Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany

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Prince Leopold
Duke of Albany
Born(1853-04-07)7 April 1853
Buckingham Palace, London, United Kingdom
Died28 March 1884(1884-03-28) (aged 30)
Cannes, France
Burial5 April 1884
Full name
Leopold George Duncan Albert
House Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Father Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Mother Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom

Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, KG , KT , GCSI , GCMG , GCStJ (Leopold George Duncan Albert; 7 April 1853 28 March 1884) was the eighth child and youngest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Leopold was later created Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence, and Baron Arklow. He had haemophilia, which led to his death at the age of 30.

Queen Victoria British monarch who reigned 1837–1901

Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India.

Albert, Prince Consort Husband of Queen Victoria

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was the husband of Queen Victoria.

Duke of Albany

Duke of Albany was a peerage title that has occasionally been bestowed on the younger sons in the Scottish and later the British royal family, particularly in the Houses of Stuart and Windsor.


Early life

Prince Leopold in 1868 Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany by W&D Downey, 1868.png
Prince Leopold in 1868

Leopold was born on 7 April 1853 at Buckingham Palace, London, the eighth child and youngest son of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. During labour, Queen Victoria chose to use chloroform and thus sanctioned the use of anesthesia in childbirth, recently developed by Professor James Young Simpson. The chloroform was administered by John Snow. [1] As a son of the British sovereign, the newborn was styled His Royal Highness The Prince Leopold at birth. His parents named him Leopold after their common uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium.

Buckingham Palace Official London residence and principal workplace of the British monarch

Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focal point for the British people at times of national rejoicing and mourning.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Chloroform, or trichloromethane, is an organic compound with formula CHCl3. It is a colorless, sweet-smelling, dense liquid that is produced on a large scale as a precursor to PTFE. It is also a precursor to various refrigerants. It is one of the four chloromethanes and a trihalomethane. It is a powerful anesthetic, euphoriant, anxiolytic and sedative when inhaled or ingested.

He was baptised in the Private Chapel of Buckingham Palace on 28 June 1853 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Bird Sumner. His godparents were his first cousin once removed, King George V of Hanover; his fourth cousin once removed, Princess William of Prussia; his first cousin once removed, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge; and his maternal uncle by marriage, Prince Ernst of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

Archbishop of Canterbury senior bishop of the Church of England

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Justin Welby, who was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. Welby is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, the "Apostle to the English", sent from Rome in the year 597. Welby succeeded Rowan Williams.

John Bird Sumner Archbishop of Canterbury; Bishop of Chester; British Anglican bishop

John Bird Sumner was a bishop in the Church of England and Archbishop of Canterbury.

George V of Hanover King of Hanover

George V was the last king of Hanover, the only child and successor of King Ernest Augustus. George V's reign was ended during the Unification of Germany.

Leopold inherited the disease haemophilia from his mother, Queen Victoria, and was a delicate child. There was speculation during his life that Leopold also suffered mildly from epilepsy, [2] like his grand-nephew Prince John.

Haemophilia in European royalty

Haemophilia figured prominently in the history of European royalty in the 19th and 20th centuries. Britain's Queen Victoria, through two of her five daughters, Princess Alice and Princess Beatrice, passed the mutation to various royal houses across the continent, including the royal families of Spain, Germany and Russia. Victoria's son Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany also suffered from the disease. For this reason, haemophilia was once popularly called "the royal disease". Tests on the remains of the Romanov imperial family show that the specific form of haemophilia passed down by Queen Victoria was probably the relatively rare Haemophilia B.

Prince John of the United Kingdom UK prince

Prince John of the United Kingdom was the fifth son and youngest of the six children born to King George V and his wife, Queen Mary. At the time of John's birth, his father was the Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, King Edward VII. In 1910, George succeeded to the throne upon Edward's death and John became fifth in the line of succession to the British throne.

Education and career

The Prince's intellectual abilities were evident as a boy; Poet Laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and his friend, philosopher James Martineau, were familiar with the Queen's children and had noted that Leopold, who had often "conversed with the eminent Dr. Martineau, was considered to be a young man of a very thoughtful mind, high aims, and quite remarkable acquirements". [3]

Alfred, Lord Tennyson 19th-century British poet laureate

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson was a British poet. He was the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets. In 1829, Tennyson was awarded the Chancellor's Gold Medal at Cambridge for one of his first pieces, "Timbuktu". He published his first solo collection of poems, Poems Chiefly Lyrical in 1830. "Claribel" and "Mariana", which remain some of Tennyson's most celebrated poems, were included in this volume. Although decried by some critics as overly sentimental, his verse soon proved popular and brought Tennyson to the attention of well-known writers of the day, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Tennyson's early poetry, with its medievalism and powerful visual imagery, was a major influence on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

James Martineau English religious philosopher

James Martineau was an English religious philosopher influential in the history of Unitarianism.

