Prince Albert by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1842
August 16, 2019 marks the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, husband of Britain’s Queen Victoria. Prince Albert was born at Schloss Rosenau not far from Coburg. He was the younger son of Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Louise of Saxe-Coburg-Altenburg. On February 10, 1840, Prince Albert married at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace in London, his cousin, Queen Victoria; both were twenty years old.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had a happy marriage and were blessed with nine children: Victoria (1840-1901), who became German Empress and was the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II; King Edward VII (1841-1910); Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse (1843-1878); Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (1844-1900); Helena, Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein (1846-1923); Louise, Duchess of Argyll (1848-1939); Arthur, Duke of Connaught (1850-1942); Leopold, Duke of Albany (1853-1884); and Beatrice, Princess Henry of Battenberg (1857-1944).
An intellectual with wide-ranging interests encompassing the arts and science, Prince Albert was a devoted husband, father, and consort, as well as adviser to Queen Victoria. In 1851, the Great Exhibition, which celebrated Great Britain’s industrial achievements as well as the British Empire, was formally opened by Queen Victoria in the specially built Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. The Prince had been instrumental in the creation of the Great Exhibition which proved a huge success. The profits from the Great Exhibition were used towards the creation of the series of museums found today in London’s South Kensington. Albert was created Prince Consort in 1857.
Prince Albert’s death on December 14, 1861 was a devastating blow to Queen Victoria. She retreated from public for a time and was known as the ‘widow of Windsor.’ She outlived Prince Albert by many years, dying in 1901. A large and ornate remembrance to the Prince, the Albert Memorial, can be seen today in London’s Kensington Gardens.
The Albert Memorial, Kensington Gardens
Illustration acknowledgements: Portrait of Prince Albert: Franz Xaver Winterhalter artist QS:P170,Q168659, Prince Albert - Franz Xaver Winterhalter 1842, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons Albert Memorial: Architect: Sir George Gilbert Scott (English, 1811-1878), Albertmemorial, CC BY 2.0