Thursday, March 16, 2023

Hemophilia and Queen Victoria

"Our poor family seems to be persecuted by this awful disease, the worst I know."

These are the words of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who was referring to the hereditary disease hemophilia that affected – during her lifetime – her youngest son, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, three grandsons:  Prince Waldemar of Prussia, Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Hesse and by Rhine and Prince Leopold of Battenberg, and one great-grandson, Prince Heinrich of Prussia.  The Queen died in January 1901 before the disease was inherited by several descendants, including the heirs to the thrones of Russia and Spain.

I was twelve when I first read Elizabeth Longford's biography of Queen Victoria.  I loved the book. The family tree pullout in the back of the book was the inspiration for my work as a royal genealogist which led to me writing three books on the descendants of Queen Victoria.  

Longford also introduced me to hemophilia, a hereditary rare disorder where blood does not clot properly, due to the lack of blood-clotting proteins.  A simple injury can be fatal. 

I learned more about the disease in my 10th-grade biology class as the textbook included a chart showing Victoria and her hemophiliac descendants.  It was the only day that I enjoyed biology.

It has been assumed that the disease was the result of a spontaneous mutation at the time of Victoria's conception.  Her father was not a hemophiliac.   The disease had not manifested itself in the families of her older half-siblings, Carl, Prince of Leiningen, and Princess Feodore, the wife of Ernst, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, the two children from the Duchess of Kent's first marriage.

 The spontaneous mutation is the most plausible theory. Victoria was the only child of her father, the Duke of Kent’s marriage to Princess Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld.   As we do not have a lot of information on the medical history of Victoria’s female ancestors and their sons, no one can be completely sure that this gene was a spontaneous mutation.  What if the Duke of Kent did not die in January 1820?  What if Victoria was one of several children?  This is pure speculation, but a brother who was a hemophiliac or a sister who was a carrier would prove that the gene came from the Duchess of Kent’s maternal line.

It is possible, however. to examine and study another theory that focuses on Victoria inheriting the gene from her mother.   I will have more on that theory later in this article.


It was early on the morning of April 7, 1853, when Queen Victoria went into labor with her eighth child.  Her doctor, Sir James Clark, asked for Dr. John Snow, "one of the country's few skilled anesthesiologists, to come to Buckingham Palace, who administered chloroform "with each pain," allowing the queen to give birth to her fourth son, at 1:15 p.m., with little pain.

The infant prince was the first British royal born with the help of an anesthetic.   

Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent, was at Clarence House when a messenger arrived with the news that the queen was in the final stages of labor.  She walked to Buckingham Palace just in time to see her new grandson, who was being carried to meet government ministers in the Audience Room.

Leopold was "the smallest of the Queen's babies at birth."  The Duchess of Kent acknowledged she had a “vague uneasiness" about the baby, which bothered her all during the night.  The next day, braving a storm, the duchess returned to the palace to see her daughter and the new baby.  The Duchess noted that "the poor thing appeared to be delicate, which made me anxious."

The Duchess was the first to realize that something might be wrong with Leopold, who was baptized on June 28 with the name Leopold George Duncan Albert.  Leopold honored Victoria and Albert's mutual uncle, King Leopold I of all the Belgians.

Victoria described her new son as "a pretty child with large eyes, a very marked nose, a small mouth & nicely shaped head with more, & darker hair than Arthur had. He fills out daily."

But he was not filling out.  The infant prince was not putting on weight and his "penetrating screams echoed down the palace corridors."  The pure milk from the Highlands that Victoria wanted her baby to nourish was causing digestion issues.   A local wet nurse was found and Leopold "suckled and slept."

Leopold's first record "attack of bleeding" took place in the summer of 1855.  The Duchess of Kent was in the garden at Buckingham Palace when she ran into her grandchildren, apart from Leopold.  She was told that he had been confined to the nursery due to a fall and was still in bed six days later.

The Court Circular had noted that Leopold suffered "a slight accident."  He appeared to have fallen on his face, suffering bruises, swelling, and intense pain.  During the next few years, there would be more falls, more bruises, and stiffness in Leopold's joints.  It was difficult for the Queen to accept or even understand that her son might have a serious illness.

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 The first "scientific description" of hemophilia was published in 1820.  Most of the early pioneering work was done in Germany in the mid-1800s.   It took some time for Sir James and the other royal doctors to conclude that the young Leopold suffered from hemophilia.  It was not until the mid-1870s that the Royal College of Physicians recognized hemophilia by name.  This was more than a decade after Prince Leopold was diagnosed with the disease.

The concept that the disease was hereditary was difficult to explain or comprehend in the mid-1850s.  It was understood that a woman could pass the disease to a son, but not suffer the disease herself.   There was no cure nor treatment for bleeders.    Victoria was not told that the disease was hereditary.  The doctors may have told Albert, but not the queen.

Hemophilia certainly affected Leopold's lifestyle.  He was determined, however, to live as normal a life as possible, even if that meant conflict with his mother.  Leopold attended Christ Church at Oxford and became president of the Oxford University Club.  When he reached his majority in 1874, he was made a member of the Privy Council.  Two years later he left Oxford with an honorary degree in civil law.  During the next few years, he traveled throughout Europe and then traveled with his sister, Princess Louise, and her husband, Lord Lorne, to Canada and the United States.  

His illness prevented a military career, although he was named Colonel-Chief of the Seaforth Highlanders.

Prince Leopold found his mother to be intransigent when it came to his wish for a more independent life.   He wanted to marry and have a family.   His first love was Princess Frederica of Hannover, a second cousin, the elder daughter of the exiled King Georg V of Hannover.   Lily, as Frederica was called, was in love with another man and gently turned down Leopold's proposal.    Leopold and Lily would remain lifelong friends.  He and Queen Victoria offered their support to Lily when she left her family in Austria to live in England -- the Hannovers were British royals -- and marry Baron Alfonso von Pawel-Rammingen.

He also pursued Princess Victoria of Baden, the future consort of King Gustav V of Sweden without success.

On May 24, 1881, Queen Victoria created her son Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence, and Baron Arklow.  Although the queen was not keen on her youngest son marrying anyone, Leopold was determined to find a wife.  Marriage would bring him the freedom that he craved.  One candidate was Princess Calma of Schleswig-Holstein, a granddaughter of Victoria's older half-sister, Feodore.   She was also the niece of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, who was married to Leopold's sister, Helena.    Calma and her older sister, Auguste Victoria, whose engagement to the queen's grandson, the future Kaiser Wilhelm II had been recently announced, were invited to visit Helena and Christian.

The Queen liked Calma and thought she was the prettier of the two sisters and would have approved of the marriage.  But Princess Helena and Prince Christian were, much to Victoria's dismay, working actively against the marriage by "spreading stories" to other family members about Leopold's health.  Auguste Victoria and Prince Wilhelm were also against the marriage.  

Helena and Christian claimed that in 1879, a year before his death, Calma's father, Duke Friedrich VIII had written a letter opposing marriage between his daughter and Prince Leopold.   

[Princess Karoline Mathilde of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg married Duke Friedrich Ferdinand of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg in 1885.  Their eldest daughter, Viktoria Adelheid, married Prince Leopold's son, Carl Eduard of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.]

Charlotte Zeepvat writes that "no hint remains of Leopold's feelings" but he must have been disappointed in his sister and his nephew.   

It was Queen Victoria who recommended that Leopold meet Princess Helene of Waldeck-Pyrmont, daughter of Georg Viktor, Prince of Waldeck-Pyrmont.  The courtship proceeded cautiously but after some months, Leopold and Helen were allowed to spend a brief time together.  Leopold, who had taken lessons from a professional singer, sang an Italian love song to Helen.   He also met with her father, the Prince of Waldeck, to ask for permission to marry Helene.   After lunch, Leopold and Helen met again where "the great question was settled " to his "intense happiness.'

Helene's sister, Emma was married to King Willem III of the Netherlands.

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She became Leopold's "darling Nellie."  They were married on April 27, 1882, at St. George's Chapel.   He was in pain and suffering joint problems and had to use a walking stick, which made Victoria feel "uneasy."   She believed that her youngest son's health impaired his ability to live a normal life.   "To me the idea of poor Leopold's marrying ... not able to walk yet -- is terrible," she wrote to her eldest daughter, Vicky, Crown Princess of Prussia.

