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Old 02-02-2019, 04:24 PM
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Athens, Greece
Posts: 7
Alfred, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1874-1899) - QV's grandson

Hello, guys!

So, I'm new here and I love learning about the lives of princes and heirs who died young. I have this interest for Alfred, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the son of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh and youngest grandson of Queen Victoria. He was also a grandson of Alexander II of Russia.

He died at 24 under still unclear circumstances. Some say he shot himself, his sister said simply that his health broke down. There was an engagement between him and Duchess Elsa Matilda Marie, elder twin daughter of the late Duke William Eugene of Württemberg by his marriage with the Grand Duchess Vera of Russia, but the marriage never occurred if there even was a courtship.

I would like to know more about his life and personality. Why didn't he marry? Was there any love interests for him? What were his relationships with his Russian cousins, most specifically Nicholas II and Grand Duke George Alexandrovich? And are there any primary sources surviving in the Royal Archives?

Also, is there any book with good information about him? Such as John Van Der Kiste's biography of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh or something?

Feel free to share some photos if you have any.

Many thanks, guys.

Best Wishes,

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Old 02-02-2019, 04:30 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Somewhere, Suriname
Posts: 3,053
I don't know much about him but I assume the reason that he didn't marry was because he was still considered rather young, so he most likely wasn't in a hurry to get married.

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Old 02-02-2019, 06:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Bellevue, United States
Posts: 853
He led a dissipated life (mistresses & debts) and suffered from poor health (including syphilis).

His mother had this to say about him, in a letter to his sister Marie Crown Princess of Romania, dated April 11, 1898:

"What is to be done about Alfred, he seems hopeless. I ignored him totally for Easter and he was quite alone at Potsdam. He simply disgusts me and I send him through Ruxleben very painful messages and refused to pay his new debts for his dirty mistress. A charming son, who pays his low love affairs with his mother's money! But Papa does not know all these last charming details. All this happened a day or two since his return."

Source: Diana Mandache, Dearest Missy: The Correspondence between Marie, Grand Duchess of Russia, Duchess of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and her Daughter, Marie, Crown Princess of Romania, 1879-1900 (Rosvall Royal Books, 2011), p. 337.

Royal expert Marlene Koenig wrote about him on her blog as well as a lengthier article available for purchase:

Royal Musings: An Engagement broken: Hereditary Prince Alfred of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duchess Elsa of Wurttemberg
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Old 02-02-2019, 06:26 PM
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Location: London, United Kingdom
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As I recall he tried to kill himself... his mother was furious with him... and he died from after effects of the shooting and his bad health
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Old 02-03-2019, 01:51 AM
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 6,645
I have the van der Kiste bio on Affie but there's not an awful lot on Young Alfred in it. He had rather an unhappy childhood. His father was away due to his naval career for much of the time, his mother Marie was quite unsympathetic and a rigid disciplinarian. Alfred loved his sisters but he was placed quite early under a bullying German tutor and virtually separated from them.

This is what I've gathered from the bio, from the Alfred Duke of Edinburgh and his family thread at the Alexander Forum (which I've always found a marvellous history resource) and from his sister Marie's biography by Hannah Pakula.

In Alfred's later teens he was placed in a very smart but quite louche Prussian cavalry regiment in Berlin (again separate from his family) and fell into bad habits there, leading a rather debauched lifestyle. By 1898 syphilis had him in its grip. His mother was impatient as was his sister Victoria Melita (Ducky) who refused to allow him to visit her that year, though apparently a long visit to Egypt was planned for him and Ernest Duke of Hesse and Ducky that winter.

However by Jan 1899 Alfred was painfully thin, could hardly walk and was becoming incoherent in speech. His sister Marie, in Coburg for her parents anniversary, was horrified at his condition. He died soon after his parents silver wedding anniversary, which he was not allowed to attend. (By then he'd reputedly shot himself anyway.) It was advised that he not be moved but was an embarrassment and was sent away anyway, and shortly died.
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Old 02-03-2019, 08:53 AM
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Durham, United States
Posts: 24
Alfred is part of a long list of princes whose parents were not caring enough to ensure that their heir was surrounded by talented men of integrity.

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