Military Wiki
Preceded by Ernest II
Succeeded by Charles Edward
Personal details
Born (1844-08-06)6 August 1844
Windsor Castle, Berkshire
Died 30 July 1900(1900-07-30) (aged 55)
Rosenau Castle, Coburg
Spouse(s) Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia
Occupation Military

Alfred (Alfred Ernest Albert; 6 August 1844 – 30 July 1900) KG KT KP GCB GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO PC, reigned as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from 1893 to 1900. He was the second son and fourth child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and was known as Duke of Edinburgh from 1866 until he succeeded his paternal uncle Ernest II as the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in the German Empire.

Early life

Alfred was born at Windsor Castle to the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria, and her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the second son of Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. As a son of the British monarch, he was styled His Royal Highness The Prince Alfred at birth, and was second in the line of succession behind his elder brother, The Prince of Wales. He was known to his family as "Affie", after a childhood mispronunciation of the name "Alfred".[citation needed]

Alfred was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Howley, at the Private Chapel in Windsor Castle on 6 September 1844. His godparents were his mother's first cousin, Prince George of Cambridge (represented by his father, The Duke of Cambridge); his paternal aunt, the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (represented by his maternal grandmother, the Duchess of Kent); and Queen Victoria's half-brother, Carl, Prince of Leiningen (represented by The Duke of Wellington, Conservative Leader in the Lords).[1]

Alfred studied violin at Holyrood, Edinburgh, where his accompanist was Hungarian expatriate George Lichtenstein.[2]

Entering the Royal Navy

In 1856 it was decided that Prince Alfred, in accordance with his own wishes, should enter the Royal Navy. A separate establishment was accordingly assigned to him, with Lieutenant Sowell, R. E., as governor. He passed the examination in August 1858, and was appointed as midshipman in HMS Euryalus at the age of 14.[3] In July 1860, while in this ship, he paid an official visit to the Cape Colony, and made a very favourable impression both on the colonials and on the native chiefs. He took part in a hunt at Hartebeeste-Hoek, resulting in the slaughter of large numbers of game animals.[4] On the abdication of King Otto of Greece, in 1862, Prince Alfred was chosen to succeed him, but the British government blocked plans for him to ascend the Greek throne, largely because of the Queen's opposition to the idea. She and her late husband had plans for him to succeed to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg.

Prince Alfred, therefore, remained in the navy, and was promoted lieutenant on 24 February 1863, serving under Count Gleichen on HMS Racoon, and captain on 23 February 1866, being then appointed to the command of the frigate HMS Galatea.

Second-in-line to the British throne

Alfred remained second-in-line to the British throne from his birth until 8 January 1864. His older brother Edward and his wife Alexandra of Denmark had their first son Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale on this date. Any legitimate children of his older brother took priority in the succession list. Alfred became third-in-line to the throne. As Edward and Alexandra continued to have children, Alfred was further demoted in the order of succession.

Duke of Edinburgh

In the Queen's Birthday Honours on 24 May 1866,[5] the Prince was created Duke of Edinburgh and Earl of Ulster and Earl of Kent, with an annuity of £15,000 granted by Parliament. He took his seat in the House of Lords on 8 June.

Military career

While still in command of the Galatea, the Duke of Edinburgh started from Plymouth on 24 January 1867 for his voyage round the world. On 7 June 1867, he left Gibraltar, reached the Cape of Good Hope on 24 July and paid a royal visit to Cape Town on 24 August 1867 after landing at Simon's Town a while earlier. He landed at Glenelg, South Australia, on 31 October.

Being the first member of royal family to visit Australia, the Duke was received with great enthusiasm. During his stay of nearly five months he visited Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Tasmania. Adelaide school Prince Alfred College was named in his honour to mark such an occasion.

Assassination attempt

On 12 March 1868, on his second visit to Sydney, he was invited by Sir William Manning, President of the Sydney Sailors' Home, to picnic at the beachfront suburb of Clontarf to raise funds for the home. At the function he was wounded in the back by a revolver fired by Henry James O'Farrell. The Prince was shot just to the right of his spine, and was tended for the next two weeks by six nurses, trained by Florence Nightingale and led by Matron Lucy Osburn, who had just arrived in Australia in February 1868.

The Melbourne Argus reported:


To-day was observed as a general holiday, in consequence of the Sailors' Home Pic-nic, which was very largely attended. Six steamers and both the yacht squadrons started for the scene, which was at a spot down Sydney Harbour.

