first choice, Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, had already expressed her disinterest in a match with the Prince). Eddy fell in love with Princess Hélène of Orleans, and the couple were hoping to marry despite Hélène’s Roman Catholicism – she was happy to convert, but her father and the Pope refused to approve the marriage, forcing the couple to part ways. It was then to the ‘suitable’ Princess Mary of Teck, who Eddy proposed to in December 1891.
Prince Eddy’s death changed the course of the British Royal Family, brining his younger brother (who married Princess Mary in 1893) to the throne as King on the death of their father in 1910.Filed under Historical Royals, The United Kingdom
Tagged Albert Victor Duke of Clarence and Avondale, Anniversary, Biography, Death.