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The problem with Prince Francis of Teck was that due to his morganatic status he had no inheritance and as a penniless prince he had few prospects because those who had the misfortune of being born of morganatic unions were often shunned in German society where status was everything. Not to say Britain did not have its class system, it did and still does, its just that the German class system was much more harsh than the British class system. Queen Victoria had no pretensions toward offspring of morganatic unions. So when it came time to find a spouse for the rather plump Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge, The Prince of Teck was actually a suitable choice.

Princess Mary-Adelaide was a third cousin once-removed from her husband via their shared descent from King George II of Great Britain (1727-1760). The couple married on 12 June 1866 at St. Anne’s Church, Kew in Surrey. The couple lived on Mary Adelaide’s Parliamentary allowance of £5,000 per annum (this would be equivalent to ca. £525,000 in 2013). their income was supplemented by her mother, The Duchess of Cambridge. However, it was not sufficient and Mary Adelaide’s requests to her cousin, Queen Victoria, for more funds were met with refusal; however. They were fortunate to be given a grace-and-favour apartment in Kensington Palace, London and a country house, White Lodge. In 1871 Prince Francis was created Duke of Teck by the King Carl of Württemberg. The Duke and Duchess sadly had a habit of living beyond their means which lead to the build-up of large debts. Because of this the Tecks fled the UK in 1883 to continental Europe, where they stayed with relatives in Florence and Germany. They eventually returned to the UK in 1885.

On July 1st 1887, Queen Victoria granted The Duke of Teck the style Highness, as a gift to celebrate her Golden Jubilee.This was only for when they were in Britain. Under German rules, where the Duke of Teck’s titles originated, they remainedt a lower status of Serene Highness. Only the King of Württemberg could elevate their titles. Despite this elevation of titles in Britain the Tecks were still seen as minor relatives, with little status or wealth. However, their fortunes did improve when their only daughter, Princess Victoria-Mary of Teck (known as May to her family) became engaged to the second-in-line to the British throne, HRH Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence & Avondale.

There was initial opposition to this engagement from the Duke of Clarence’s parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales (future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) Arthur Balfour wrote to Lord Salisbury in 1890 that “(t)he Teck girl they won’t have because they hate Teck and because the vision of Princess Mary haunting Marlborough House makes the Prince of Wales ill.” Despite this objection Queen Victoria gave her official consent to the engagement on December 12, 1891. Sadly, this union was to never be for the Duke of Clarence died from pneumonia only six weeks later. However, Queen Victoria was very fond of Princess May and desired that after a time of suitable mourning the Duke of Clarence’s brother (and next in the line of succession), Prince George, Duke of York,should marry Princess May.

In 1897 the Duchess of Teck, Princess Mary-Adelaide, died, leaving Francis a widower. The Duke of Teck continued to live at White Lodge, Richmond, but did not carry out any Royal duties, although he continued to receive the late Duchess’ Parliamentary annuity. The Duke of Teck died on January 21, 1900 at White Lodge (one year prior to the death of Queen Victoria). The Duke of Teck was buried next to his wife in the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.

This ends the look at the Earl of Athlone’s father, the Duke of Teck. Next week I will complete the examination of the German heritage by examining the Earl’s paternal grand-father and other distant German relations from his family tree.