Thursday, September 11, 2014

What will happen to Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein

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 September 11, 1914

What will be the fate of Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein, if he is taken prisoner by the Germans, wonders the Marquise de Fontenoy.  He could be shot, she states.  Few officers in the English army now fighting in France have made "such heavy sacrifices or are risking more" than Prince Albert, only surviving son of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein and his wife, Princess Helena, sister of the late King Edward VII.

Prince Christian married Princess Helena, Queen Victoria's third daughter, and fifth child in 1866.  He became a naturalized British subject, and now, in his 80s,  he is the "senior general officer of the English army."

Prince Christian and Princess Helena divided their time between their two homes: Cumberland Lodge at Windsor, and Schomburg House in London.

Their eldest son, Prince Christian Victor, died of enteric fever during the Boer War fourteen years ago, serving as an officer of the King's Royal Rifle corps.  After his older brother's death,  Prince Albert joined the Prussian army as he became second in line, after his father,  to the "extensive estates and property," of Duke Ernst Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein, brother to Empress Auguste Viktoria.  

Albert also is the heir to a "perpetual annuity" of $80,000 a year granted by Prussia's government to the reigning Duke of Schleswig-Holstein forever as a "quid pro quo for their renunciation of the sovereignty of the two duchies of Schleswig and Holstein," now provinces in the kingdom of Prussia.

Prince Albert was educated at Wellington College and then received a commission in the Prussian Cuirassier guards, eventually achieving the rank of colonel.   He was a favorite of Wilhelm II and Auguste Viktoria and is a cousin to both.  Princess Helena is the younger sister of Wilhelm's mother, Victoria, and Prince Christian is Auguste Viktoria's maternal uncle.

When the world war broke out in August,  Prince Albert resigned his German commission. He realized that he was a native of England, educated in England, his mother is a British princess, and his father a naturalized citizen.  After he tendered his resignation, he "sought out and obtained a commission under the British flag."

His decision has meant that he will sacrifice his right of succession and the $80,000 annuity, as well as his cousin's large estates in Germany.    The Duke and Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein do not have any children.

Wilhelm II is said to be "extremely embittered" by Albert's decision, which he considers as "treachery."   Prince Albert had served for nearly 20 years as an officer in the Prussian army.

If Albert is captured, he will likely be treated harshly as Wilhelm II now harbors a deep resentment of his cousin.   Prince Albert has been able "to exercise over both the Kaiser and Kaiserin, enjoying a freedom of speech with them" that few others possessed.   Only the Kaiser's only daughter, Princess Viktoria Luise, Duchess of Brunswick, and his younger brother, Prince Henry, were accorded the same power.

Prince Albert has two younger sisters.  Princess Helena Victoria is unmarried and Princess Marie Luise is divorced from Prince Aribert of Anhalt.  The divorce followed a "scandal" that has kept him away from Berlin ever since.

[Note:  Prince Albert was certainly concerned about his position in Germany, and he received permission from the Kaiser to not fight the British and remained in Berlin for the duration of the war, serving in an office job. On August 9, 1914, The Times reported that Prince Albert had been named as an aide-de-camp to General von Lowenfeld,  the commander of the Corps of Guards in Berlin. ]

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