In the summer of 1882, Leopold suffered another setback when one of his kidneys bled, which led to more pain and the inability to stand.  His desire to care for his pregnant wife led him to "write an informal will" if he died before Helen gave birth to their first child.

Leopold's illness was certainly an "open secret" among the medical establishment but neither he nor the queen was expecting the respected medical journal, The Lancet, to report that "Prince Leopold is known to suffer from constitutional weakness with liability to hemorrhage -haematophilia. Of this malady had an attack."

No one was able to identify which, if any of the doctors, had violated patient confidentiality.

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 The couple's first child, Princess Alice, was born on February 25, 1883. By early 1883, Helen was expecting a second child.  The cold and damp winter only aggravated the swelling and pain in Leopold's joints.  His doctors suggested that he travel to Cannes where the climate was mild, and Leopold could rest. Helen remained behind at Claremont with their infant daughter.

On March 27, 1884, Prince Leopold prepared to attend a "Battle of the Flowers" procession.  He went to shave but slipped and fell on the tiled floor at the Cercle Nautique, the yacht club, hitting his right knee "hard against the bottom step."

In a letter to Helen, he wrote "such pain it was.  I thought at once -- as I lay on the ground -- of my sweet Nellie & the idea of your making yourself unhappy made me burst into tears!!!!"

He was treated by a doctor in one of the yacht club's guest rooms before he was brought back to Villa Nevada, his rented home in Cannes.   Prince Leopold was in intense pain.  The doctor gave him more morphine.  

Leopold wrote another letter to Helen, telling her that he didn't "mind the pain," and hoped she could find a way to travel to Cannes.

Early the next morning, Leopold was suffering from convulsions.  There was nothing that his doctors could do.  Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, died shortly after 3:00 a.m., from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Although it was not known at the time, hemophiliacs pass the gene to the daughters, who become carriers and then pass the gene to their children. Princess Alice was a carrier.

Sons of hemophiliacs do not inherit the gene.  Helen gave birth posthumously on July 19, 1884, to a son Leopold Charles Edward George Albert, the 2nd Duke of Albany.


Two of Victoria's daughters, Princess Alice (1843-1878) and Princess Beatrice (1857-1944) were carriers.   Alice, who married Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by Rhine, was the mother of seven children: Victoria, Elisabeth, Irene, Ernst Ludwig, Friedrich Wilhelm, Alix, and Marie.

Irene and Alix were carriers.  Friedrich Wilhelm, known as Frittie, was a bleeder and died from internal bleeding after falling from a window.

Princess Irene married her first cousin, Prince Henry of Prussia, whose mother, Victoria, was Queen Victoria's eldest child.   They had three sons: Waldemar, Sigismund, and Henry.  The eldest and youngest sons were hemophiliacs.

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 It was Alix's marriage to Nicholas II of all the Russias that brought hemophilia into the Imperial Family as the couple's only son, Alexis, suffered from the disease. 

Princess Beatrice married Prince Henry of Battenberg in 1885.   They were the parents of four children: Alexander (1886-1960), Victoria Eugenie (1887-1969) Leopold (1889-1922), and Maurice (1891-1914).   Ena, who married King Alfonso XIII of Spain, was a carrier.  Two of her three surviving sons, Alfonso, and Gonzalo, were hemophiliacs. Her younger brother, Leopold, also inherited the disease.  

Princess Alice and her husband, Prince Alexander of Teck, had three children: May, Rupert, and Maurice.  Rupert was a hemophiliac.


On October 7, 1870, Princess Alice, the Hereditary Grand Duchess of Hesse and by the Rhine, gave birth to her 5th child and second son.  Friedrich William Augustus Victor Leopold Louis was born prematurely.  He was named for the German Crown Prince, who was Alice's brother-in-law.   It was a challenging time for the Grand Ducal family as Frittie was born during the Franco- Prussian war.

In the final weeks of her pregnancy, Alice was trying to run a hospital and care for twelve hundred wounded French soldiers who were living in barracks at the end of Alice's garden.  She was worn out, not just from a difficult pregnancy, but also from the burdens of war, as well as raising four young children with a husband away at the front  Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia noted in his diary: "My sister-in-law, Alice has given birth to a second son, and my wife, the mother not being equal to the task, has several times already acted as a wet nurse."

In a letter to her mother (April 20, 1872), Princess Alice wrote: "Frittie has again endless bruises, with lumps, as Leo used to have; but he is taking iron, as Sir William [Jenner] wishes, and he is strong and rosy and well otherwise.  I trust he may outgrow this."  

It was impossible, however, for Frittie to outgrow this hereditary disease. The realization that her son had a serious illness came in late January 1873 when Frittie cut his ear and the bleeding would not stop.  It was at this time that Alice realized that her son was a hemophiliac.

 Alice wrote to Queen Victoria: "Since three days, with an interruption of one day, poor  Frittie has been bleeding incessantly from a slight cut on his ear, which was nearly healed.  Since yesterday evening we cannot stop it.  All the remedies were used, but as of yet unavailing.  Just now the place has been touched again with caustic and tightly bound, after we had with great trouble got rid of the quantity of dried blood from his hair, neck, etc. He is horrified at the sight of so much blood but shows great strength as yet in spite of so great a loss.  He is of course very irritable, and, as he must not scream, one has to do whatever he wishes, which will spoil him dreadfully.  I own I was much upset when I saw that he had this tendency to bleed, and the anxiety for the future, even if he gets well over this, will remain for years to come..."

On February 6, Alice wrote another letter to her mother about her younger son's suffering. "...he doesn't know what to do with himself, and we have the greatest difficulty in keeping him from rubbing or scratching himself.  The want of sleep through pain, etc., he's excited himself very much, so he has been very difficult to manage.  The bandages of course cannot be removed, and great care will be taken when they are removed, lest bleeding should re-commence.  He has been out twice a day, as usual, all along, and his skin never quite lost its pinkness and mottled appearance; all of which are signs that he has good blood and to spare, else he would look worse and have shown weakness, which after all he did not.  He speaks well for his age, and is, alas! very wild, so that it will be impossible to keep him from having accidents."

Frittie was an "exuberant, playful boy," who now had to be carefully monitored.  

In March, Alice was able to "carry out her long-cherished wish to visit Italy.  She and her husband visited Rome and its museums and had a private meeting with Pope Pius IX. They also paid her respects to King Vittorio Emanuele and Crown Princess Margherita, who accompanied her on a tour of Rome.   The couple left Italy on April 28 and arrived in Darmstadt on May 2

The trip had been one of "thorough enjoyment," but the joy of a reunion with her family was brief.  Prince Ludwig left Darmstadt early on the morning of May 29 as he had to inspect the troops in Upper Hesse.   Alice, "exhausted from the great fatigue of her Italian journey,” was still in bed when her two sons, Ernst Ludwig and Frittie, came in to greet her. The two boys played a game, a race to the window to see who would be first.  Ernie was four and a half years old and Frittie was two years younger.  

The window was half-open.  Frittie ran "as hard as he could tear."  He tried to stop himself by putting his hands on the window frame, but the window gave away and Frittie fell through the window landing on a stone balustrade.  The distance of the fall was about 20 feet.   The family's doctors quickly arrived and determined that no bones were broken, but there was a concern for a large bruise on Frittie's forehead.  There was nothing the doctors could do.  Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Hesse and By Rhine died a few hours later without ever regaining consciousness.

Telegrams were sent to Prince Ludwig while Alice remained at her son's side.  He arrived after  Frittie had died.

 Her family showed great sympathy as Alice grieved her "unusually gifted and beloved son."

Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Hesse and by Rhine was the first of the hemophiliac descendants to die.   His funeral was held on June 3 and he was interred in the family mausoleum at Rosenhöhe.

Some years later, Alice's elder son, Ernst Ludwig spoke about his younger brother's death.  "My mother was still in bed in the morning and my brother, and I were playing near her. I ran into the sitting room in order to look across at my brother.  My mother jumped out of bed to pull me back from the window.  During this time my little brother got up on a chair to enable him to look out and before my mother could return the chair tipped forward and he fell down the steps."

It was difficult for the family to understand how serious hemophilia could be in the late 1800s.  

  Queen Victoria wrote to her eldest daughter, Vicky: "And now comes this dreadful calamity at Darmstadt which will so deeply move you.  How awful! How dreadful! Only God was very merciful in taking the little darling so painlessly and peacefully.  But oh! the dreadful shock and recollection of it."    

