1917 Titles Deprivation Ac, Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Duke Alfred of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Duke Charles Edward of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, World War I, World War ii
Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (December 31, 1885 – October 3, 1970) was Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as the wife of Duke Charles Edward from their marriage on October 11, 1905 until his abdication on November 14, 1918.
Victoria Adelaide is the maternal grandmother of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. She was a niece of German Empress Augusta Victoria, wife of Emperor Wilhelm II and born a Princess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg.
Princess Victoria Adelaide was born on December 31, 1885 at Castle Grünholz, Thumby, Schleswig-Holstein, Prussia as the eldest daughter of Frederick Ferdinand, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and his wife Princess Caroline Mathilde of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg.
Her father was the eldest son of Friedrich, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and a nephew of King Christian IX of Denmark. One month before the birth of Victoria Adelaide, he had succeeded to the headship of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and the title of duke upon the death of his father on 27 November 1885.
Wilhelm II chose Princess Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein as the bride of Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha who was her first cousin.
They married on October 11, 1905, at Glücksburg Castle, Schleswig. Charles Edward was the only son of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany by his wife Princess Helena of Waldeck and a grandson of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.
Duke Ernst II, ruled the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha from 1844 until his own death in 1893. Because he had died childless, the throne of the two duchies would have passed to his late brother Prince Albert’s male descendants.
But Prince Albert was the husband of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and his eldest son, Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, (future King Edward VII) was already her heir apparent. Besides, he was prohibited by the Constitutions of both duchies from inheriting the throne if there were other eligible male heirs. But Albert Edward had already renounced his claim in favour of his next brother, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. So Alfred became the next Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
In 1899, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, urged by Emperor Wilhelm II, decided on how to deal with the succession of Duke Alfred, who was in ill health. His only son, Hereditary Prince Alfred (“Young Affie”) of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, had died by suicide in February 1899.
The next in line to the Ducal throne was Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, the Queen’s third son, was serving in the British army. This caused Emperor Wilhelm II to oppose him as a ruling prince of Germany. His son, Prince Arthur of Connaught, had been at Eton with Charles Edward.
Emperor Wilhelm II demanded a German education for the boy, but this was unacceptable to the Duke of Connaught. Thus young Arthur also renounced his claims to the Duchy. Next in line was Charles Edward, who consequently inherited the Ducal throne of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha at the age of sixteen when his uncle Alfred died at the age of 55 in July 1900.
Princess Victoria Adelaide was described as the leading part in the marriage and the Duke would initially come to her for advice. She and Charles Edward had five children.
The family mainly spoke English at home, though the children learnt to speak German fluently. Hubertus, Charles Edward’s second son, was the favourite child. The children lived in fear of their father, who ran his family “like a military unit”. Charles Edward’s younger daughter, Princess Caroline Mathilde, claimed that her father had sexually abused her. The allegation was backed by one of her brothers.
In 1915, King George V, his cousin, ordered his name removed from the register of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. In 1917, a law change in Coburg effectively banned any of Charles Edward’s British relatives from succeeding him and that same year the Gotha G.V bomber which had been built in Gotha was used to attack London. In Britain, he was denounced as a traitor. The Titles Deprivation Act 1917 issued by King George V removed his British titles.
In 1918, the Duke was forced to abdicate his ducal throne, following the end of World War I, and he and his family became private citizens.
Charles Edward was an early and fervent supporter of Adolf Hitler. Victoria Adelaide initially shared her husband’s enthusiasm and patriotism but she came to loathe Hitler and the Nazi Party following the Nazi seizure of power. She defied her husband by supporting the German Evangelical Church Confederation against the antisemitic German Christians.
After World War II, the couple fled to Austria (where Schloss Greinburg an der Donau had been a Saxe-Coburg property since 1822, and remains such) following the seizure of their properties in East Germany by the Soviet Union. Duchess Victoria Adelaide of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha died at Schloss Greinburg (Grein, Austria) at the age of 84 on October 3, 1970 and was buried beside her husband (Charles Edward died March 6, 1954) at Schloss Callenberg, Coburg, October 8 of that year.