HRH The Prince Leopold.
Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, KG, KT, GCSI, GCMG,GCStJ (Leopold George Duncan Albert; April 7, 1853 – March 28, 1884) was the eighth child and youngest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Leopold was later created Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence, and Baron Arklow. He had haemophilia, which led to his death at the age of 30.
HRH Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany
In 1872, Prince Leopold entered Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied a variety of subjects and became president of the Oxford University Chess Club. On coming of age in 1874, he had been made a privy councillor and granted an annuity of £15,000. He left the university with an honorary doctorate in civil law (DCL) in 1876, then travelled in Europe. In 1880, he toured Canada and the United States with his sister, Princess Louise, whose husband John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne, was Governor General of Canada. He was a prominent patron of chess, and the London 1883 chess tournament was held under his patronage.
HRH The Prince Leopold.
Incapable of pursuing a military career because of his haemophilia and the need to avoid even minor injuries, Leopold instead became a patron of the arts and literature and served as an unofficial secretary to his mother. “Leopold was the favourite son, and through him her relations with the Government of the day were usually kept up.” Later he pursued vice-regal appointments in Canada and the Colony of Victoria, but his mother refused to appoint him, to his great unhappiness.
Prince Leopold was an active Freemason, being initiated in the Apollo University Lodge, Oxford, whilst resident at Christ Church. He was proposed for membership by his brother, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who was at the time the Worshipful Master of the Lodge, and was initiated in a joint ceremony with Robert Hawthorne Collins, his friend and tutor, who later became Comptroller of his Household. He served as Master of the Lodge from 1876-1877, and was later the Provincial Grand Master for Oxfordshire, still holding that office at the time of his death.
Duke of Albany
On May 24, 1881 Queen Victoria created Prince Leopold Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence and Baron Arklow.
Her Serene Highness Princess Helena of Waldeck-Pyrmont.
Prince Leopold, stifled by the desire of his mother, Queen Victoria, to keep him at home, saw marriage as his only hope of independence. Due to his haemophilia, he had difficulty finding a wife. Heiress Daisy Maynard was one of the women he considered as a possible bride. He was acquainted with Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford for whom Lewis Carroll wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and was godfather of Alice’s second son, who was named after him.
Leopold also considered his second cousin Princess Frederica of Hanover for a bride; they instead became lifelong friends and confidantes. Other aristocratic women he pursued included Victoria of Baden, Princess Stéphanie of Belgium, Princess Elisabeth of Hesse-Kassel, and Princess Karoline Mathilde of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenbur. Leopold was very fond of Mary Baring, daughter of Lord Ashburton, but, though she was very fond of him too, at 19, she felt she was too young to marry.
THR The Duke and Duchess of Albany.
After rejection from these women, Victoria stepped in to bar what she saw as unsuitable possibilities. Insisting that the children of British monarchs should marry into other reigning Protestant families, Victoria suggested a meeting with Princess Helena Friederike, the daughter of Georg Viktor, reigning Prince of Waldeck-Pyrmont, one of whose daughters had already married King William III of the Netherlands. On April 27, 1882, Leopold and Helena were married, at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, and his income was raised by parliament to £25,000. Leopold and Helena enjoyed a happy (although brief) marriage. In 1883, Leopold became a father when his wife gave birth to a daughter, Alice.
Illness and death
Prince Leopold had haemophilia, diagnosed in childhood and in early years had various physicians in permanent attendance, including Arnold Royle and John Wickham Legg. In February 1884, Leopold went to Cannes on doctor’s orders: joint pain is a common symptom of haemophilia and the winter climate in the United Kingdom was always difficult for him. His wife, pregnant at the time, stayed at home but urged him to go. On March 27, at his Cannes residence, the ‘Villa Nevada’, he slipped and fell, injuring his knee and hitting his head. He died in the early hours of the next morning, apparently from a cerebral haemorrhage. He was buried in the Albert Memorial Chapel at Windsor. The court observed official mourning from 30 March 30, 1884 to May 11, 1884. His posthumous son, Prince Charles Edward, succeeded him as 2nd Duke of Albany upon birth four months later.
HRH The Duke of Albany