The Queen did not refer to hemophilia although the family knew that Frittie suffered from the disease.  The Times report on his death noted the little Prince's death was a "shocking accident."   The little prince "accidentally fell the other day from the window of the Palace and was killed."

One of Frittie’s godparents was his uncle, Prince Leopold, who wrote to Alice: “It is such a dear, sweet and innocent little countenance, that I cannot help saying to myself that it is perhaps well that the dear child has been spared all the trials and possibly the miseries of ill health like mine for instance.  Oh dear Alice, I know too well what it is to suffer as he would have suffered, and the great trial of not being able to enjoy life or to know what happiness is, like others.  That old saying (I don’t know whether I quoted all right); ‘Everything works good’, seems always to me such a truly comforting and good one.  When first darling Frittie was taken away from among us, I remember so well people saying: ‘It is all for the best, he would never have been well, etc.’  And I said to myself: ‘If anything happens to me, that is, what everybody will say’, and it made me feel so bitter for a time, but I think that I have now come round to see the justness of the saying which I quoted above.”

Alice received this letter after Christmas in 1873 as a thank-you for a bust of Frittie that she had sent to her brother.   She never got over the death of her second son.  Her eldest daughter Victoria was more sanguine, acknowledging that his “early death might have saved him from a semi-invalid life.”


Alice's third daughter, Irene, who married her first cousin, Prince Heinrich (Henry) of Prussia in 1888, was the mother of three sons: Waldemar (1889-1945), Sigismund (1896-1978) and Heinrich (1900-1904).  The elder and younger sons suffered from hemophilia.  

It was at Kiel on the morning of March 20, 1889, when Princess Irene “was safely confined of a son.”  The new mother, who had married Prince Heinrich – her first cousin – in May 1888, and “her Prince are said to be doing well.”  He was the eighth great-grandchild of Queen Victoria.  The original dispatch from Berlin stated that the infant prince would be named Friedrich Carl.  This would prove to be incorrect as he was named Waldemar Wilhelm Ludwig Friedrich Viktor Heinrich.   The first name honored Heinrich’s youngest brother, Prince Waldemar, who died from diphtheria at age 11 on March 27, 1879.    [Henry and Irene’s second son, Sigismund, was named for Heinrich’s next youngest brother, Prince Sigismund (1864-1866) who died of meningitis at the age of 21 months.] 

First appearances can be deceiving for parents of a hemophiliac son as Waldemar was a strong and healthy newborn.  But it was only a matter of time before Irene realized that her son shared the same genetic flaw as his first cousin, Frittie, and Prince Leopold, who had died five years earlier.  Accidents of course were inevitable, and Irene and Henry tried to maintain a restricted life for their eldest son.  He was often confined to his bed, unable to get out and be with his family.  Despite this, Irene and Henry were determined to give Toddie, as Waldemar was known in the family, as normal a life as possible.  

In 1896, Prince Henry bought Hemmelmark, a small estate near Kiel, where he and Irene lived with their three sons.  The house overlooked the Baltic Sea.   After the collapse of the German monarchy, Prince Heinrich and Princess Irene retired to Hemmelmark, where they died in 1929 and 1953, respectively.  They were allowed to remain in Germany while Heinrich’s older brother, the former Emperor was forced into exile in the Netherlands.

The New York Times profiled all of Queen Victoria’s great-grandchildren in July 1896.  Waldemar, then only 7 years old, was described as “being destined for a naval career,” thus following his father, a career officer in the German Imperial Navy.   Waldemar’s love of the sea was also shared by his mother, Princess Irene, a skilled yachtswoman.

Prince Waldemar’s education began at home as six local boys joined him at for classes.  They were taught Latin, Greek, English, French, History, and literature.  The prince was known for his sense of humor, but as he approached young adulthood, he was acutely aware of the seriousness of his illness. 

Prince Waldemar was ten years old when he received the Order of the Black Eagle, the highest order of chivalry in the Kingdom of Prussia. He also received his first honorary military appointment in the German army, bestowed on him by his uncle, Kaiser Wilhelm II.  As Waldemar's father was commanding Germany's naval fleet in East Asia, the young prince had hoped for a naval appointment.  

Waldemar had a great interest in the military but he knew that a military career was not possible  After completing his secondary education, he studied law.  He and his first cousin, Prince August Wilhelm attended the newly established Kaiser Wilhelm University in Strasburg, before returning to Kiel to continue his education at Christian Albrecht University in Kiel. For a time, his health stabilized, and he traveled the world, as Count von Falkenrehde, following in the footsteps of his father. 

A month after his brother, Prince Sigismund married Princess Charlotte Agnes of Saxe-Altenburg,  Waldemar married Princess Calixta of Lippe on August 14, 1919.  The wedding took place in the chapel at Hemmelmark.   Prince Sigismund and his wife emigrated to South America in 1924.  

The couple's marriage was childless.  They enjoyed living by the sea and Hemmelmark would remain their home for more than 20 years.  During that time, they hosted numerous relatives including their first cousins, Lord Louis and Lady Louise Mountbatten, and the Badens, among others.

For most of his life, Waldemar suffered recurrent gastric bleeding, which also caused bleeding in his knee joints.  In 1925, he spent time in a sanitarium, where he underwent x-rays that showed severe osteoarthritis in both knees.  He was only 36 years old at the time.      

In 1939, Waldemar and Calixta moved to Schloss Kamenz in Silesia.  The “fine, big castle,” was built by Princess Albrecht of Prussia (Princess Marianne of the Netherlands).   The castle was inherited by her grandson, Prince Friedrich Heinrich of Prussia (1874-1940).   This Prussian prince was known to be homosexual, and in 1939, he and other gays were rounded out by the Nazis.  He died the following year in a concentration camp.  As his two other brothers had predeceased him, and neither had issue, Schloss Kamenz, was inherited by Waldemar.  This inheritance had been arranged before Friedrich Heinrich’s arrest as he was the last of the male line of the Albertine branch of the German Imperial family.
The couple remained at Schloss Kamenz until 1945.  Three years earlier, the 17th German Army requisitioned the Schloss.  Waldemar and Calixta were forced to move into a small house on the estate.    The castle was used for the transitional storage of artworks and other stolen goods, many from Polish museums.  Before the arrival of the Soviet troops on May 8, the Germans transferred most of the collection to the western part of Germany.  

 Waldemar was in bed recovering from another stomach hemorrhage when the decision was made to flee.  Soviet troops were moving closer to Kamenz. They left their beloved home on April 14 by car and headed west toward Bavaria.  The road conditions were harsh and crowded as thousands of refugees were fleeing to the west.  The prince and princess found refuge in the home of a friend in Tutzing in Bavaria.   The stress and the poor travel conditions caused Waldemar to suffer yet another stomach ulcer.  His doctor was able to find a suitable donor for a transfusion, which briefly alleviated the prince’s condition.  

Waldemar required another transfusion.  His doctor inquired about another donor.  The Americans had liberated the area on May 1 and would not acquiesce to the doctor’s request and, his concern for his patient.   The U.S. military was diverting all medical supplies from the area and using them to treat former concentration camp prisoners.  Without another transfusion, Waldemar would not have survived another stomach hemorrhage.    He died on May 2, 1945, at Tutzing.  

Prince Waldemar was 56 years old, the longest surviving of Victoria's hemophiliac descendants.

It took several days for the grieving widow, Princess Calixta, and her lady-in-waiting Maria Kahler, to find a coffin and a gravedigger as the Americans had placed Tutzing under a curfew.   After Waldemar was buried, Calixta and the faithful Maria Kahler left Tutzing for Schloss Reinhartshausen, where she lived until her death on December 15, 1982.  

 Schloss Reinhartshausen in Erbach, Hesse, was one of the properties that Princess Marianne of the Netherlands left to her son, Prince Albrecht of Prussia.  Thus, it was one of the properties that Prince Friedrich Heinrich had transferred ownership to Prince Waldemar after the death of Friedrich Heinrich's younger brother Joachim Albrecht in 1939. As he was going to live at Schloss Kamenz, it was decided that Prince Friedrich of Prussia, the fourth son of Waldemar’s first cousin, Crown Prince Wilhelm, would take over the Schloss and its winery.  
The agreement included a clause that gave Calixta, following the death of her husband, the right to live at Rheinartshausen for the rest of her own life. 