Oxford University

In 1872, Prince Leopold entered Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied a variety of subjects and became president of the Oxford University Chess Club. On coming of age in 1874, he had been made a privy councillor and granted an annuity of £15,000. [4] He left the university with an honorary doctorate in civil law (DCL) in 1876, then travelled in Europe. In 1880, he toured Canada and the United States with his sister, Princess Louise, whose husband John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne, was Governor General of Canada. He was a prominent patron of chess, and the London 1883 chess tournament was held under his patronage. [5] Incapable of pursuing a military career because of his haemophilia and the need to avoid even minor injuries, Leopold instead became a patron of the arts and literature and served as an unofficial secretary to his mother. "Leopold was the favourite son, and through him her relations with the Government of the day were usually kept up." [6] Later he pursued vice-regal appointments in Canada and the Colony of Victoria, but his mother refused to appoint him, to his great unhappiness.

Christ Church, Oxford constituent college of the University of Oxford in England

Christ Church is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Christ Church is a joint foundation of the college and the cathedral of the Oxford diocese, which serves as the college chapel and whose dean is ex officio the college head.

Oxford University Chess Club

The Oxford University Chess Club (OUCC) was founded at the University of Oxford in 1869 and is the oldest university chess club in the United Kingdom. The Club meets each Wednesday evening during University term time. They field two teams in the Oxfordshire Chess League.

Coming of age Young persons transition from childhood to adulthood

Coming of age is a young person's transition from being a child to being an adult. It continues through the teenage years of life. The certain age at which this transition takes place changes in society, as does the nature of the change. It can be a simple legal convention or can be part of a ritual or spiritual event, as practiced by many societies. In the past, and in some societies today, such a change is associated with the age of sexual maturity, especially menarche and spermarche. In others, it is associated with an age of religious responsibility. Particularly in western societies, modern legal conventions which stipulate points in late adolescence or early adulthood are the focus of the transition. In either case, many cultures retain ceremonies to confirm the coming of age, and coming-of-age stories are a well established sub genre in literature, film industry and even comics.

British Army

Despite his inability (through illness) to pursue an active military role, he had an honorary association with the 72nd Regiment, Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders, and from 1881 served as the first Colonel-in-Chief of the Seaforth Highlanders, when that regiment was formed through the merger of the 72nd regiment with the 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot. [7] A portrait of Prince Leopold in military uniform is held in the Royal Collection. [8] The Seaforth Highlanders paraded at Prince Leopold's funeral, a fact recorded by William McGonagall in his poem "The Death of Prince Leopold". [9]


Prince Leopold was an active Freemason, being initiated in the Apollo University Lodge, Oxford, whilst resident at Christ Church. He was proposed for membership by his brother, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, [10] who was at the time the Worshipful Master of the Lodge, [11] and was initiated in a joint ceremony with Robert Hawthorne Collins, his friend and tutor, who later became Comptroller of his Household. [12] He served as Master of the Lodge from 1876-1877, and was later the Provincial Grand Master for Oxfordshire, still holding that office at the time of his death. [13]

Duke of Albany

Prince Leopold was created Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence and Baron Arklow on 24 May 1881. [14] [15]


Prince Leopold, stifled by the desire of his mother, Queen Victoria, to keep him at home, saw marriage as his only hope of independence. Due to his haemophilia, he had difficulty finding a wife. Heiress Daisy Maynard was one of the women he considered as a possible bride. [16] He was acquainted with Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford for whom Lewis Carroll wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland , and was godfather of Alice's second son, who was named after him. It has been suggested that he considered marrying her, though others suggest that he preferred her sister Edith (for whom he later served as pall-bearer on 30 June 1876). [17]

Leopold also considered his second cousin Princess Frederica of Hanover for a bride; they instead became lifelong friends and confidantes. [16] Other aristocratic women he pursued included Victoria of Baden, Princess Stéphanie of Belgium, Princess Elisabeth of Hesse-Kassel, and Princess Karoline Mathilde of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg. [16] Leopold was very fond of Mary Baring, daughter of Lord Ashburton, but, though she was very fond of him too, at 19, she felt she was too young to marry. [16]

After rejection from these women, Victoria stepped in to bar what she saw as unsuitable possibilities. Insisting that the children of British monarchs should marry into other reigning Protestant families, Victoria suggested a meeting with Princess Helena Friederike, the daughter of Georg Viktor, reigning Prince of Waldeck-Pyrmont, one of whose daughters had already married King William III of the Netherlands. On 27 April 1882, Leopold and Helena were married, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, and his income was raised by parliament to £25,000. [4] Leopold and Helena enjoyed a happy (although brief) marriage. In 1883, Leopold became a father when his wife gave birth to a daughter, Alice. He died shortly before the birth of his son, Charles Edward.

Illness and death

Prince Leopold had haemophilia, diagnosed in childhood and in early years had various physicians in permanent attendance, including Arnold Royle [18] and John Wickham Legg. In February 1884, Leopold went to Cannes on doctor's orders: joint pain is a common symptom of haemophilia and the winter climate in the United Kingdom was always difficult for him. His wife, pregnant at the time, stayed at home but urged him to go. On 27 March, at his Cannes residence, the 'Villa Nevada', he slipped and fell, injuring his knee and hitting his head. He died in the early hours of the next morning, apparently from a cerebral haemorrhage. [19] He was buried in the Albert Memorial Chapel at Windsor. The court observed official mourning from 30 March 1884 to 11 May 1884. [20] His posthumous son, Prince Charles Edward, succeeded him as 2nd Duke of Albany upon birth four months later.