The Prince arrived at two o'clock, and, after luncheon, was walking with the Countess of Belmore and Sir William Manning, when an unknown elderly man came behind him, and drawing a revolver, shot the Prince. He was firing a second shot, when the bystanders struck the pistol from his hand, and seized the assassin. The bullet was thus diverted, and went through Mr. Thornton's foot.

A fearful excitement ensued. A large number of ladies fainted, and the crowd rushed on the assassin, amid loud cries of "Lynch him, Lynch him." The police, interfered, and dragged the assassin on board a steamer. Later intelligence states that the 'man has declared himself to be an Irish man.

8 P.M. The would-be assassin has been re-cognised as H. J. O'Farrell, a lawyer's clerk, brother to a solicitor who practised some years ago in Melbourne, and levanted under disgraceful circumstances. He was living at Ballarat, and came here about three months ago.

He fired at the Prince's back, when two paces off. The bullet entered two inches from the spine, passed through the muscles of the back, and round by the ribs to the front of the abdomen.

The Prince immediately fell, exclaiming, " My back is broken." Sir Win. Manning, seeing the Prince fall, and hearing the second report, threw himself down, while the crowd rushed to raise the Prince and seize the assassin, who was only saved from being torn piecemeal by the exertions of the police and the Chief Justice, who got severely handled in aiding the police. Numerous attempts were made to tear the prisoner away, and his clothes were torn to shreds.

"When he was placed on board the steamer Paterson, to be taken to Sydney, the crew tried to seize him to lynch him. When he was searched, a second revolver, fully loaded, was found on him. He refused to give his name, but the police discovered his lodgings, and seized a quantity of papers in his box, principally legal documents. The sensation in the city is indescribable. Parliament was sitting when the news was received, and immediately adjourned. Bodies of mounted troopers and foot police, fully armed, were despatched to the wharf, the gaol, and the Government House.

The Prince was carried on board the steamer Morpeth about four o'clock, suffering intense pain. Two lines of citizens formed an avenue from the marquee to the steamer, and profound grief was manifested by them. Many ladies fainted as the Prince was borne by. He arrived in Sydney about five o'clock, and was conveyed to Government House. The wound is not thought to be mortal, though it causes great pain.

Thousands of people were at the wharf, expecting the Prince to land there. The most intense excitement prevails through the city.

MIDNIGHT. The bullet has not been extracted. The bishop called at Government House, but was not allowed to see the Prince, whom Miss Osborne and one of the sister nurses are attending. The symptoms are not more unfavourable.

LATEST BULLETIN. FRIDAY, FOUR O'CLOCK A.M. The medical attendants report that the Prince has passed a tranquil night. No unfavourable symptoms have manifested themselves. Every hope is entertained of the case progressing favourably.

On the evening of 23 March 1868, the most influential people of Sydney voted for a memorial building to be erected, "to raise a permanent and substantial monument in testimony of the heartfelt gratitude of the community at the recovery of HRH". This led to a public subscription which paid for the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's construction.

Prince Alfred soon recovered from his injury and was able to resume command of his ship and return home in early April 1868.

Henry James O'Farrell was arrested at the scene, quickly tried, convicted and hanged on 21 April 1868. The present Premier of New South Wales, Barry O'Farrell, is no relation.

Prince Alfred reached Spithead on 26 June 1868, after an absence of seventeen months. He visited Hawaii in 1869 and spent time with the royal family there, where he was presented with leis upon his arrival. He was also the first member of the Royal Family to visit New Zealand, arriving in 1869 on HMS Galatea.

The Duke of Edinburgh also became the first European prince to visit Japan and on 4 September 1869, he was received at an audience by the teenaged Emperor Meiji in Tokyo.

The Duke's next voyage was to India, where he arrived in December 1869 and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), which he visited the following year. In both countries and at Hong Kong, which he visited on the way, he was the first British prince to set foot in the country. The native rulers of India vied with one another in the magnificence of their entertainments during the Duke's stay of three months.