Prince Friedrich died in 1966 and the ownership passed to his three sons: Nicholas, Andrew, and Rupert.  They sold the Schloss and the estate in 1987.    

Several years after she moved to Erbach, Calixta decided for her husband's remains to be brought from Tutzing and reburied in the ceremony at Schloss Rheinhartshausen.  She was buried beside her husband. 

Seven and half years after the birth of Waldemar, Irene gave birth to another son, Sigismund, on November 27, 1896. Sigismund was healthy and free of the hemophiliac gene. This was a relief to Heinrich and Irene. By the summer of 1899, Irene was expecting a third child.  If this child were a son, would he, too, be free of the disease?

It was on January 9, 1900, when Irene was “safely accouched” of a son at Kiel. He was given the name Heinrich Viktor Ludwig Friedrich.   His baptism was on March 15, 1900, at the castle in Kiel in the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm II.   

Young Heinrich was said to be a playful child, much adored by his parents and two older brothers. He was only four years old when he died, and the story of his death is far more tragic than originally reported.   Most biographies and historical articles stated that Princess Irene had only just left the room, when little Heinrich climbed onto a chair, and then fell, hitting his head.  Heinrich did fall off a chair and suffered a head injury, but neither of his parents was in Kiel when the accident took place.

Prince and Princess Henry were in Berlin when they received a telegram on February 8 about their son's accident.  This is corroborated by Countess Marie Keller, Empress Auguste Victoria's Hofdame in her diary.  The couple "received serious news about the youngest son who had been injured in a room, which is all the more dangerous for the little one, like Prince Waldemar, on account of the terrible hemophilia.  The poor princess received the telegram shortly before the start of the court ball, in which she was to represent the Empress.  To not excite her and not to cause her any difficulties,  the princess concealed her concern and bravely fulfilled the duty she had assumed.  It was not until the next day that she informed Her Majesty about the sad news.  The empress was shocked and moved by this evidence of the princess's devoted allegiance."

Empress Auguste Victoria told Irene that she should return to Kiel immediately.  The Prince and Princess returned to their home on February 10, two days after the accident.

Before leaving for Kiel, Prince Henry sent a telegram to his brother-in-law, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig about his son's accident.  Ernie sent a letter to his sister, Victoria to inform her that their nephew had "fallen from a chair two days ago," and Henry and Irene were returning to Kiel "today."    He added that the little boy suffers from headaches & sickness, they may hear it may be a hemorrhage to the brain."  

Victoria was in Windsor on February 10 to attend the wedding of her first cousin, Princess Alice of Athlone to Prince Alexander of Teck.  

The three boys were playing together when the accident occurred on February 8.  They decided to play trains and put chairs together to make a train, a locomotive, and carriages, one behind the other.  Prince Waldemar was the engine driver, Prince Sigismund the conductor, and Heinrich as the passenger.  At some point during the game, Heinrich's chair fell over, and the boy fell headfirst to the floor.

If Heinrich had not suffered from hemophilia, the injury would not have been serious, but due to the disease, his condition deteriorated quickly.

The Times reported (2-20-1904) that Henry's condition "still gives cause for anxiety" as his temperature rose to 101 and the "nerve center of the brain was less free from disturbance."  Two days later his condition "remained unchanged," but the "symptoms of pressure on the brain, together with moderate fever, continue."  On February 22, the pressure on Prince Henry's brain was "relieved by a puncture of the neural canal."  The four-year-old "passed a fairly quiet night" and by the next day, he was "able to take nourishment, while his strength was satisfactorily maintained."   

He underwent a second puncture of the neural canal a few days later, which afforded "the patient slight relief," but his condition remained unchanged. There was nothing the doctors could do to alleviate the internal bleeding to Heinrich's death on February 26, three weeks after he fell off the chair

[The extract from Countess Marie's diary and the details of Heinrich's death were published in Ernst Dietrich Baron von Mirbach's biography Prinz Heinrich von Preussen, which was published by Böhlau Verlag in 2013.]



Princess Alix, who was Alice's youngest surviving child, married Nicholas II, Emperor of all the Russias,  on November 26, 1894, only three weeks after the death of Nicholas's father, Alexander III.  Only days before her wedding, Alix embraced the Russian Orthodox faith and took the name Alexandra Feodorovna.  Between 1895 and 1901, Alexandra gave birth to four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia.   Succession to the Russian throne was semi-salic, which meant that all the males in the family took precedence before the females, including Nicholas' daughters.   Although there were plenty of males in the line of succession including Nicholas' younger brother, Grand Duke Michael, Alexandra was determined to give her husband a much-wanted son.  Alexis, the Tsarevich, was born on August 12, 1904.
In his diary (July 30/August 12, 1904), Nicholas II wrote: “A great and unforgettable day for us, during which we were clearly visited by the grace of God.  Alix gave birth to a son, whom we named Alexei as we prayed.”

After four daughters, Empress Alexandra presented her husband, Emperor of all the Russias, with a much-wanted heir.  Alexei was only a few weeks old when Alix realized that her son, the heir, was hemophilic.   “Alix and I were very worried because Alexei started bleeding from the navel, and it continued on and off until the evening.”   It took three days before the bleeding stopped.

Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, in her book, The Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress of Russia,  wrote: "The baby was beautiful.  He developed rapidly and seemed a strong, fine child."   But as Alexei began to crawl and then walk, he "had occasional tumbles, the Empress noticed that the boy seemed to suffer more from his bumps than the accident warranted.  In deadly terror, but without speaking of it to anyone, Alexandra Feodorovna watched her darling, with fear in her heart that she did not dare to put into words."

Alexei, Alix's "Sunbeam," suffered from the same disease that was responsible for the deaths of Alix's brother, Frittie, and her uncle Leopold.

Nicholas and Alexandra kept the news of their son's diagnosis to themselves.  Most family members did not learn the truth for some time.   The truth about Alexei's poor health was not known until after his death.

Sophie, who became Alix's lady-in-waiting in 1913, also wrote that the grief caused by Alexei's health "destroyed the Empress's joy in life. The look of sadness that had always from time to time come over her face, now settled on it forever."

This strain also affected Alexandra's health, mental and physical, her relationships with other family members, her role as empress, and her overzealous dependence on her faith and faith healers including Rasputin.  Although the public was not told about Alexis's illness, his health certainly contributed to the collapse of the Russian Empire. 

In 2009, Science magazine reported in a peer-reviewed article that geneticists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester examined the imperial bones for hemophilia's genetic markers.  Alexis did have hemophilia B and his mother and sister, Anastasia, were carriers.

Alexei suffered from ill health for most of his young life but unlike his uncle and first cousins, his death was not due to hemophilia.  During the night of July 16/17, 1918, Nicholas and Alexandra, their five children, and several loyal attendants were murdered in Ekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks.


Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, passed the hemophiliac gene to his elder child, Princess Alice (1883-1981).    Alice was a carrier, which meant that she could pass the gene to her children.    She married Prince Alexander of Teck at St. George's Chapel on February 10, 1904.  Prince Alexander was the younger brother of Princess Mary, then the Princess of Wales, the wife of the future King George V.

Alice and her husband were active members of the Royal Family and carried out numerous engagements every year. During the second world war, Alexander served as Governor-General of Canada.   In 1917, George V chose to renounce the family's German house name and titles.   Prince Alexander, whose mother, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, was a first cousin of Queen Victoria, was created Earl of Athlone and Viscount Trematon.  His family name became Cambridge.  Alice, a British princess in her own right, was styled as HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone.

The couple had three children: May (1906-1994), Rupert (1907-1928), and Maurice (1910-1910).   HSH Prince Rupert Alexander George of Teck was born at Claremont on August 27, 1907, at Claremont House in Esher.  It was a "terrible blow" for Alice and Alexander when they learned that Rupert was a hemophiliac.   Alice's biographer, Theo Aronson, wrote that the princess "kept her fears and her anguish to herself."

It was a burden, however, that she could share with her first cousin, Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, the mother of two hemophiliac sons.   Alice and Alexander spent a holiday with Alfonso and Ena in Santander, Spain, in August 1921.  It was a time for the cousins, who were "more like sisters," to talk and giggle together.  But their lives were quite different.  Ena's "sense of failure and disappointment" was not helped by Alfonso's philandering.  According to Aronson, the king "had many good qualities, but constancy, patience, and tenderness were not among them."

