Sunday, February 28, 2010

Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany

Leopold George Duncan Albert was born at Buckingham Palace in 1853, the 8th child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Prince Leopold was diagnosed with hemophilia as a baby. He lived to be 30 years old.

Queen Victoria used chloroform during Leopold's birth, and women used the drug widely after she thus "sanctioned" it.

Leopold attended Oxford and received an honorary doctorate in civil law. He traveled to Canada to visit his sister Louise (who was wife of Canada's Governor-General) and toured there, and in the United States.

Leopold couldn't pursue a military career so he became a patron of the arts. He served as unofficial secretary to his mother, as did his sisters. He wanted to be appointed to a governorship in either Canada or Australia, but was rejected because of his health.

Prince Leopold became understandably stifled by his mother's desire to keep him close to her. He began to see marriage as a way out of that situation. Of course, he had difficulty finding a wife, due to his hemophilia. Alice Liddell, daughter of the vice-chancellor at Oxford (and the subject of the book Alice in Wonderland) was one prospect, but that didn't work out.

After this and several other rejections, Leopold's mother stepped in and procured (suggested, I mean) Princess Helene Frederike of Waldeck and Pyrmont. The couple were married in 1882. They had a happy, though brief, marriage. They had a daughter Alice (I find that insulting to the Princess, but that is only my opinion) and a son, Charles Edward, born a few month's after Leopold's death.

Royal hemophiliacs often are surrounded by resident doctors (and even guards) to make sure they don't get hurt, but they always do anyway. Leopold was no different, and suffered many childhood (and later) bleeding episodes. In the end, he slipped on a yacht (in Cannes, France) and fell, injuring his knee. He died the next morning, though some say it was from the overzealous amount of morphine he was given. Other stories say it was his head that was injured and that he died of a brain hemorrhage.

Leopold is the great-grandfather of the current king of Sweden.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught

Arthur William Patrick Albert, born 1850 at Buckingham Palace, was the seventh child and third son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Arthur spent 40 years in the British Army at various posts in her majesty's empire. He was appointed viceroy (Governor General) of Canada by his nephew George V and served there in World War One. Then he returned to the United Kingdom, and there and in India, performed various royal duties until his retirement in 1928. He died in 1942 at the age of 91.

It is said he became the queen's favorite child. While in the army stationed in Canada, he attended balls and garden parties and visited towns in Ontario and Quebec. These things were all documented by photographs which were sent back for his mother to enjoy. Someone told Queen Victoria that the Canadians hoped Arthur would someday return as their Governor General. He did.

Arthur married a Prussian princess and they had three children.

In addition to his 40 years of military service, during which he rose to the rank of general, then field marshall, he also:

was elected Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, and

commissioned a stained glass window in his family's memory which he had placed in St. Bartholomew's church, where his family attended services.

Earlier, in Canada, Arthur had laid a cornerstone to a new government building.

In later life, Arthur became president of the Boy Scouts Association and performed the official opening of the 3rd World Scout Jamboree.

The duke retired from all this in 1928.


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