On 23 January 1874, the Duke of Edinburgh married the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, the second (and only surviving) daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and his wife Marie of Hesse and by Rhine, daughter of Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Wilhelmine of Baden, at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg. To commemorate the occasion, a small English bakery made the now-internationally-popular Marie biscuit, with the Duchess' name imprinted on its top.[6] The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh made their public entry into London on 12 March. The marriage, however, was not a happy one, and the bride was thought haughty by London Society. She was surprised to discover that she had to yield precedence to the Princess of Wales and all of Queen Victoria's daughters and insisted on taking precedence before the Princess of Wales (the future Queen Alexandra) because she and her father the Tsar considered the Princess of Wales' family (the Danish Royal Family) as inferior to their own. Queen Victoria refused this demand and granted her precedence immediately after the Princess of Wales. Her father gave her the then-staggering sum of £100,000 as a dowry, plus an annual allowance of £28,000.[citation needed]


Image Name Birth Death Notes
Erbprinz-alfred-von-sachsen-coburg-gotha.jpg Prince Alfred ("Young Affie") 15 October 1874 6 February 1899 Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from 22 August 1893
MarieRoumanie.jpg Princess Marie ("Missy") 29 October 1875 18 July 1938 married, 10 January 1893, King Ferdinand I of Romania (1865–1927); had issue
Vitoria Melita.JPG Princess Victoria Melita ("Ducky") 25 November 1876 2 March 1936 married (1), 19 April 1894, Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine; had issue; divorced 21 December 1901

(2) 8 October 1905, the Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia; had issue

File:Alexandrabritain1878.jpeg Princess Alexandra 1 September 1878 16 April 1942 married, 20 April 1896, Prince Ernst of Hohenlohe-Langenburg; had issue
Arms of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.svg Stillborn son 13 October 1879 13 October 1879
Beatriceedinburgh1884.jpg Princess Beatrice 20 April 1884 13 July 1966 married, 15 July 1909, Don Alfonso, Infante of Spain, 3rd Duke of Galliera; had issue

Flag Rank

The Duke of Edinburgh devoted himself to his profession, showing complete mastery of his duties and unusual skill in naval tactics. He was stationed in Malta for several years and his third child, Victoria Melita, was born there in 1876. He was promoted rear-admiral on 30 December 1878, vice-admiral on 10 November 1882, admiral on 18 October 1887 and received his baton as Admiral of the Fleet on 3 June 1893. He commanded the Channel Fleet from 1883 to 1884, the Mediterranean Fleet from 1886 to 1889 and was Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth from 1890 to 1893. He always paid the greatest attention to his official duties and was most efficient as an admiral.[citation needed]

Percy Scott wrote in his memoirs that "as a Commander-in-Chief, the Duke of Edinburgh had, in my humble opinion, no equal. He handled a fleet magnificently, and introduced many improvement in signals and manoeuvring." He "took a great interest in gunnery."[7] "The prettiest ship I have ever seen was the [The Duke of Edinburgh's flagship] Alexandra. I was informed that £2,000 had been spent by the officers on her decoration."[8]

Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Royal styles of
Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Arms of Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.svg
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir

On the death of his uncle, Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha on 22 August 1893, the duchy fell to the Duke of Edinburgh, since The Prince of Wales had renounced his right to the succession. Alfred thereupon surrendered his British allowance of £15,000 a year and his seats in the House of Lords and the Privy Council, but he retained the £10,000 granted on his marriage to maintain Clarence House as his London residence.[9] At first regarded with some coldness as a "foreigner", he gradually gained popularity. By the time of his death in 1900, he had generally won the good opinion of his subjects.

The Duke was exceedingly fond of music and took a prominent part in establishing the Royal College of Music. He was a keen violinist, but had little skill. At a dinner party given by his brother, he was persuaded to play. Sir Henry Ponsonby wrote: 'Fiddle out of tune and noise abominable.'[10]

He was also a keen collector of glass and ceramic ware, and his collection, valued at half a million marks, was presented by his widow to the Veste Coburg, the enormous fortress on a hill top above Coburg.

Later life

The Duke's only son, the Hereditary Prince Alfred, became involved in a scandal involving his mistress and shot himself in January 1899, in the midst of his parents' twenty-fifth wedding anniversary celebrations at the Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha. He survived, but his embarrassed parents sent him off to Meran to recover, where he died two weeks later, on 6 February.[citation needed]

The Duke of Saxe-Coburg died of throat cancer on 30 July 1900 in a lodge adjacent to Schloss Rosenau, the ducal summer residence just north of Coburg. He was buried at the ducal family's mausoleum in the public Glockenburg Cemetery of Coburg.[citation needed] He was succeeded as the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha by his nephew, Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany, the posthumous son of his youngest brother, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany because Alfred's next brother, The Duke of Connaught, and his son, Prince Arthur of Connaught, had renounced their succession rights to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.[citation needed]

He was survived by his mother, Queen Victoria, who had already outlived two of her children, Alice and Leopold. She died six months later.


Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 6 August 1844 – 24 May 1866: His Royal Highness The Prince Alfred
  • 24 May 1866 – 23 August 1893: His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh
  • 23 August 1893 – 30 July 1900: His Royal Highness The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Alfred's full style in the United Kingdom at his death was His Royal Highness The Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Ulster, Earl of Kent, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George, Knight Grand Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Knight of the Order of the Black Eagle, Knight of the Star of Schwarzenberg, Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Knight of the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation, Knight of the Legion of Honour, Knight of the Order of St. Stephen, Knight of the Order of St. Andrew, Osmanieh of the Ottoman Empire.

In Germany his style and titles included Herzog von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, Herzog zu Sachsen, Prinz von Großbritannien und Irland, Herzog von Edinburg, Herzog zu Jülich, Kleve, und Berg, zu Engern und Westfalen, Graf von Ulster und von Kent, Landgraf in Thüringen, Markgraf zu Meissen, gefürsteter Graf zu Henneberg, Graf zu der Mark und Ravensberg, Herr von Ravenstein und Tonna,[11] which translates to Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; Duke in Saxony; Prince of Great Britain and Ireland; Duke of Edinburgh; Duke of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, of Angria and Westphalia; Earl (Count) of Ulster and Kent; Landgrave in Thuringia; Margrave of Meissen; Princely Count of Henneberg; Count of the Mark and Ravensberg; Lord of Ravenstein and Tonna.


British Honours

Foreign Honours[13]


Prince Alfred gained use of the royal arms of the United Kingdom, with an inescutcheon of the shield of Saxony, the whole differenced by a label argent of three points, the outer points bearing anchors azure, and the inner a cross gules.[14] When he became Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, his Saxon arms were his British arms inverted, the ducal arms of Saxony, with an inescutcheon of the royal arms of the United Kingdom differenced with a label argent of three points, the outer points bearing anchors azure, and the inner a cross gules.

<templatestyles src="Template:Gallery/styles.css"></templatestyles>


Manta alfredi is commonly known as Prince Alfred's manta ray.[15]

Tristan da Cunha

Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, the main settlement of Tristan da Cunha, was named after Alfred after he visited the remote islands in 1867 while Duke of Edinburgh.


The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, opened during his visit to Australia in 1868, and still one of the biggest hospitals in the city, is named for him. The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, again one of the busiest in the country, is also named after him.

The Foundation Stone for Prince Alfred College, an all-boys K-12-day and boarding school in Adelaide, was laid by the Prince himself, during his visit in 1867. This prestigious college has the biggest Old Scholars Association in the Southern Hemisphere, and has educated several outstanding citizens.

New Zealand

The name of the small township of Alfredton (near Eketahuna in the lower North Island of New Zealand) honours the Prince.[16]

South Africa

Prince Alfred Pass in the Western Cape, South Africa

A Prince Alfred Street can be found in Pietermaritzburg, Queenstown, Grahamstown, Durban and Caledon. There is some opposition to Prince Alfred Street in Durban being renamed Florence Nzama Street. In Port Elizabeth there is a Prince Alfred's Terrace.

Port Elizabeth's 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium was constructed in Prince Alfred Park.

Prince Alfred sailed into Port Elizabeth on 6 August 1860 and celebrated his 16th birthday among its citizens.[17]

There was a Prince Alfred Hospital in Grahamstown for many years.

The Alfred Rowing Club was established in 1864 and was housed under the pier at Table Bay. It was named after Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, who visited the Cape in the 1860. It is the oldest organised sporting club in South Africa.[5]

The Prince Alfred Primary School is situated in Pietermaritzburg.

The Port Elizabeth Rifle Corps was formed in 1856 under Sir George Grey’s scheme to have a volunteer force to help secure the borders of the Cape Colony. Four years later the it provided a Royal Guard to Prince Alfred and reportedly bore itself so well that, at the suggestion of the Governor, the Prince gave permission for it to be renamed Prince Alfred's Guard. It bears the name to the present day.

