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Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse

Frederick Charles Louis Constantine, Prince and Landgrave of Hesse (1 May 1868 – 28 May 1940), Friedrich Karl Ludwig Konstantin Prinz und Landgraf von Hessen-Kassel in German, was the brother-in-law of the German Emperor Wilhelm II. He was elected King of Finland on 9 October 1918, but renounced the throne on 14 December 1918. During his brief reign he was known in Finnish as Frederik Kaarle, King of Finland.

Frederick Charles
Hessenin prnssi Friedrich Karl - Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse.jpg
King-elect of Finland
Reign9 October 1918 –
14 December 1918
SuccessorKaarlo Juho Ståhlberg (as President)
RegentP. E. Svinhufvud
C. G. E. Mannerheim
Born(1868-05-01)1 May 1868
Gut Panker, Plön, Kingdom of Prussia
Died28 May 1940(1940-05-28) (aged 72)
Kassel, Nazi Germany
Schloss Friedrichshof, Kronberg im Taunus, Germany
IssuePrince Friedrich Wilhelm
Prince Maximilian
Philipp, Landgrave of Hesse
Prince Wolfgang
Prince Christoph
Prince Richard
Full name
Frederick Charles Louis Constantine
FatherFrederick William, Landgrave of Hesse
MotherPrincess Anna of Prussia

Early life and marriageEdit

Frederick was born at his family's manor, Gut Panker, in Plön, Holstein. He was the third son of Frederick William of Hesse, Landgrave of Hesse, and his second wife Princess Anna of Prussia, daughter of Prince Charles of Prussia and Princess Marie Louise of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. Frederick William, a Danish military officer, had been one (and perhaps the foremost) of the candidates of Christian VIII of Denmark in the 1840s to succeed to the Danish throne if the latter's male line died out, but renounced his rights to the throne in 1851 in favor of his sister, Louise. Frederick William was of practically Danish upbringing, having lived all his life in Denmark, but in 1875, when the senior branch of Hesse-Kassel became extinct, he settled in northern Germany, where the House had substantial landholdings.

Prince Frederick Charles and Princess Margaret of Prussia in 1893.

On 25 January 1893, Frederick Charles married Princess Margaret of Prussia, youngest sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. They had six children, all sons, including two sets of twins:

Upon their father's death in 1884, Frederick's eldest brother Frederick William became the head of the House of Hesse, and afterwards his next brother Alexander.

The Finnish throneEdit

The crown planned for the King of Finland

Frederick Charles was elected the King of Finland by the Parliament of Finland on 9 October 1918. However, with the end of World War I, in light of his German birth and the abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany ending monarchies in Germany, the arrangement was quickly considered untenable by influential Finns of the time and by Frederick himself. Not much is known of the official stance of the victorious Allied Powers. Frederick Charles renounced the throne on 14 December 1918, without ever arriving in the country, much less taking up his position. Finland then adopted a republican constitution.

Later lifeEdit

Landgrave Alexander Frederick of Hesse abdicated as the head of the House of Hesse on 16 March 1925, and was succeeded by Frederick Charles, his younger brother.

At Frederick's death, his eldest surviving son, Philipp, succeeded him as head.

However, according to certain family documents and correspondence, his successor as King of Finland would have been his second surviving son Prince Wolfgang of Hesse (1896–1989), apparently because Wolfgang was with his parents in 1918 and ready to travel to Finland, where a wedding to a Finnish lady was already in preparation for the coming Crown Prince. Philipp was in the military and unable to be contacted at the time. This choice of the younger of the twins, however, was not intended to mean that in future generations, the kingship would have been passed on through secundogeniture, with the eldest son always succeeding to the Hesse title (according to Dr. Vesa Vares). On the contrary, it is practically inconceivable that succession of a kingdom would depend on secondary consideration. The source Viini 2/2007 (in Finnish) indicates a view that until his death Moritz of Hesse was the current successor, and prince Donatus was the heir.

Titles, styles and honoursEdit

Titles and stylesEdit

  • 1 May 1868 – 13 October 1888: His Highness Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse
  • 14 October 1888 – 15 March 1925: His Royal Highness The Hereditary Prince of Hesse
  • 16 March 1925 – 28 May 1940: His Royal Highness The Landgrave of Hesse




  1. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch für des Herzogtum Anhalt (1894), "Herzoglicher Haus-Orden Albrecht des Bären" p. 17
  2. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1910), "Großherzogliche Orden" p. 41
  3. ^ a b Justus Perthes, Almanach de Gotha 1913 (1913) pages 44
  4. ^ Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 465. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
  5. ^ Staatshandbuch für das Großherzogtum Sachsen / Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1900), "Großherzogliche Hausorden" p. 17
  6. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 212
  • Large article on Helsingin Sanomat newspaper about Friedrich Karl and his descendants, including the current "pretender" for the throne.
  • Nash, Michael L (2012) The last King of Finland. Royalty Digest Quarterly, 2012 : 1

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse
Born: 1 May 1868 Died: 28 May 1940
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Alexander Frederick
Head of the House of Hesse Succeeded by
Landgraf Philipp
Titles in pretence
Kingdom abolished — TITULAR —
King of Finland and Karelia
14 December 1918 – 28 May 1940
Reason for succession failure:
Kingdom abolished in 1918
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Alexander Frederick
Elector of Hesse