May and Rupert had joined their parents on the trip to Spain, and they got to know their Spanish second cousins.   As they watched their children play together, it was obvious that the burden was more difficult for Ena as Alice had a loving and supportive husband.

 Lady May, who married Henry Abel Smith in 1931, was not a carrier. 

 In January 1922, several newspapers reported that the "prominent appearance" of Princess Alice and Lord Athlone at Queen Wilhelmina's "official New Year's reception," gave credence to the "well-founded rumor" that Rupert, who was styled by the courtesy title, Viscount Trematon "is regarded as a probable candidate for Princess Juliana's hand."

Juliana, two years younger than Rupert, was Queen Wilhelmina's only child and heiress presumptive to the Dutch throne.    The Dutch, it was said, would have "welcomed rapprochement" with the United Kingdom if this marriage took place.

At the reception, the Athlones stood next to Queen Wilhelmina.  Princess Juliana was also present for the first time.  Earlier in the day, the Queen hosted a luncheon for Princess Alice and Lord Athlone, which was also attended by Princess Juliana, 12, and 14-year-old Rupert. 

The two couples had no intention of arranging a marriage between their two children.  Princess Alice and Wilhelmina were first cousins, as their mothers were sisters and good friends.  It was also likely that Wilhelmina knew about Rupert's medical condition.

Rupert attended Eton, and then Cambridge, at Trinity College, where he was an undergraduate since 1925.  It was known for some time that he was "delicate," but no news report would write why he suffered from delicate health.  

Lord Trematon and two friends, Kenrick Madocks and John Conran Stewart-Clark were involved in a car accident on April 1 in Belleville-Sur-Saone, France, on the "main Paris-Lyon Road."     Rupert was driving the car at a high speed "while attempting to pass another vehicle."  The car hit a tree and overturned.  According to eyewitnesses, Lord Trematon and Mr. Madocks were taken to the local hospital.  Mr. Stewart-Clark escaped with a few bruises.      

Kenrick Madocks suffered a fractured skull and died at the hospital.

The following evening the British Embassy announced that Lord Trematon's condition was "satisfactory." His doctors allowed him to "take some nourishment and smoke a cigarette."   His doctor flew from England to join the medical team at the local hospital.  It was announced on April 3 that Lord Trematon had suffered a "slight fracture of the skull," and was "slightly better."

Lord Trematon's parents were in South Africa where Lord Athlone served as Governor-General.

The British Embassy in Paris issued daily bulletins on Rupert's status   By April 6, his condition had improved, and "he was able to eat and drink this morning."    A message was also sent to Windsor Castle which noted that he had a "Good night. Doctor hopes danger now over."

None of the news reports included information about Rupert's hemophilia.  A bulletin issued on April 7 stated that the young man had "passed a quiet night" and was "taking food normally and that his recovery was now assured."

Queen Ena, who knew about Rupert's medical condition, sent a doctor from Spain to the hospital.

But the good news did not last.   His condition became "not so satisfactory," although a slight hemorrhage on the 10th was "declared to have been of no consequence."   The next day, he suffered another hemorrhage, which was described as serious.

Princess Alice and Princess Helena Victoria, who had been visiting the Athlones, planned to leave Cape Town on April 13, sailing to England aboard Carnarvon  Castle.  The trip to England was expected to take more than a week.  Once in England, Alice would travel to France to be with her son.   The travel plans were scuppered on the 12th when it was announced that the Princess would remain in South Africa for "further news of her son's condition.”   Alice and Alexander shared "grave anxiety" for their son.

The hemorrhages could not be stopped. A member of the staff at the Charité Hospital in Lyons offered to provide a blood transfusion.  Rupert's first cousin, George, the Marquess of Cambridge arrived at the hospital on the 12th with Major Edward Seymour, Princess Victoria's Comptroller, who brought "special medicaments" which had been requested by Rupert's doctor.

But there was little hope for recovery, as Rupert's condition took a "decided turn for the worse." Early on Sunday, April 15, he was administered morphine to allow him to die "peacefully without pain.   Lord Trematon's old governess came from England to be with him.  On Saturday night, as she sat by his side, Rupert told her, "I am going to die."

Viscount Trematon died at 3:00 a.m. on April 15, 1928.    He was 20 years old.   His remains were taken from the hospital that afternoon to Calais to be transferred by steamer to England.  King George V made all the arrangements to bring Rupert home.

The Earl of Athlone was attending church in Cape Town when word arrived of his son's death.  The news was broken to him after the service was over.  The previous autumn, Lord Trematon had visited his parents in South Africa. He and his cousin, Lord Frederick Cambridge, younger brother of the Marquess of Cambridge, were returning home aboard the Union Castle liner Windsor Castle when he suffered a “mishap” in the swimming bath where he injured both knees.   He was confined to his rooms at Kensington Palace but recovered after a few weeks.

After Viscount Trematon's body arrived in Windsor, King George V and Queen Mary issued a message to Windsor's Mayor Sir William Carter: "The Queen and I warmly thank the inhabitants of Windsor for their kind expression of sympathy on the death of Lord Trematon conveyed in your telegram.  We realize how closely the memory of our dear nephew was associated with Windsor, where so much of his life was spent."

Rupert's parents and sister, Lady May Cambridge, were unable to attend the funeral on April 20, 1928, at St. George's Chapel.   The King and Queen were present as were other members of the Royal Family, the Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of York, the Duke of Gloucester, Prince George, Princess Victoria, Princess Arthur of Connaught, the Marquess of Cambridge, Dowager Marquess of Cambridge, Lord Frederick Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort, and Colonel and Lady Helena Gibbs.  

Princess Alice, in her memoirs, For My Grandchildren, wrote: "In April 1928 we suffered the greatest tragedy of our lives in the loss of our only son, my beloved Rupert."  She recounted the accident and the aftermath.  "We spent agonizing days owing to the vague and scanty reports we received.  The news of his death made us feel that life could never be quite the same again, as he had grown into such a marvellous companion and was so loving and so full of vitality. Our only comfort was that he had had such a happy life."

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, the widow of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, third son of George V, first met Rupert in Africa, although Alice was six years older.  She remembered the high-spirited young man “who seemed like a perfectly normal,” as he joined in a “riotous – and, for him, dangerous - family of ‘billiard fives.’” game.

Alice's younger son, Prince Maurice, was 5.5 months old when he died.  He was not a hemophiliac.  



Three of Princess Beatrice's descendants were hemophiliacs: her second son, Leopold, and two grandsons, Alfonso, Prince of the Asteria, and Infante Gonzalo of Spain, the eldest and youngest children of Beatrice's only daughter, Ena, the consort of King Alfonso XIII of Spain.

HSH Prince Leopold Arthur Louis of Battenberg was born at Windsor Castle on May 21, 1889.   He was the third child and second son of Princess Beatrice and her husband, Prince Henry of Battenberg. Neither of his brothers, Prince Alexander, and Prince Maurice suffered from the disease.  His sister, Ena, was a carrier.  

Queen Victoria, Prince Henry, and Henry's sister, Marie, Countess of Erbach-Schönburg, were present when Beatrice gave birth to Leopold.  Victoria described her newest grandson as "a particularly pretty child, large, fat and with darkish hair."

It would not take long for Leopold's parents to realize that he was a hemophiliac. It was never discussed publicly, but the press did note that he was a sickly child.  

Princess Beatrice was not the most attentive or compassionate of mothers.   Marie Mallet retired from the court as a Maid of Honour after Queen Victoria's death in January 1901.  That summer, she accompanied Princess Beatrice, acting as her lady-in-waiting, on a trip to Germany as Beatrice wanted to spend time with her eldest sister, Victoria who was dying.    Leopold was also on the trip.  He became ill, and rather than stop caring for him, Beatrice left him behind at the hotel as she continued her journey.  

Marie Mallet was bewildered by Beatrice's decision to leave her ill son behind.  "The Princess tries to cultivate the maternal instinct -- she loses so much. Leopold is an angel child, so sweet and attractive. He pines for someone to cling to -- he wants petting and spoiling.   Beatrice abandoned her son to visit her sister, who was near death.

In the early spring of 1904, Leopold, Ena, and their cousin, Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, accompanied their mother on a trip to Egypt.  The children returned home while Beatrice stopped at Nice, France, to spend several weeks with the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.  The Times commented that Prince Leopold "has considerably improved in health in consequence of his tour in Egypt with his mother."   

