PRINCE ALBERT Biography - Royalty, Rulers & leaders


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Name: Francis Albert Charles Augustus Emanuel                                           
Born: 26 August 1819 Rosenau Castle, Coburg, Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld                       
Died: 14 December 1861 Windsor Castle, Berkshire, England                               
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Francis Albert Charles Augustus Emanuel,         
later HRH The Prince Consort; 26 August 1819 - 14 December 1861) was the husband         
and consort of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.       
He was the only husband of a British Queen to have formally held the title of           
Prince Consort. Upon Queen Victoria's death in 1901, the House of Saxe-Coburg           
and Gotha, named after the territory of the branch of the Saxon ducal family to         
which Albert belonged, succeeded the House of Hanover on the British throne.             
Albert was born at Schloss Rosenau near Coburg (formerly in the Duchy of Saxony,         
now in the state of Bavaria, Germany), as the second son of Ernest I, Duke of           
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his first wife, Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Albert's       
aunt, Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, had married Edward Augustus, Duke of             
Kent, the fourth son of King George III of the United Kingdom. She was the               
mother of the future Queen Victoria. Thus Albert and his future wife were first         
cousins. They were also born in the same year with the assistance of the same           
Albert and his elder brother, Ernest, spent their youth in a close companionship         
scarred by their parents' turbulent marriage and eventual separation and divorce.       
Their mother was exiled from court and married, as her second husband, her lover,       
Alexander von Hanstein, Count of Polzig-Baiersdorf. She probably never saw her           
children again and died of cancer at the age of 30 in 1831. The following               
year, their father married his own niece and their cousin, Princess Mary of             
Württemberg, but the marriage was not close, and Mary had little, if any, input         
into her stepchildren's lives.                                                           
The brothers were educated at first by private tutors and later at the                   
University of Bonn, like many other princes. There Albert studied law, political         
economy, philosophy, and art history, played music and excelled in gymnastics,           
especially fencing and riding. His teachers included Fichte and Schlegel.               
By 1836, the idea of marriage between Albert and the heir to the British throne,         
his cousin Princess Victoria of Kent (as she was then titled), had arisen in the         
mind of their ambitious uncle, Leopold, created King of the Belgians in 1831.           
Leopold arranged for his sister, Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent, to             
invite the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his two sons to visit her in May           
1836, with the purpose of meeting Victoria. The visit did not by any means suit         
Victoria's uncle, William IV, who disapproved of any match with the Coburgs, and         
favoured Prince Alexander, second son of William II of the Netherlands. Victoria         
was well-aware of the various matrimonial plans and critically appraised a               
parade of eligible princes. She wrote of Albert, "[He] is extremely handsome;           
his hair is about the same colour as mine; his eyes are large and blue, and he           
has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth; but the charm of           
his countenance is his expression, which is most delightful." Alexander, on the         
other hand, was "very plain".                                                           
Victoria, writing to her uncle Leopold, thanked him "for the prospect of great           
happiness you have contributed to give me, in the person of dear Albert…He             
possesses every quality that could be desired to render me perfectly happy."             
The parties undertook no formal engagement, but the family and their retainers           
widely assumed that the match would take place.                                         
After Victoria came to the throne on 20 June 1837, her letters show her interest         
in Albert's education for the part he would have to play though she resisted             
attempts to rush her into marriage. In the winter of 1838–1839 the prince             
travelled in Italy, accompanied by the Coburg family's confidential adviser,             
Baron Stockmar.                                                                         
In October 1839, he and Ernest went again to England to visit the Queen, with           
the object of finally settling the marriage. Albert and Victoria felt mutual             
affection and the Queen proposed to him on 15 October 1839. Her intention to             
marry was declared formally to the Privy Council on 23 November. The couple             
married on 10 February 1840 at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace. Four days           
before the wedding, his future wife granted Prince Albert the style of Royal             
Highness by an Order-in-Council and made him a member of the Privy Council.             
