Prince Adolphus-Frederick, Duke of Cambridge, (February 24, 1774 – July 8, 1850) was the tenth child and seventh son of the British king George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He held the title of Duke of Cambridge from 1801 until his death. He also served as Viceroy of Hanover on behalf of his brothers George IV and William IV.
Prince Adolphus-Frederick was born at Buckingham House, then known as the “Queen’s House”, in the City and Liberty of Westminster, now within Greater London. He was the son of King George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King of Hanover and his wife Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the youngest daughter of Duke Charles of Mecklenburg (1708–1752; known as “Prince of Mirow”) and of his wife Princess Elisabeth-Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen (1713–1761).
Prince Adolphus-Frederick, Duke of Cambridge
On March 24, 1774, the young prince was baptized in the Great Council Chamber at St James’s Palace by Frederick Cornwallis, Archbishop of Canterbury. His godparents were Prince Johann-Adolphus of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (his great-uncle, for whom the Earl of Hertford, Lord Chamberlain, stood proxy), Landgrave Charles of Hesse-Cassel his first cousin once removed, for whom the Earl of Jersey, Extra Lord of the Bedchamber, stood proxy) and Princess Wilhelmina of Orange (the wife of his first cousin once removed, for whom Elizabeth Howard, Dowager Countess of Effingham, former Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte, stood proxy).
He was tutored at home until summer 1786, when he was sent to the University of Göttingen in Germany, along with his brothers Prince Ernest (created Duke of Cumberland in 1799) and Prince Augustus (created Duke of Sussex in 1801).
Prince Adolphus-Frederick was made honorary Colonel-in-Chief of the Hanoverian Guard Foot Regiment 1789–1803, but his military training began in 1791, when he and Prince Ernest went to Hanover to study under the supervision of the Hanoverian commander Field Marshal Wilhelm von Freytag. He remained on Freytag’s staff during the Flanders Campaign in 1793. His first taste of action was at Famars on May 23.
He was wounded and captured at the Battle of Hondschoote 6 September, but was quickly rescued. As a Hanovarian General-Major, he commanded a Hessian brigade under his paternal great-uncle, General Johann Ludwig von Wallmoden-Gimborn in Autumn 1794, then commanded the Hanovarian Guards during the retreat through Holland. Remaining in Germany, he commanded a brigade of the Corps of Observation from 22 October 1796 until 12 January 1798.
In 1803, he was appointed as commander-in-chief of the newly founded King’s German Legion, and in 1813, he became field marshal. George III appointed Prince Adolphus a Knight of the Garter on June 2, 1776, and created him Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Tipperary, and Baron Culloden on November 24, 1801.
The Duke served as colonel-in-chief of the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards (Coldstream Guards after 1855) from September 1805, and as colonel-in-chief of the 60th (The Duke of York’s Own Rifle Corps) Regiment of Foot from January 1824. After the collapse of Napoleon’s empire, he was Military Governor of Hanover from November 4, 1813 – October 24, 1816, then Governor General of Hanover from October 24, 1816 – June 20, 1837 (viceroy from February 22, 1831). He was made Field Marshal 26 November 1813. While he was Viceroy, the Duke became patron of the Cambridge-Dragoner (“Cambridge Dragoons”) Regiment of the Hanoverian army. This regiment was stationed in Celle, and their barracks, the Cambridge-Dragoner Kaserne, were used by the Bundeswehr until 1995. The “March of the Hannoversches Cambridge-Dragoner-Regiment” is part of the Bundeswehr’s traditional music repertoire.
After the death of Princess Charlotte of Wales in 1817, the Duke was set the task of finding a bride for his eldest unmarried brother, the Duke of Clarence (later William IV), in the hope of securing heirs to the throne—Charlotte had been the only legitimate grandchild of George III, despite the fact that the King had twelve surviving children. After several false starts, the Duke of Clarence settled on Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. The way was cleared for the Duke of Cambridge to find a bride for himself.
Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel
The Duke of Cambridge was married first at Cassel, Hesse on May 7, and then at Buckingham Palace on June 1, 1818 to his second cousin Princess and Landgravine Augusta of Hesse-Cassel, (July 24, 1797 – April 6, 1889), third daughter of Landgrave Friedrich of Hesse-Cassel and his wife, Princess Caroline of Nassau-Usingen.
Augusta of Hesse-Cassel was born at Rumpenheim Castle, Offenbach am Main, Hesse. Through her father, she was a great-granddaughter of George II of Great Britain, her grandfather having married George II’s daughter Mary. Her father’s older brother was Landgrave Wilhelm IX of Hesse-Cassel. In 1803, her uncle’s title was raised to the dignity of Imperial Elector of Hesse, and became Elector Wilhelm I of Hesse (the territorial distinction of Cassel was dropped) whereby the entire Cassel branch of the Hesse dynasty gained an upward notch in hierarchy.
1. Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge, (1819-1904)
illegally married, 1847, Sarah Louisa Fairbrother; had issue
2. Princess Augusta of Cambridge (1822-1916)
married, 1843, Friedrich-Wilhelm, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; had issue
3. Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge (1833-1897)
married, 1866, Francis, Duke of Teck; had issue, including Mary of Teck, wife of George V of the United Kingdom.
From 1816 to 1837, the Duke of Cambridge served as viceroy of the Kingdom of Hanover on behalf of his elder brothers, George IV and later William IV. When his niece succeeded to the British throne on June 20, 1837 as Queen Victoria, the 123-year union of the crowns of the United Kingdom and Hanover ended, due to Hanover being under Salic Law. The Duke of Cumberland became King of Hanover and the Duke of Cambridge returned to Britain.
The Duke of Cambridge died on July 8, 1850 at Cambridge House, Piccadilly, London, at the age 76 and was buried at St Anne’s Church, Kew. His remains were later removed to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. His only son, Prince George, succeeded to his peerages.
Through his granddaughter, Mary of Teck, wife of George V of the United Kingdom, Adolphus-Frederick, Duke of Cambridge is the Great-great-great-great grandfather of Prince William, the current Duke of Cambridge.