 In November 1905, Leopold, whose health was "much improved" returned to Cairo by the P & O steamship Arabia.  He spent the winter in the warmer climate and returned to London in the spring as his sister, Ena, was engaged to marry King Alfonso XIII of Spain. The following year, he traveled to the Canary Islands for a visit in December 1906.  The 17-year-old prince also visited Madeira and the Azores.

Prince Leopold often spent the winters in warmer climes, but he also would visit Coburg to spend time with the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.   

It was not always easy to hide his precarious health.  

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 In November 1909, he was "suffering from complications which have followed a recent attack of influenza," but there appeared to be a "slight improvement in his condition."

The Times acknowledged that he had been "in difficult health for some time" and would visit Madeira and other warm climates for his health.  Complications had set in after an attack of influenza which was followed by a "more than usually serious" seizure.

The concern for Leopold's health was real as Queen Ena, traveling incognito as the Countess of Toledo, arrived in London on November 24.  Leopold was a patient at a nursing home in Manchester Square and his condition was critical.  On November 25 he had passed a "restless night," but was able to take some nourishment.  By December 5, his recovery was progressing well enough to allow him to go for an automobile ride.

As he was "making satisfactory progress" no further bulletins were to be expected to be announced.

Within days he was back home at Kensington Palace.  On December 23 he accompanied his mother to see the Fallen Fairies at the Savoy Theatre.  By the end of the year, he was well enough to accompany his younger brother, Prince Maurice, to Spain to visit Ena and Alfonso.   

 But in mid-January, Reuters reported that Leopold was "indisposed" and unable to leave the palace in Madrid, although Prince Maurice left Spain on January 16 to return to England.  

By January 21, 1910, it was apparent that Prince Leopold had suffered a relapse.

 "The condition of Prince Leopold of Battenberg, which was not satisfactory this afternoon, slightly improved this evening."
Queen Ena spent the day with her brother in his apartment.  She sent a message to the King who had been out hunting, and he returned at 5 p.m.    Leopold's present illness was diagnosed as a "relapse of the one from which he suffered in London, the symptoms being identical."

His doctor arrived in Madrid on January 26.  After consulting with the two palace doctors, it was agreed that Leopold had made "steady progress" toward recovery and was able to have solid food, and even leave his room.

He attended Magdalene College at Oxford, where he was known for his debating skills.   Although he had suffered ill health from childhood, Leopold "never lacked courage and determination."  He was in a race at Osborne with Prince Arthur of Connaught when he "fell in a dead faint" at the finish line.  When he received it, he turned to his mother and said, "I did win, didn't I?"

Before the outbreak of the war, Prince Leopold made several overseas trips to the Philippines and Japan.  He also took part in yachting races at Cowes and was often at court events, including the Coronation of his first cousin, King George V, in June 1911.

On July 16, 1911, a statement was issued from Osborne Cottage: "His Highness Prince Leopold of Battenberg met with an accident on Saturday whilst proceeding to join the Territorial camp at Lulworth, Dorset.  The horse that the prince was riding bolted and fell, and his Highness sustained several cuts on the head and arm.  He is progressing favourably."

Prince Leopold had joined the Territorials in 1910 and he was attending his first camp.   He had left Osborne Cottage only a few days earlier to join his regiment at Cowes and then crossed the Solent to Southampton.  The accident took place between the Wool Railway station and the camp.  Details of the accident were not released, but Leopold was attended by the camp doctor.  He returned to Cowes on Princess Beatrice's yacht, Sheila.    His head was wrapped in a bandage and his arm in a sling.  He appeared "much shaken" but he was able to walk from the landing deck to the car, in which he drove back to Osborne Cottage.

Only one bulletin was issued after he returned to Osborne Cottage.  It was noted that he was making good progress, and he was doing as well as "could be expected."  He was well enough to take part in yachting races at the end of July.   

In October he returned to Cowes but on the 19th, he was reported to be "indisposed" and confined to his bed at Osborne Cottage.  By early November he was able to leave Osborne Cottage and return to London.   On November 9, he joined his mother and brothers at a family dinner hosted by King George V at Buckingham Palace.

During a visit to New Zealand in February 1911, Prince Leopold was in New Zealand when he became "seriously ill" and was transferred to a private hospital in Sydney, Australia.  The Reuters dispatch stated that his "illness has not been diagnosed."  The following day another dispatch was released, providing more information.  Leopold was "suffering from an affection of the throat," but his condition was not serious.   In early March, he was reported to be "convalescent."  A month later, he arrived in Manilla and was said to be in good health.

In May 1912, the prince suffered a "slight indisposition" that kept him from accompanying his regiment, the Isle of Wight (Princess Beatrice's) Rifles to their camp at Newtown, on the Isle of Wight.  It was not reported when he was able to rejoin his regiment, but he was well enough to attend the Derby Night Ball at Devonshire House on June 5, hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.

  His health condition notwithstanding, Lord Leopold received a supernumerary commission in October 1909 in the 8th Battalion on the Isle of Wight Rifles, one of the UK's Territorial Force units.  

After the 1912 Cowes season was over, Princess Beatrice put Osborne House up for sale.  She decided to take up her right to live in Carisbrooke Castle as the Governor-General of the Isle of Wight.   Beatrice's husband, Prince Henry of Battenberg who died in 1896, had not left a great fortune for his family.  Their three sons, including Leopold, were expected to earn their livings.  Leopold lent his name to the Victor Tyre company, providing a testimony (in exchange for a check) that was included in an advertisement in the Times in April 1913.  "The Victor non-skid Tyre which I have on my car (a powerful and heavy vehicle) has run 3,000 miles, and has not a scratch on it, which is pretty good."

As the son of a princess, Leopold was never destined to become a working royal.  He supported several charities and organizations.  As the president of the Port of London Sea Scouts committee, in April 1914, he unveiled a tablet at St. Agatha's church at Shoreditch. 

When World War I broke out, Prince Leopold wanted to serve, as best he could.   His illness kept him from being sent to the front.  In April 1915, he was promoted from Second Lieutenant and temporary lieutenant to Lieutenant in the King's Royal Rifle Corps, although he would never see action unlike his younger brother, Prince Maurice, who was killed in action in October 1914.   During the war, In February 1916, the Prince was able to travel to Madrid to visit his sister and returned to London after spending several days in Paris.

From his barracks at Aldershot, in March 1914, Leopold wrote to the Battalion's Regimental Commandant, Colonel J.E.B Seely: "I wanted to thank you so much for your kindness in getting me my regular commission. I am more than grateful, as I have always wanted to be able to soldier seriously and never thought I should be able to do so," Leopold wrote to the Battalion's Regimental Commandant, Colonel J.E.B Seely.

Leopold was promoted to Captain in October 1916 but due to his health, he would remain "seconded" for the duration of the war.

 Four years later, he received a commission in the King's Royal Rifle Corps.   Between 1914-1916, he received several promotions, with the last promotion to Captain in September 1916.    

In 1917, after he and other family members renounced their German titles, Leopold was given the rank of a younger son of a Marquess, as his older brother Alexander was created Marquess of Cambridge.   His new title: Lord Leopold Mountbatten.

 In April 1918, the London Gazette included in its military lists: Capt. L A.L. Mountbatten, GVCO, "is placed on the h.p. (half-pay) lists on account of ill-health contracted on active service."

He was named as an extra aide-de-camp in the War Office in July 1916.  He held this position until January 1917.  By "special command" of King George V, Leopold resigned his army commission in April 1920.  The king granted him the honorary rank of Major.

In the final years of Leopold's life, he traveled to Spain to visit his sister and her family.  He was often at court to attend levees, lunches, and dinners with the king and queen, memorial services, and funerals, including the funeral of his uncle, the Marquess of Milford Haven.  In October 1920, he set out for Mombasa, Kenya, another warm climate, for his health.  One of the last events he attended was the wedding of King George V's only daughter, Princess Mary, in February 1922.

Lord Leopold underwent a hip operation at Kensington Palace on April 22, 1922.  The first announcement did not bode well for the young man's health.  "Lord Leopold underwent a serious operation during the night, and his condition is critical."

The Times noted that the cause of Leopold's illness was abdominal.  A late afternoon bulletin announced that there was a "slight improvement in Lord Leopold's condition."   That evening a further bulletin was issued: "Lord Leopold is slightly better this evening, but his condition is still critical."