However the British Prime Minister at the time, Lord Melbourne, advised the             
Queen against granting her husband the title of "King Consort". Parliament even         
refused to countenance making Albert a peer (unlike Prince George of Denmark,           
the husband of the future Queen Anne, who had been made Duke of Cumberland by           
King William III in April 1689) partly because of anti-German feeling and a             
desire to exclude Albert from any political role. Melbourne led a minority               
government and the opposition took advantage of the marriage to weaken his               
position further. They opposed the ennoblement of Albert and granted him a               
smaller allowance than previous consorts. On the issue of Parliament                     
refusing to grant him a peerage, Albert wrote, "It would almost be step                 
downwards, for as a Duke of Saxony, I feel myself much higher than as a Duke of         
York or Kent." Although he was formally titled "HRH Prince Albert", he was               
popularly known as "HRH the Prince Consort" for the next seventeen years. On 29         
June 1857, Queen Victoria formally granted him the title Prince Consort by an           
The position in which the prince was placed by his marriage, while one of               
distinguished honour, also offered considerable difficulties; and during his             
lifetime the tactful way in which he filled it was inadequately appreciated. The         
public life of the Prince Consort cannot be separated from that of the Queen, so         
most of what he accomplished was tied to her accomplishments.                           
British Royalty                                                                         
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha                                                           
Descendants of Victoria & Albert                                                         
Victoria, Princess Royal                                                                 
Edward VII                                                                               
Princess Alice                                                                           
Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha                                                     
Princess Helena                                                                         
Princess Louise                                                                         
Arthur, Duke of Connaught                                                               
Leopold, Duke of Albany                                                                 
Princess Beatrice                                                                       
Nonetheless, he was thought to have undue influence in politics, and the                 
prejudice against him never fully dissipated until after his death.                     
Within two months of the marriage, Victoria was pregnant. Albert started to take         
on public roles, for example becoming President of the Society for the                   
Extinction of Slavery (slavery had been abolished throughout the British Empire         
already but was still lawful in the United States and the colonies of France),           
and help Victoria privately with her government paperwork. In June 1840,                 
Albert and the pregnant Victoria were shot at by Edward Oxford, who was later           
judged insane, while on a public carriage ride. Neither was hurt and Albert was         
praised in the newspapers for his courage and coolness during the attack.               
Albert was gaining public support as well as political influence, which showed           
itself practically when, in August, Parliament passed the Regency Act 1840,             
which designated him Regent in the event of Victoria's death before their child         
reached the age of majority. Their first child, Victoria, named after her               
mother, was born in November. Eight other children would follow over the next           
seventeen years.                                                                         
The royal couple were again shot at on 29 and 30 May 1842, but were again unhurt.       
The culprit, John Francis, was detained and condemned to death, though later             
reprieved. Some of their early unpopularity came about because of their                 
stiffness and adherence to protocol in public, though in private the couple were         
more easy-going. In early 1844, Victoria and Albert were apart for the first             
time since their marriage when he returned to Coburg on the death of his father.         
By 1844, Albert had managed the modernization the royal finances and through             
various economies had sufficient capital to purchase Osborne House on the Isle           
of Wight as a private residence for their growing family. Over the next few             
years the original house was demolished and a completely new seaside palace,             
modelled in the style of an Italianate villa, was built.                                 
As the prince became better known, public distrust began to give way. In 1847,           
but only after a significantly keen contest with Earl Powis, he was elected             
chancellor of the University of Cambridge. The following year, Powis was                 
killed accidentally by his own son during a pheasant shoot. Albert used his             
position to campaign for reformed and more modern university curricula.                 
Victoria and Albert enjoyed a wet summer holiday in the west of Scotland at Loch         
Laggan in 1847, but heard from their doctor, Sir James Clark, that his son had           
enjoyed dry, sunny days further east at Balmoral Castle. The tenant of Balmoral,         
Sir Robert Gordon, died suddenly in early October, and Albert began negotiations         
to take over the lease of the castle from the owner, Earl Fife.                         
Revolutions spread throughout Europe in 1848 as the result of a widespread               
economic crisis. Throughout the year, Victoria and Albert complained about               
Foreign Secretary Palmerston's independent foreign policy, which they believed           
destabilized foreign European powers further. Albert was concerned for many             
of his royal relatives, a number of whom were deposed, and he and Victoria, who         
gave birth to their daughter Louise during the year, spent some time in the             
relative safety of Osborne, away from London. Though there were sporadic                 
demonstrations in England, no effective revolutionary action took place, and             
Albert even gained public acclaim for a speech in which he expressed                     
paternalistic, yet well-meaning and philanthropic, views. "Wealth is an accident         
of society", he said, those that enjoyed its benefits had a duty to those who           
were, through accident, deprived of it. In May, Albert purchased the lease               
for Balmoral, having never visited it, and in September he, his wife and the             
older children went there for the first time. They came to relish the                   
privacy it afforded.