Alfred, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Alfred, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, KG, (Alfred Alexander William Ernest Albert; 15 October 1874 – 6 February 1899), was the son and heir apparent of Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He died aged 24 under circumstances still not entirely clear. He was a first cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, King George V of the United Kingdom and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Prince Alfred of Saxe Coburg Gotha.jpg
BornPrince Alfred of Edinburgh
(1874-10-15)15 October 1874
Buckingham Palace, London
Died6 February 1899(1899-02-06) (aged 24)
Sanatorium Martinsbrunn, Meran, Austria-Hungary
Alfred Alexander William Ernest Albert
HouseSaxe-Coburg and Gotha
FatherAlfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
MotherGrand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia

Early lifeEdit

Prince Alfred of Edinburgh was born on 15 October 1874 at Buckingham Palace, London. His father was Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, second eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. His mother, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, was a daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine.

Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury, baptised the prince in the Lower Bow Room of Buckingham Palace on 23 November 1874. His godparents were the Queen, the Emperor of Russia (whose son Tsesarevich Alexander stood proxy for him), the German Emperor (for whom Alfred's paternal uncle Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn stood proxy), the German Crown Princess (Alfred's paternal aunt, for whom her sister Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein stood proxy), the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (his paternal grand-uncle, for whom Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein stood proxy), and the Prince of Wales (his paternal uncle).[1]

Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and GothaEdit

In 1893, his granduncle, Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the elder brother of his paternal grandfather, died without legitimate heirs. Being ineligible under Saxe-Coburg-Gotha house law to succeed to the duchy due to his status as the heir apparent to an existing throne,[2] the Prince of Wales had previously renounced his claim to the ducal throne. Thus, the succession devolved to Alfred's father, who was at that time the Duke of Edinburgh. Alfred thus became the Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Prince Alfred had lived in Clarence House in the early years of his life with his parents and sisters; after his father's accession to the ducal throne of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, he moved to Schloss Rosenau, near Coburg.


A group photograph of the family of Hereditary Prince Alfred of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha celebrating his majority, Coburg, 1892

On 23 January 1899 Maria Alexandrovna and her husband celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary at Schloss Friedestein, the Duke's official residence in Gotha.[3][4] Absent from the festivities was their only son, who was gravely ill.[3]

The exact circumstances of Alfred's death are not known, and varying accounts have been published. His sister Marie's memoirs simply say his health "broke down", and other writers have said that he had "consumption".[5]: 62  The Times published an account stating he had died of a tumor,[5]: 62  while the Complete Peerage gives the generally accepted account that he "shot himself".[6]

Various authors have speculated on reasons why he might have killed himself. One author, Frank Bush, claimed to have been a descendant of a secret marriage between Alfred and Mabel Fitzgerald, granddaughter of the 4th Duke of Leinster, and claimed that friction between Alfred and his family over the "secret marriage" was the cause of the suicide.[5]: 176, fn. 2 [a] Despite the lack of documentary evidence, and the lack of contemporary reference, other authors have repeated Bush's assertion that Alfred and Mabel married, including John van der Kiste and Bee Jordaan in Dearest Affie, and the assertion is repeated as fact in the official family history (Das Haus von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha).[2]

According to rumors, Alfred shot himself with a revolver while the rest of the family was gathered for the anniversary celebration. He survived and was looked after at Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha (Thuringia) for three days before being sent to the Martinsbrunn Sanatorium in Gratsch near Meran in the County of Tyrol (Austria-Hungary, now Italy). Alfred died there at 4:15 pm on 6 February 1899, aged 24 years.[2] He was buried in the ducal mausoleum of the Friedhof am Glockenberg, Coburg, Bavaria (southern Germany).[7]: 47 

After his death, Alfred's uncle the Duke of Connaught and his son Prince Arthur of Connaught renounced their succession rights to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in July 1899. As a result, his first cousin Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany, became heir presumptive.[8]

Titles, styles, honours and armsEdit

Titles and stylesEdit

  • 15 October 1874 – 23 August 1893: His Royal Highness Prince Alfred of Edinburgh[9]
  • 23 August 1893 – 6 February 1899: His Royal Highness The Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha[10]


He received the following orders and decorations:[11]


As a male-line grandson of the British Sovereign, young Alfred bore the royal arms, with an inescutcheon of the shield of Saxony, all differenced by a label argent of five points, the odd bearing crosses gules and even anchors azure.[17]

Coat of arms of Prince Alfred of Edinburgh



  1. ^ Unfortunately for this theory, which was first published in the 1940s, and for Bush's claimed ancestry, there is no evidence Alfred and Mabel ever met; at the time of their alleged civil and religious marriages in 1898 (of which no records exist) Mabel was under 14 years old, and when Mabel contracted a documented marriage to William Clarke Hadoke in 1910 she is described as a spinster rather than a widow.[5]: 176, fn. 2 


  1. ^ Demoskoff, Yvonne (27 December 2005). "Christenings of the Royal Family". Yvonne's Royalty Home Page. Archived from the original on 6 August 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Sandner, Harold (2004). "II.4.2 Erbprinz Alfred". Das Haus von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha 1826 bis 2001 (in German). Andreas, Prinz von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (preface). 96450 Coburg: Neue Presse GmbH. pp. 155–156. ISBN 3-00-008525-4.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  3. ^ a b Mandache, Dearest Missy, p. 373
  4. ^ Beéche, The Coburgs of Europe, p. 83.
  5. ^ a b c d Eilers Koenig, Marlene A. (1997). Queen Victoria's Descendants. Falköping, Sweden: Rosvall Royal Books. ISBN 91-630-5964-9.
  6. ^ Cokayne, George Edward (April 1982). The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, or Dormant. Vol. 5 (Reprint of 1982 ed.). Gloucester, England: Sutton Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 0-904387-82-8.
  7. ^ Klüglein, Norbert (1991). Coburg Stadt und Land (German). Verkehrsverein Coburg.
  8. ^ "SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA". The Inquirer & Commercial News. 7 July 1899. p. 10 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "The London Gazette, Issue 26184, Page 3860". 20 July 1891.
  10. ^ "The London Gazette, Issue 26947, Page 1609". 14 March 1898.
  11. ^ "Prince Alfred of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1874–1899)". Archived from the original on 3 January 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  12. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 69
  13. ^ "Ludewigs-orden", Großherzoglich Hessische Ordensliste (in German), Darmstadt: Staatsverlag, 1898, p. 9 – via
  14. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch für das Herzogtum S.-Meiningen (1896), "Herzogliche Sachsen-Ernestinischer Hausorden" p. 20
  15. ^ Staatshandbuch für das Großherzogtum Sachsen / Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1896), "Großherzogliche Hausorden" p. 16
  16. ^ "Liste des Membres de l'Ordre de Léopold", Almanach Royale Belgique (in French), Bruxelles, 1899, p. 72 – via
  17. ^ Velde, François R. (5 August 2013). "Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family: Houses of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha/Windsor/Windsor-Mountbatten (since 1837)". Chicago: self-published. Retrieved 11 September 2017.

External linksEdit

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