Wednesday, August 4, 2010
The Duke of Coburg's Funeral
August 4, 1900
The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha's imposing funeral was held today at St. Moritz church in Coburg. The late duke's nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm II arrived at 11:30 in the morning and, according to the New York Times report, "was given an ovation by dense crowds awaiting him at all points along the route." Wilhelm's arrival at the train station was "quite private," where he was received by the young Duke Carl Eduard, the Hereditary Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, the Grand Duke of Hesse and By Rhine, and the Duke of York. There were "affectionate greetings" between the Kaiser and the new Duke of Saxe-Coburg and the other princes.
After Wilhelm's arrival, the funeral cortege was formed. The German walked in the "first rank" between the new Duke, Carl Eduard, and the Prince Regent, the Hereditary Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who is married to the late Duke's third daughter, Alexandra. They were followed by the Prince of Wales, who walked between the Grand Duke of Hesse and By Rhine and King Ferdinand of Roumania The Duke of Connaught and the Duke of York followed, and behind them were an "endless procession of Princes and Dukes, representatives of German and foreign sovereigns and Courts, naval and military deputations, and officers of the Ducal Court."
The other princes and dukes included Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Princes Philipp and Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke Ernst Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein, the Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Meiningen, the Crown Prince of the Hellenes, the Prince of Wied, the Hereditary Prince Reuss, Grand Duke Alexis of Russia, the Hereditary Prince of Leiningen, the Prince of Hohenzollern, Prince Johann Georg of Saxony, Prince Hohenlohe, Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein, the Hereditary Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and Duke Ulrich of Württemberg.
The chancel inside St. Moritz's, was "converted into a veritable grove of palm trees." The church "was draped in black, with hangings of embroidered ermine." There were green pine sprays and silver frieze, which relieved some of the gloom. A black velarium "was suspended with the arms and initials of the dead Duke embroidered upon it in silver."
Queen Victoria's wreath, made from scarlet geraniums, white stocks, and heliotrope "in the scheme of the national colors," was placed at the head of the coffin. The inscription was pathetic and simple: "From his sorrowing mother." A large wreath of oak leaves was placed at the foot of the coffin with the inscription: "From his three sisters," Helena, Louise and Beatrice. Empress Friedrich sent a wreath of pine and fir sprays. The Prince and Princess of Wales' wreath was made from lilies with white ribbons.
Duke Alfred's orders and decorations were displayed among the wreaths.
During the service the Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Meiningen was taken ill. He was "carried to the chaplain's house," near to the church, where he "soon recovered." At the end of the simple funeral service, troops fired a salute from the castle square. The cortege returned to the castle.
The Times (of London) reported that Duke Carl Eduard held a reception in the Throne room at the castle after the funeral. Lunch followed in the Riesensall. Wilhelm II sat between the Duke and the Prince Regent, with the Prince of Wales, Grand Duke Alexis and the Duke of Connaught on the Duke's other hand. The Crown Prince of Hellenes sat next to the Prince Regent, with "the Duke of York on his right."
Kaiser Wilhelm visited the late Duke's widow, Grand Duchess Marie, in the afternoon before leaving for Wilhelmshohe.
At 10 p.m., the remains of the late Duke were "carried by torchlight, with an escort of Princes," to the family mausoleum in the churchyard.
At the the same time as the funeral in Coburg, Queen Victoria, Princesses Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, Princess Henry of Battenberg, Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Princes Alexander, Leopold and Maurice of Battenberg, and members of the Household attended a special service at Osborne in memory of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Edinburgh. At the Queen's Command, another Memorial Service for the late Duke was held at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, and was attended by the Princess of Wales, Princess Victoria of Wales, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, the Duchess of York, the Crown Prince of Siam, Princess Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Countess Helena Gleichen and Prince Louis of Battenberg.
Prince and Princess Christian sent a representative to this service as did Princess Henry of Battenberg, the Duchess of Albany, the Duke of Cambridge, who sent his son Rear Admiral Adolphus Fitzgeorge, and Prince and Princess Carl of Denmark.