Prince Alfred of Great Britain

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Prince Alfred
Prince Alfred of Great Britain.jpg
Portrait by Thomas Gainsborough, 1782
Born(1780-09-22)22 September 1780
Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, England
Died20 August 1782(1782-08-20) (aged 1)
Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, England
Burial27 August 1782
House Hanover
Father George III of the United Kingdom
Mother Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Prince Alfred (22 September 1780 20 August 1782) was a member of the British Royal Family as the fourteenth child and ninth and youngest son of King George III and his queen consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Alfred became ill after his inoculation against the smallpox virus; his early death at the age of nearly two, along with the demise of his brother Prince Octavius six months later, was a shock to their parents. In his later bouts of madness King George would have imagined conversations with both of his youngest sons.

George III of the United Kingdom King of Great Britain and Ireland

George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1820. He was concurrently Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire before becoming King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors, he was born in Great Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover.

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz Queen consort of the United Kingdom as the wife of King George III

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the wife of King George III. She served as Queen of Great Britain and Queen of Ireland from her wedding in 1761 until the union of the two kingdoms in 1801, after which she was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1818. She was also the Electress of Hanover in the Holy Roman Empire until the promotion of her husband to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814, after which she was also queen consort of Hanover.

The terms inoculation, vaccination, and immunization are often used synonymously to refer to artificial induction of immunity against various infectious diseases. However, there are some important historical and current differences. In English medicine, inoculation referred only to the practice of variolation until the very early 1800s. When Edward Jenner introduced smallpox vaccine in 1798, this was initially called cowpox inoculation or vaccine inoculation. Soon, to avoid confusion, smallpox inoculation continued to be referred to as variolation and cowpox inoculation was referred to as vaccination. Then, in 1891, Louis Pasteur proposed that the terms vaccine and vaccination should be extended to include the new protective procedures being developed. Immunization refers to the use of all vaccines but also extends to the use of antitoxin, which contains preformed antibody such as to diphtheria or tetanus exotoxins. Inoculation is now more or less synonymous in nontechnical usage with injection and the like, and questions along the lines of "Have you had your flu injection/vaccination/inoculation/immunization?" should not cause confusion. The focus is on what is being given and why, not the literal meaning of the technique used.

Contents

Life

Prince Alfred was born, on 22 September 1780, at Windsor Castle, Windsor, England. [1] His father was King George III, his mother Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The prince was baptised by Frederick Cornwallis, The Archbishop of Canterbury, in the Great Council Chamber at St James's Palace on 21 October 1780. His godparents were The Prince of Wales (his eldest brother), The Prince Frederick (his second brother) and The Princess Royal (his eldest sister). [2] [3] As his parents' fourteenth child and ninth son, his birth was no surprise but it did bring joy to his family, especially to his older sister Sophia, who, their sister Elizabeth reported, called the new baby her "grandson". [4]

Windsor Castle Royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire

Windsor Castle is a royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire. It is notable for its long association with the English and later British royal family and for its architecture.

Windsor, Berkshire town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, England

Windsor is a historic market town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, England. It is widely known as the site of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the British Royal Family.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Death and aftermath

In 1782, Prince Alfred was inoculated against smallpox. The sickness proved too much for the child and in June he was taken to Deal with his governess Lady Charlotte Finch to recover. [5] [6] It was hoped that the sea air, bathing in the water, and horseback riding would improve his condition. While he was there, Alfred endeared himself to many, including an old woman to whom he waved. In spite of his charming disposition, he continued to break out in spots and his chest was troubling him. [5] When he returned to Windsor in August 1782, the doctors inspected him and realized that the boy had only weeks to live. After suffering bouts of fever and continuing problems with his chest, [7] Prince Alfred died on 20 August 1782, at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, not even two years old. [1] [8]

Smallpox eradicated viral disease

Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by one of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in October 1977 and the World Health Organization (WHO) certified the global eradication of the disease in 1980. The risk of death following contracting the disease was about 30%, with higher rates among babies. Often those who survived had extensive scarring of their skin and some were left blind.

Lady Charlotte Finch British noble

Lady Charlotte Finch served as royal governess to the children of King George III and Queen Charlotte for over thirty years, holding the position from 1762 to 1793. She was born to Thomas Fermor, 1st Earl of Pomfret, and his wife Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys, both of whom held court appointments. The couple were educated and frequently travelled with their growing brood of children to the continent. Charlotte, like her sisters, was well-educated; in 1746, she married the Hon. William Finch and had issue including George Finch, 9th Earl of Winchilsea.

Berkshire County of England

Berkshire is one of the home counties in England. It was recognised by the Queen as the Royal County of Berkshire in 1957 because of the presence of Windsor Castle, and letters patent were issued in 1974. Berkshire is a county of historic origin, a ceremonial county and a non-metropolitan county without a county council. The county town is Reading.

