Friday, February 11, 2011

Young Affie's death - a terrible shock

February 11, 1899

The death of Hereditary Prince Alfred of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in an insane asylum,  appears to have been a "terrible blow" to his parents.  His father, Duke Alfred, is "in such a frail condition of health that he is unlikely to survive his son long."
The shock of young Affie's death, according to the Marquise de Fontenoy, has caused his father to lose his hair.    The young prince "died under such a cloud of mental aberration," and the origins of his illness began in Berlin.
Perhaps it is "just as well that the Prone should have thus passed away," as it will "have the effect of putting an end to the unkindly rumors" about him. 
Owing to the "successive severity and relentlessness" with which Kaiser Wilhelm II has proceeded "against all those implicated in the scandal,"  Duke Alfred was compelled to place his son in a mental institution, instead of "quietly sending the boy" to one of his country homes. 
The relations between Coburg and Berlin will become further strained by the young heir's death.   The Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha is "so embittered against her nephew, the Kaiser, and she resents the treatment of her son.
Wilhelm II did not attended the recent Silver Wedding celebrations of the Duke and Duchess, and "even refrained from sending the most elementary courtesy" of conveying his good wishes.

Duke Alfred "has lived down all the prejudices against him" on the "score of his nationality."  He is also a British prince, and a royal duke.  In Coburg, he and his wife are "exceedingly popular."  Both Coburg and Gotha are "becoming up-to-date capitals," with electric lighting and electric car lines.  Real estate is "going up by leaps and bounds."
The next in line to the throne is the Duke of Connaught, who is married to a Prussian princess.  He is said to be on good terms with his nephew, the Kaiser.    It is now expected that the Duke will have to give up his post of Commander-in-chief of the British Army.
The Duke and Duchess of Connaught have one son, Prince Arthur, who is at Eton.   Next in line in the Coburg succession is the Duke's nephew, the Duke of Albany, son of the late Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany.   He is also at Eton, but is currently in poor health.
The succession then moves to the Roman Catholic branch, headed by Prince Philipp, whose wife, Princess Louise of Belgium, is in a mental institution.  Philipp is even "a worse profligate and drunkard" than the late Hereditary Duke.   Philipp also has one son, who will soon enter the Austrian army.
Then comes Philipp's brother, Prince Ludwig August, who is married to Princess Leopoldina of Brazil, younger daughter of former King Pedro II.   Their eldest son, Prince Peter, is a "homicidal maniac," who was at once time the heir presumptive to the Brazilian throne.  He once barricaded himself in the Coburg Palace in Vienna, "armed with revolvers and rifles," and "maintained a full-fledged siege" until he was finally out-maneuvered by the Viennese fire department.

[Note - the facts regarding young Affie's death were not immediately known  - and there was a lot of speculation.  For more information, please click here

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