The opening ceremony of the South African Library [6] was performed by Prince Alfred in 1860. An impressive portrait of the Prince hangs in the main reading room.[18]

The Port Elizabeth chapter of the Memorable Order of the Tin Hat, a veterans association, is known as the Prince Alfred Shellhole.[19]

Prince Alfred's Hamlet is a small town in the Western Cape province.

Port Alfred, on the Kowie River in the Eastern Cape, was originally known as Port Frances after the daughter-in-law of the governor of the Cape Colony, Lord Charles Somerset.[20]

Of all the passes built in South Africa by the famous Andrew Geddes Bain and his son, Thomas, Prince Alfred's Pass remains, for many people, a favourite because of its lavish variety winding through some of the world's most unspoiled scenery.[21]


One of the stamp collectors in the British Royal Family, Prince Alfred won election as honorary president of The Philatelic Society, London in 1890. He may have inspired his nephew George V, who benefited after the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) bought his brother Prince Alfred's collection. The merging of Alfred's and George's collections gave birth to the Royal Philatelic Collection.[22]

Russian navy

The Russian armoured cruiser Gerzog Edinburgski took its name from the Duke of Edinburgh.


  1. "No. 20382". 10 September 1844. 
  2. (digitized online by GoogleBooks) Musical Times. 34. 1893. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  3. Courtney, Nicholas; Forward by Prince Andrew, Duke of York (2004). The Queen's Stamps: The Authorized History of the Royal Philatelic Collection. London: Methuen. p. 27. ISBN 0-413-77228-4. "...he set his heart from an early age on the Royal Navy with 'a passion which we, as his parents, believe not to have a right to subdue'" 
  4. "Progress of His Royal Highness, Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, through the Cape Colony, Brittish Kaffraria, the Orange Free State, and Port Natal in the year 1860"
  5. Yvonne's Royalty: Peerage
  6. La Tienda. "2-Pack Maria Cookies by Cuetera". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 9 November 2007. 
  7. p61 Fifty Years in the Royal Navy
  8. p61 Fifty Years in the Royal Navy
    In those days "the Admiralty did not supply sufficient paint or cleaning material for keeping the ship up to the required standard, the officers had to find the money for buying the necessary housemaiding material."
  9. "Right Honourable no more". BBC News. 
  10. Kenneth Rose: King George V. Macmillan 1983
  11. Sandner, Harold (2001) [2004]. "4.0 Herzog Alfred" (in German). Das Haus von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha 1826 bis 2001. Andreas, Prinz von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (preface). 96450 Coburg: Neue Presse GmbH. p. 119. ISBN 3-00-008525-4. 
  12. "No. 27083". 26 May 1899. 
  13. Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh & Saxe-Coburg Gotha (1844–1900)
  14. Heraldica – British Royal Cadency
  15. [1]
  16. Reed, Alexander Wyclif (1975). Place Names of New Zealand. A. H. & A. W. Reed. p. 9. ISBN 9780589009335. Retrieved 31 July 2013. "After Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria. The Duke visited New Zealand in 1869 as a post captain in HMS Galatea, and twice in 1870." 
  17. [2][dead link]
  18. The Commodore: Business Accommodation, Cape Town, South Africa(Legacy Hotels & Resorts International)
  19. [3][dead link]
  20. history
  21. [4][dead link]
  22. Courtney, Nicholas (2004). The Queen's Stamps. ISBN 0-413-77228-4, pages 28–29.


  • McKinlay, Brian The First Royal Tour, 1867–1868, (London: Robert Hale & Company, c1970, 1971) 200p. ISBN 0-7091-1910-0
  • Sandner, H., Das Haus Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, (Coburg: Neue Presse, 2001).
  • Van der Kiste, John, & Jordaan, Bee Dearest Affie, (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1984)

External links

Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 6 August 1844 Died: 30 July 1900
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ernest II
Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Succeeded by
Charles Edward
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Henry Bentinck
Honorary Colonel of the 1st London Artillery Volunteer Corps
Office abolished
Preceded by
Sir William Dowell
Commander-in-Chief, Channel Fleet
Succeeded by
Sir Algernon de Horsey
Preceded by
Lord John Hay
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet
Succeeded by
Sir Anthony Hoskins
Preceded by
Sir William Dowell
Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth
Succeeded by
Sir Algernon Lyons

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).