Lord Leopold was only 33 years old when he died on April 23, 1922, at 9:30 in the morning.    He had suffered "from some affection of the hip, which rendered him lame," and required a serious operation. 

Princess Beatrice was in Palmero, Italy when she received word of her son's death.   She arrived in London on the evening of April 27.   The princess had been met in Paris by her son, Lord Carisbrooke.  They traveled to Dover, where Lady Carisbrooke was waiting for them.  Before Beatrice arrived, Leopold's body was taken from their apartment in Kensington Palace to St. James's Palace, before the final journey to Windsor on May 1.

 Queen Ena and her two daughters, Infanta Beatriz and Infanta Maria Cristina arrived from Spain at the end of April.

The funeral was held at St. George's Chapel on May 1.  The chief mourners were the King and Queen, Princess Beatrice, Field Marshall the Duke of Connaught, the Marquess and Marchioness of Carisbrooke, and the Marquess of Milford Haven.  They were joined by the Duke of York, Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles, Prince George, the Princess Royal (representing Queen Alexandra), Princess Maud, Infante Alfonso, and Infanta Beatrice of Orleans-Borbon, Lady Patricia Ramsay, and the Hon. Alexander Ramsay, Princess Alice and the Earl of Athlone, Princess Helena Victoria, Princess Marie Louise, and the Marquess of Cambridge.  

The King and Queen of Norway, the Prince of Wales, the Crown Prince of Sweden, the Duchess of Albany, and Prince Arthur of Connaught all sent representatives to the funeral.

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Queen Ena and King Alfonso XIII were the parents of four sons, one of who died at birth, and two daughters.   Infantas Beatriz and Maria Cristina were not carriers.

Alfonso's mother, the Dowager Queen Maria Cristina, did not want Alfonso to marry a Protestant princess.  She wanted her son to marry her niece, Archduchess Gabriele (1887-1954), the daughter of her brother, Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen.   Although he respected his mother, he was very much in love with Ena.   It took eight months before Queen Maria Cristina finally agreed to the marriage and she wrote to Princess Beatrice to arrange a meeting.  It was said that Alfonso had fallen "deeply in love" with the blonde, British-born princess.

The King was also informed about the danger of hemophilia in their sons.  The messenger was the Marquis of Vukka-Urrutia, Spain's Foreign Minister who had accompanied Alfonso to London in 1905 for the premarital negotiations.  The Marquis had revealed to the King’s Cabinet ministers the warnings he had received while in London.    The warnings had come from King Edward VII, Princess Beatrice, the Marquess of Lansdowne (the Foreign Secretary), and Ena herself.  Another warning to the King came from the Marquis of Villobar, a protégé of Empress Eugenie, thus someone who would prove to be the ally in promoting the marriage.

Ena, Princess Beatrice, and King Edward warned King Alfonso about the incidence of hemophilia in their family.  He was determined to marry Ena and believed that if they had several sons, some would escape the diseases.  This proved to be true.  The couple's second and third sons, Jaime, and Juan, did not have the disease, although Jaime, who also renounced his rights to the throne in 1933, was deaf and mute due to a childhood illness.

Ena was approaching her first wedding anniversary when she gave birth to a son and heir at the Royal Palace on May 10, 1907.   The new Prince of Asturias was named Alfonso Pío Cristino Eduardo Francisco Guillermo Carlos Enrique Eugenio Fernando Antonio Venancio.  Seven years later, Ena gave birth to her seventh (sixth surviving) child, Gonzalo Manuel Maria Bernardo Narciso Alfonso Mauricio.   The final name, Mauricio, honored Ena's youngest brother, Prince Maurice who had been killed in action three days after Gonzalo's birth and shortly before the infant was baptized.

Alfonso and Gonzalo's illness was kept from the Spanish public, although it was known that both suffered from ill health.   Ena and her first cousin, Empress Alexandra shared the anguish of knowing that their eldest sons, heirs to two thrones, were hemophiliacs.   The boys were educated privately.  They often wore special jackets to protect them from injuries.  He had professed an interest in becoming a sailor, but King Alfonso XIII "decreed a military career for him."

After his circumcision. Alfonso's parents realized that he was a hemophiliac, as the bleeding from the incision took far longer to stop.  Although King Alfonso knew that a son could inherit the gene, he was devastated.  He blamed his wife for their son's illness.  The couple would have six more children, but their marriage was over as the king sought comfort with several mistresses.  

The young Alfonso learned to fly as a teenager.  In 1925, during the Riff war in Morocco, he "commanded a squadron of Fokker bombardment planes at the front." He soon suffered a relapse and was said to "be content with a quieter life."  

 Young Alonso enjoyed shooting and dancing, mild activities for normal young men, but for Alfonso, participation in these activities often led to "long periods of sickness."

The Prince of Asturias had two interests: raising livestock and radio.  At his estate in Segovia, he specialized in raising hogs. He collected prize pigs from all over the world and maintained an important library on the subject.   He also wanted to improve the breeding of chickens in Spain and imported Rhode Island Reds from the United States to help with the breeding.

The young heir was extremely popular in Spain.  He "traveled extensively" in Spain and was described by Americans as a "blond, jovial, courteous youth with a fondness for American ways --so much that he even learned the Charleston."    But there were also questions about his health affecting his position as heir to the throne.  In October 1926, the New York Times reported that there was a "possibility" that King Alfonso and the Government would name a new heir "on account of the bad health of the Prince of Asturias."   This was based on a rumor that was circulating in Spain and it was officially denied.

The Prince of Asturias' health was described as "indeed indifferent" but the condition does not "endanger his life," but the unnamed condition "brings on attacks" that incapacitated him for exercise, horsemanship, and sports that the king loved and wanted his children to practice.

In October 1926, the Associated Press reported about a dispatch to the French newspaper Matin that the Prince of the Asturias "is a hemophile like the late Crown Prince of Russia and the frequency of his hemorrhages removes all hope for the complete recovery of his health."   The convalescence for the 19-year-old Alfonso had been "very slow" and he was expected to "remain absolutely quiet" at Pardo Chalet, near Madrid.    

When the royal family went into exile on April 15, 1931, Alfonso had been confined to his bed and had to be carried out to one of the cars provided for the royal family's departure.

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In 1933, Alfonso married a Cuban commoner Edelmira Sampedro-Ocejo y Robato.  They had met in a sanitarium in Switzerland where both were patients. 

The marriage took place in Lausanne on June 23, 1933.   Having renounced his royal titles, his rights, and the rights of his descendants to the Spanish throne, Alfonso was given the title Count of Covadonga by his disapproving father.

Alfonso was treated for hemophilia throughout his life.  He was in Havana in February 1936, where he received at least three blood transfusions for an "intrinsically external abscess on his thigh."

A Cuban medical student offered to be a donor.  It was an intricate, delicate process: "the exact rate of three drops, a minute over a period of eight hours."  Alfonso was comatose, sometimes awakening and asking if his father, King Alfonso XIII, had made inquiries about him.

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 He was not told that his father had not made a request about his condition.   It was evident to all that Alfonso XIII, living in exile in Rome, had not forgiven his eldest son for marrying a commoner and renouncing his rights.  Queen Ena, estranged from her husband, but also in Rome, did telephone her son, who was being treated at the home of his in-laws.

Although his doctors proclaimed the transfusions to be a success, Alfonso remained in critical condition.  He would remain semi-invalid for the rest of his short life, although he did "regain a measure of health," until August when he suffered another hemorrhage in New York City.  He spent time at Presbyterian Hospital, where he received 11 blood transfusions after an operation.   In September, Queen Ena traveled from Europe to visit her son in the hospital.  It was the last time she would see her eldest son.

His marriage to Edelmira ended in divorce in 1937.  He married another Cuban woman, Marta Esther Rocafort y Alturazza, in a civil ceremony in Havana at the Spanish embassy in July 1937.  Shortly before his second marriage, the Count of Covadonga told the press that if he remained single, his father would restore his rights. "In the face of His Majesty's ultimatum, I am unwavering.  I am marrying Marta Rocafort.  The re-establishment of my rights of succession to the throne lies entirely in the hands of General Francisco Franco, supreme head of the revolution, who will decide the future of my country and my family.'

The marriage failed after two months and in January 1938, the marriage was dissolved by divorce.

