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Princess Alexandra of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Alexandra Louise Olga Victoria; September 1, 1878 – April 16, 1942).


Princess Alexandra was born on September 1, 1878 at Rosenau Castle, Coburg. Her father was Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Her mother was Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia, a daughter of Alexander II of Russia and Marie of Hesse and by Rhine. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom as well as of Emperor Alexander II of Russia.

Nicknamed ‘Sandra’ by her family, Alexandra spent her childhood first in England and between 1886 and 1889 in Malta, where her father was serving with the British Royal Navy. In 1889 the family moved to Coburg, Germany since her father, Alfred, was the heir apparent to the duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

In 1893, her great-uncle, Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (brother of her paternal grandfather, Prince Albert) died without issue. Since Albert was dead, and her uncle, The Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII) had renounced his claim to the ducal throne of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the vacant duchy fell to Alexandra’s father, the Duke of Edinburgh. Thus, Princess Alexandra was both a British princess and a Princess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. She was a bridesmaid at the 1885 wedding of Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter The Princess Beatrice to Prince Henry of Battenberg.

She was a bridesmaid at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York on 6 July 1893. Throughout her life, Alexandra was usually overshadowed by her two eldest sisters, Marie and Victoria Melita. Alexandra, was considered by some individuals as being less beautiful and more subdued than her sisters, was plain, placid and not as brilliant. This author personally disagrees with that assessment.

Princess Alexandra with her three sisters. From left to right, Princess Beatrice, Princess Victoria Melita, Princess Alexandra, and Queen Marie of Romania.

During Alexandra’s formative years, her father, occupied with his career in the Navy and later as a ruler in Coburg, paid little attention to his family. It was Alexandra’s mother who was the domineering presence in their children’s life. The duchess believed in marrying her daughters young, before they began to think for themselves.

At the end of 1895, she arranged Alexandra’s engagement to Ernst II, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (September 16, 1863 – December 11, 1950). Alexandra’s grandmother, Queen Victoria, complained that she was too young. Alexandra’s father objected to the status of his future son-in-law. The House of Hohenlohe-Lagenburg was mediatized – a formerly ruling family who had ceded their sovereign rights to others while (in theory) retaining their equal birth.

It was not considered a brilliant match, but they were also related. Ernst was a grandson of Princess Feodora of Leiningen, Queen Victoria’s half-sister. The wedding took place on April 20, 1896 in Coburg, Germany. Together, they had five children.

Princess Alexandra of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Ernst II, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

Alexandra lived for the rest of her life in Germany. At the death of her father in 1900, Alexandra’s husband was appointed regent of the duchy of Saxe-Coburg during the minority of the new Duke, Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany who was her first cousin. Alexandra’s only brother, Alfred, had died in 1899. During World War I, she worked as a Red Cross nurse. In February 1916 her eldest daughter was married at Coburg to Prince Friedrich of Gluckburg and she became a grandmother when the couple’s first child, Prince Hans of Glucksburg was born in May 1917. On her thirty-fifth wedding anniversary in April 1931, her son Gottfried married Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark, the eldest child and daughter of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. She was the first great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria, and the eldest sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

In the years preceding World War II, Alexandra was an early supporter of the Nazi Party, which she joined on May 1, 1937, together with several of her children. She died in Schwäbisch Hall, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany in 1942.