Alfred Duke of Edinburgh, Alfred Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Death, Emperor Alexander II of Russia, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom
On this date in history: February 6, 1899. The death of Alfred, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, at the age of 24.
Prince Alfred of Edinburgh was born on October 15, 1874 at Buckingham Palace, London. His father was Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, second eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. His mother, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, was a daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine.
He was a grandson of both Queen Victoria and Tsar Alexander II of Russia.
The exact circumstances of Alfred’s death are not known, and varying accounts have been published. His sister Marie’s memoirs simply say his health “broke down”, and other writers have said that he had “consumption.” The Times published an account stating he had died of a tumor, while the Complete Peerage gives the generally accepted account that he “shot himself.
Various authors have speculated on reasons why he might have killed himself, and one author, Frank Bush, claimed to have been a descendant of a secret marriage between Alfred and Mabel Fitzgerald, granddaughter of the 4th Duke of Leinster, and claimed that friction between Alfred and his family over the “secret marriage” was the cause of the suicide. Despite the lack of documentary evidence, and the lack of contemporary reference, other authors have repeated Bush’s assertion that Alfred and Mabel married, including John van der Kiste and Bee Jordaan in Dearest Affie, and the assertion is repeated as fact in the official family history (Das Haus von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha).
According to theory, Alfred shot himself with a revolver while the rest of the family was gathered for the anniversary celebration. He survived and was looked after at Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha (Thuringia) for three days before being sent to theMartinnsbrunn Sanatorium in Gratsch near Meran in the County of Tyrol (Austria-Hungary, now Italy). Alfred died there at 4:15 pm on February 6, 1899, aged 24 years. He was buried in the ducal mausoleum of the Friedhof am Glockenberg [de], Coburg, Bavaria (southern Germany).
Later in 1899 Alfred’s uncle the Duke of Connaught and his son Prince Arthur of Connaught renounced their succession rights to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. As a result, his first cousin Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany, became heir presumptive.