It was at 3:00 a.m. at the intersection of Biscayne Boulevard and 82nd Street, when Alfonso and Mildred Gideon, a 25-year-old cigarette girl in a Miami nightclub, in a car that Gideon was driving crashed into a utility pole as she swerved to avoid a truck.  Graydon's injuries were not serious, and she was not hospitalized.  She said she had known the count for several months and they were "good friends."

Several of the news reports for Alfonso's illnesses and death described hemophilia as the "curse of Bourbons" and it affected all male members of the Bourbon family, which of course was incorrect.  

He suffered from lacerations about the head and a right broken leg, minor injuries for a healthy person, but for a hemophilic, it was a death sentence.

Shortly before he succumbed to his injuries, Alfonso called out in Spanish for his mother, and he told his secretary, Jack Fleming: "I'm all alone in this country. For God's sake, please do not leave me, Jack."

Alfonso was only 31 years old when he died shortly after noon at the Victoria Hospital in Miami, Florida, on September 6, 1938.   He was buried at Graceland Memorial Park.  In 1985, his remains were removed and re-interred at the Pantheon of the Princes in El Escorial.  The remains of Queen Ena (exhumed from a cemetery in Lausanne) and Infante Gonzalo (Austria) were also re-interred at the same time.

Gonzalo loved sports.  When he was nine years old, he opened Estadio Chamartin, the new football stadium in Madrid.  After the Spanish Republic was established in April 1931, Gonzalo left the country with his mother as the royal family went into exile.   The fall of the monarchy meant that he could not attend the University of Madrid.  It was decided that he would study engineering at the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium.

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 In August 1934, Infante Gonzalo and his family were spending the summer as the guests of Count Ladislas von Hoyos at his villa in  Pörtschach am Wörthersee in Austria.   Infanta Beatriz, driving her car, wanted to take her youngest brother to see the lake.  They left Klagenfurt and headed toward Krumpendorf where they tried to overtake a cyclist who was zigzagging across the road.   Beatriz slowed down and tried to pass the cyclist, but he "suddenly swerved to the right, just in front of her car.

The Infanta tried to avoid hitting the man, as she turned right and "ran against the walls of Krumpendorf Castle."

Neither Beatriz nor Gonzalo suffered external injuries.  They drove back to Pörtschach where Gonzalo went to bed.  King Alfonso, with no knowledge of what had happened, had gone to the local casino.  It was about 10:00 p.m. when he learned that Gonzalo was ill.  Alfonso returned to the villa and a doctor was called. The young Infante had suffered no external injuries but, internally, he was bleeding to death.

King Alfonso and Infanta Beatriz were at Gonzalo's bedside when he died the next morning, August 13, 1934, at 1:00 a.m.  His death was due to "an internal hemorrhage following heart failure and an advanced stage of hemophilia.”

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 The grieving king issued a statement later that day.  "My son was suffering from hemophilia to such a degree the slightest shock was always liable to prove fatal."

Queen Victoria Eugenia was in Davos, Switzerland when she received a telegram announcing her son's death.  She left immediately for Pörtschach.   Gonzalo was buried in a local cemetery.  More than 50 years later, his remains were removed to the Pantheon at the El Escorial in Madrid.

The funeral took place on August 15 at Count Hoyos' villa.

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Don Gonzalo loved roses.  His father's wreath was of red roses.  Queen Ena sent a wreath of yellow roses and his brother and sisters sent white roses.   The former king and queen and members of their family walked behind the coffin.


The hemophiliac gene appears to have disappeared as a single great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria did not inherit it.  Lady May Abel Smith and Infantas Beatriz and Maria Cristina of Spain were the only three extant lines.  None were carriers.  Lady May and Infanta Beatriz were the parents of sons, none of whom were hemophiliacs.  None of the daughters of the three women passed the gene to their descendants.  

  But where did the gene come from?  In her seminal biography, Queen Victoria Born to Succeed, Elizabeth Longford wrote: "Queen Victoria herself, not her cousin Albert of Saxe-Coburg, transmitted the disease.  She may have inherited the genes through her mother, the Duchess of Kent, a princess of Saxe-Coburg.  This seems unlikely since no instances of hemophilia can be traced on either side of the Duchess' family; on the other hand, the records may be faulty, as so many children died in infancy; but the source of the disease is probably traced to a spontaneous mutation in the genes which Victoria inherited from her mother."

Lady Longford was a great biographer, but she was not a geneticist. The honest answer is this: we may know because so extraordinarily little was known about the disease during Victoria's lifetime   It is also important to understand that the Duchess of Kent's maternal lines were minor German royal and princely houses.   Charlotte Zeepvat, in her biography, Prince Leopold, the Untold Story of Queen Victoria's Youngest Son, wrote: "Spontaneous mutation is seen as the most likely cause of Queen Victoria's damaged gene. But there is a possibility that the true route of the disease lies hidden in the Queen's female ancestry.  Her mother was a Saxe-Coburg by birth, and her mother a Reuss-Ebersdorf.  Tracing the family tree back in the female line to the Queen's great-great-grandmother, Ferdinande, Countess of Stolberg, and out along its branches, an interesting picture starts to emerge."

Zeepvat offers several examples of deaths of young males in the family, including Count Alfred Mensdorff-Pouilly, who was the third of six sons of Princess Sophie of Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld, younger sister of the Duchess of Kent, and Count Emmanuel Mensdorff-Pouilly.  Alfred, a first cousin of Queen Victoria, was born in January 1812.  At the age of two, he became detached.  The doctors determined that this was due to "over-long teething," but Alfred's grandmother, Augusta, believed that Alfred's illness was more serious.   She wrote in her diary on April 14, 1814: "Early today Alfred frightened us out of our wits. Suddenly he developed weakness in his leg, and he crawled, and for some time could not get about at all ... The doctor blames it all on teeth."   

The little boy had no outward sign of illness.  The weakness dissipated but returned on April 22.  Two days later, Alfred's father returned home and noticed "the poor little one already unconscious with inward convulsions in his little head."  Alfred died on April 28, 1814,

Charlotte Zeepvat makes it clear that Alfred "may not have been hemophiliac" but his lameness was similar to what Leopold had suffered.  A year after the death of Alfred, Sophie gave birth to another son, Leo Emanuel.  He was a healthy child until he was six years old.  The little boy had been playing outside with friends until 7:00 p.m. He was put to bed, only to wake up in the early hours of the next day in pain.    Princess Sophie wrote in her diary: "his screams rent my heart, he had more convulsions, struggled and suffered until half-past three! Then the dear blue eyes grew blind in everlasting night."

Queen Victoria maintained that the disease was "not in the family."   But she nor the most learned of doctors would not have known how hemophilia came into her family.   There is no probable cause for a spontaneous mutation at the time of Victoria's conception.   It is also plausible that the gene was from the Duchess of Kent's family.

No historian will say one is right, and the other is wrong. 

If you liked this article. You can buy me a coffee or a skinny vanilla latte .....


Unknown said...

Great article. Thank you

KM said...

This was a wonderful article, very interesting.

Bridget =) said...

Fascinating. And shocking when you see it all laid out like that!

mstj said...

Thank you for this article. Is it known if Prince Maurice of Teck (1910), son of Princess Alice, was a haemophiliac too, and if his early death was related to the condition? I had heard somewhere that, as the daughter of a haemophiliac, Alice passed her condition on to all of her sons.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

I would have included him if he were a hemophiliac. I expect he may have died of IDS (Cot death), but Alice blames it on different foods in Germany. Lady May confirmed years ago that he did not have the disease.

Unknown said...

Great article as always Marlene!!!!....some time ago I read online about the possibility that Queen Victoria inherited the haemophiliac gene through her mother the Dowager Duchess of Kent; this source (sadly I don't remember where I readed) says that the Dowager Duchess in turn, could had inherited the disease from her own mother, the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (born Princess Augusta Reuss zu Ebersdorf)...the article says that the Reuss family had a long string of male members who died in infancy or very young without apparent reason; although this cannot be a conclusive argument I became quite intrigued and after some research I found indeed that the Reuss family had several male members who died in infancy or fairly could be interesting if someone could trace the disease in this family...

MAXny said...

Very good.

Susan Cosnick said...

That was facinating. Congratulations on a great article.

Faris Zahid said...

The article written is really great and informative. will be looking further for these type of posts. Thanks.

Andrea said...

Poor Prince Leopold , Duke of Albany.

A good article.