Having died six years after his older sister Alice, Leopold was the second of Queen Victoria's children to die. At 30 years, he was also the shortest-lived of the cohort. His mother outlived him by seventeen years, by which time she had also outlived a third child, Alfred. [21]

Leopold's passing was lamented by the Scottish "poet and tragedian" William McGonagall in the poem "The Death of Prince Leopold". [9]

In 1900, Leopold's son, Charles Edward, succeeded his uncle Alfred as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Through Charles Edward, Leopold was the great-grandfather of Carl XVI Gustaf, the current King of Sweden.

The haemophilia gene is carried on the X chromosome, and is normally passed through female descent, as in the past few haemophiliac men survived to beget children. Any daughter of a haemophiliac is a carrier of the gene. Leopold's daughter Alice inherited the haemophilia gene, and passed it to her elder son Rupert. [22]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Prince Leopold's coat of arms Coat of Arms of Leopold, Duke of Albany.svg
Prince Leopold's coat of arms



British decorations [23]
Foreign decorations [23]


In 1856, at the age of three, Prince Leopold was granted a personal coat of arms — the arms of the kingdom, with an inescutcheon of the shield of Saxony (representing his father), and all differenced by a label argent of three points, the first and third bearing hearts gules, and the second a cross gules. [29]


Princess Alice of Albany.jpeg Princess Alice of Albany 25 February 18833 January 1981She married Prince Alexander of Teck on 10 February 1904. They had three children.
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R05618, Karl-Eduard von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha.jpg Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany 19 July 18846 March 1954Born four months after his father's death; known as 'Charlie'; Leopold Charles Edward George Albert; later reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He married Princess Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein on 11 October 1905. They had five children.


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  2. Nelson, Michael (2001). Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera. London: I B Tauris. pp. 37–38. ISBN   9781860646461.
  3. Greenwood, Grace (1883). Queen Victoria, her girlhood and womanhood. Montreal: Dawson Bros. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  4. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Albany, Dukes of"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 488–489.
  5. Winter, Edward (4 December 2005), "4044. Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany", Chess Notes, retrieved 13 August 2012
  6. "Topics of the Week". The Week: a Canadian journal of politics, literature, science and arts. 1 (18): 273. 3 April 1884. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  7. Brown, Adam (20 January 2011). "The Colonels-in-Chief of the Seaforth Highlanders". The Scottish Military Research Group.
  8. "Portrait of Prince Leopold Duke of Albany, 72nd Seaforth Highlanders". Royal Collection Trust. Inventory no. 760302.
  9. 1 2 McGonagall, William (1884). "The Death of Prince Leopold". McGonagall Online.
  10. "Apollo University Lodge No 357, History 1819 - 1969", privately published 1969, page 19.
  11. "Apollo University Lodge No 357, History 1819 - 1969", privately published 1969, appendix page i.
  12. "Apollo University Lodge No 357, History 1819 - 1969", privately published 1969, page 20.
  13. The Oxfordshire Masonic Year Book, 2011-2012 (154th ed.). privately published. 2011. p. 54.
  14. "No. 24977". The London Gazette . 24 May 1881. p. 2677.
  15. "Yvonne's Royalty: Peerage". Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Zeepvat, Charlotte (1998). Prince Leopold: The Untold Story of Queen Victoria's Youngest Son. Sutton Publishing. ISBN   0-7509-3791-2.
  17. "Home News". Nelson Evening Mail. 11 (233). 22 September 1876. p. 4. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  18. "Letters to Arnold Royle, Surgeon in Ordinary to HRH Prince Leopold". Sothebys. 2013.
  19. Hibbert, Christopher; Thomas, Hugh (2007). Edward VII: The Last Victorian King (Second, Revised ed.). St. Martin's Press. ISBN   9780230610750 . Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  20. "No. 24411". The London Gazette . 29 March 1884. p. 435.
  21. "boys clothing: British royalty Victoria-the children". Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  22. Russel, Peter; Hertz, Paul; McMillan, Beverly. Biology: The Dynamic Science. Belmon, CA: Brooks/Cole. p. 265.
  23. 1 2 "Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany (1853–1884)". Archived from the original on 3 January 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  24. "No. 23502". The London Gazette . 1 June 1869. p. 3116.
  25. "No. 24142". The London Gazette . 20 October 1874. p. 4765.
  26. "No. 24411". The London Gazette . 30 January 1877. p. 435.
  27. Reference here.
  28. "No. 24848". The London Gazette . 28 May 1880. p. 3220.
  29. Francois R. Velde. "Heraldica – British Royalty Cadency". Retrieved 12 August 2011.
Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 7 April 1853 Died: 28 March 1884
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Duke of Albany
(creation of 1881)
Title next held by
Prince Charles Edward