In my series “British or German” I discussed the Teck family and its connection to the British royal family. Today I want to again feature Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone. To be more precise, I want to focus on his German ancestry. He was born in London to the Duke and Duchess of Teck and despite his German Teck origins and the loss of that royal title in 1917, in my eyes he never ceased to be a dignified “British” Prince.
Even though any title he had prior to 1917 came from his German father, a morganatic scion of the House of Württemberg, I consider the Earl of Athlone a British Royal due to his being born in Britain and his many blood connections to both King George III and Queen Victoria and all of his many British Royal cousins via his mother. He certainly was considered a member of the British Royal Family. Despite my view that he was a British “prince” I don’t want to ignore his strong German Noble ancestors.
Before I dive into that topic I will remind my readers of some basic information about him: Major-General Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone (born HSH Prince Alexander of Teck; April 14, 1874 – January 16, 1957) and lived to the ripe old age of 82. He was the son of HSH Prince Francis, Duke of Teck and HRH Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge. The Earl was a British military commander and major-general who served as Governor-General of the Union of South Africa, the country’s fourth, and as Governor General of Canada, the 16th since Canadian Confederation.
Here is a quick summary of his British connections: His mother was HRH Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge, a first cousin to Queen Victoria and both ladies were the royal granddaughters of King George III of Great Britain. Queen Victoria was the daughter of HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (4th son of King George III) and Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge was the daughter of HRH Prince Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge (7th son of King George III). He was the brother of Queen Mary (Princess Mary of Teck), making him a brother-in-law of King George V.
The Earl of Athlone was married to his cousin HRH Princess Alice of Albany, daughter of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, 4th son of Queen Victoria and HRH The Prince Concort (Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha). The Earl’s wife was also a first cousin to King George V. Being a brother to Queen Mary and brother-in-law to King George V, the Earl of Athlone was therefore uncle to both King Edward VIII and King George VI, and a great-uncle to the present Queen, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. That’s enough to make your head spin!!
The Earl’s father was HSH Prince Francis, Duke of Teck (August 28, 1837-January 21, 1900). Francis was born Franz Paul Karl Ludwig Alexander on August 28,1837 in Esseg, Slavonia (now Osijek, Croatia). Francis’ mother was Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde (1812-1841) and she was married in 1835 to Duke Alexander of Württemberg (1804–1885), the son of Duke Ludwig of Württemberg. Since Duke Alexander and Claudine were not of the same social status the marriage was morganatic, his wife would not carry any of her husband’s titles and their children had no succession rights to the Kingdom of Württemberg. Francis’ mother was created Countess of Hohenstein in her own right by Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria shortly after her marriage. Therefore from his birth until 1863 he known as Count Francis von Hohenstein, a title he derived from his mother.