Monday, March 1, 2021

Princess Helena's son now Duke of Schleswig-Holstein

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March 1, 1921

Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein, the only surviving son of Princess Helena, has succeeded Ernst Gunther, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, who died on February 22 without issue.    The new Duke is Ernst Gunther's first cousin as their fathers were brothers.

Albert is the younger and only surviving son of Princess Helena, the third daughter of Queen Victoria, and the late Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein.   He was born at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park and educated at Charter House School.  Following the death of his cousin, Albert becomes the titular head of the house of Schleswig-Holstein.  He has inherited a large fortune including+ the "great estate of Primkenau, in Silesia," and other properties.  He will also receive an annuity of $80,000, which which is paid annually by the Prussian treasury as a "quid pro quo for the renunciation by the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein," when the two duchies were incorporation into the kingdom of Prussia, reported the Marquis de Fontenoy in the Washington Post.

He had become the heir after his elder brother, Prince Christian Victor, renounced his rights to the Schleswig-Holstein dukedom in favor of his younger brother as he was "unwilling to give up his English nationality" and his military career.

Prince Christian Victor died of enteric fever in October 1900.

Albert severed his connection with the British army and moved to Germany.  He became a German citizen and joined the Prussian army.  He also graduated from several officers' training schools and was appointed to the German Army's general staff.

The recent war  was difficult for Albert, as he was "too closely connected with the land of his birth."  Empress Auguste Viktoria, who was Ernst Gunther's sister, had maintained a close relationship with Albert as the two had spent a lot of time at Cumberland House when they were children.

After the war had broken out, Albert made it clear that he would not take up arms against the United Kingdom.  He offered to fight on the Russian front.  Both the Emperor and Empress respected his decision,   Wilhelm II arranged for Albert to be assigned to General von Lowenfeld's staff.  Von Lowenfeld served as the military Governor of Berlin.

Wilhelm II and Albert were also first cousins, both grandsons of Queen Victoria.  

In Berlin, Albert found himself with little to do.  He "devoted his time" to help British citizens in internment camps and British prisoners of war.

The late Duke was a "source of no end of trouble and exasperation" to his sister and brother-in-law.  He married in 1898 to Princess Dorothea of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a granddaughter of King Leopold II of the Belgians.   The new Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein was only 17 at the time of marriage and her husband was approaching his 35 birthday.

As the marriage produced no children, the focus for the succession centered on Ernst Gunther's British-born cousin, Prince Albert, who is not married.

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