Although the household did not go into mourning (it was not prescribed for royal children younger than fourteen), [9] his parents took the loss harshly. According to Lady Charlotte Finch, the Queen "cried vastly" and was "very much hurt by her loss and the King also." [10] Later in August 1782 the Queen sent Finch a lock of Alfred's hair stating "Receive This ... as an Acknowledgement for Your very affectionate attendance upon my dear little Angel Alfred, and wear the inclosed Hair, not only in remembrance of that dear Object, but also as a mark of esteem from Your Affectionate Queen". [11] Alfred was buried at Westminster Abbey, [12] though his remains were later moved to the Royal Vault in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on 11 February 1820. [13] [14] [15] His father continued to dwell on his death, and the sight of Alfred's posthumous portrait in a family painting by Thomas Gainsborough nearly a year after Alfred's death sent his three eldest sisters into tears. [16] Six months after Alfred's death, his elder brother Octavius succumbed to the smallpox virus, further devastating the king. [17] [18] During one of his bouts of madness in 1812, George would have imaginary conversations with his two youngest sons. [note 1]

Westminster Abbey Church in London

Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom's most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Between 1540 and 1556, the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of England "Royal Peculiar"—a church responsible directly to the sovereign.

Thomas Gainsborough 18th-century English portrait and landscape painter

Thomas Gainsborough FRSA was an English portrait and landscape painter, draughtsman, and printmaker. Along with his bitter rival Sir Joshua Reynolds, he is considered one of the most important British portrait artists of the second half of the 18th century. He painted quickly, and the works of his maturity are characterised by a light palette and easy strokes. Despite being a prolific portrait painter, Gainsborough gained greater satisfaction from his landscapes. He is credited as the originator of the 18th-century British landscape school. Gainsborough was a founding member of the Royal Academy.

Prince Octavius of Great Britain British prince

Prince Octavius was the thirteenth child and eighth son of King George III and his queen consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Six months after the death of his brother Prince Alfred, Octavius was inoculated with the smallpox virus. Several days later, he became ill. His subsequent death at the age of four devastated his parents, and in particular his father. George bemoaned the death of his son, of whom he was exceedingly fond; the king's later bouts of madness would involve hallucinations of his two youngest sons.

His youngest sister Princess Amelia was conceived in the months after Alfred's death, born almost exactly a year after he died. [19] The first of George III and Queen Charlotte's children to die, [12] [20] Alfred died nearly seventy five years before his older sister Mary, who was the last survivor of George III and Queen Charlotte's fifteen children. [21] Alfred is also unique among their first fourteen children for never being an older sibling while he was alive, as the only child younger than him was born after his death. [22]

Princess Amelia of the United Kingdom daughter of King George III of the United Kingdom

Princess Amelia of the United Kingdom was the fifteenth and last child and sixth daughter of King George III of the United Kingdom and his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She was their first daughter to die and third child to die before them.

Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh British princess

Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh was the eleventh child and fourth daughter of King George III of the United Kingdom and his consort Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Title and style

Ancestry

Notes

  1. Jeremy Black lists these conversations occurring in 1812, [17] while Kenneth Panton believes they happened the previous year, in 1811. [12] The King's last bout of madness occurred from 1811 until his death in 1820, so either date is possible.

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References

  1. 1 2 Weir 2008, p. 300.
  2. Sheppard 1894, p. 59.
  3. Watkins 1819, p. 276.
  4. Fraser 2004, p. 70.
  5. 1 2 Fraser 2004, p. 75.
  6. Watkins 1819, p. 282.
  7. Fraser 2004, pp. 75-76.
  8. Holt 1820, p. 251.
  9. Fritz 1982, p. 305.
  10. Fraser 2004, p. 76.
  11. "RA GEO/ADD/15/443a-b - Letter from Queen Charlotte to Lady Charlotte Finch, probably August 1782". Georgian Papers Project. Royal Collection Trust . Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  12. 1 2 3 Panton 2011, p. 39.
  13. "Royal Burials in the Chapel since 1805". College of St. George. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  14. "Royal Burials in the Chapel by location". College of St. George. Archived from the original on 22 January 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  15. Holt 1820, p. 256.
  16. Fraser 2004, p. 77.
  17. 1 2 Black 2006, p. 156.
  18. Fraser 2004, pp. 74-77.
  19. Fraser 2004, p. 78.
  20. Hibbert 2000, p. 99.
  21. Fraser 2004, pp. 398-399.
  22. Fraser 2004.
  23. Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 5.

Bibliography

Jeremy Black MBE is a British historian and a professor of history at the University of Exeter. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of America and the West at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. He is the author of over 100 books, principally but not exclusively on 18th-century British politics and international relations, and has been described as "the most prolific historical scholar of our age".

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.