Birthday: August 26, 1819
Nationality: British, German
Emperors & Kings
Died At Age: 42
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Prince Albert, Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel
Born Country: Germany
Born in: Schloss Rosenau, Coburg, Rödental, Germany
Famous as: Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Husband of Queen Victoria
Spouse/Ex-: Queen of the United Kingdom (m. 1840), Queen Victoria, Victoria
father: Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
mother: Princess Louise of Saxe Gotha Altenburg, Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
siblings: Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Ernest II
children: Alfred, Alfred - Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duchess of Argyll, Duke of Albany, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Edward VII, Prince Arthur, Prince Arthur - Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, Prince Leopold, Prince Leopold - Duke of Albany, Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom, Princess Helena of the United Kingdom, Princess Louise, Princess Louise - Duchess of Argyll, Princess Royal, Victoria, Victoria - Princess Royal
Died on: December 14, 1861
place of death: Windsor Castle, Windsor, United Kingdom
education: University of Bonn
Prince Albert was the husband of Queen Victoria and the prince consort of the United Kingdom and Ireland. He was the queen’s trusted advisor and had a significant influence on his wife. Born as Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel to Ernest III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and his first wife, Albert had a difficult childhood which was marred by his parents’ troubled marriage and eventual divorce. His mother was exiled from the court and he probably never saw her again. In spite of all his familial problems, he was close to his elder brother and the boys supported each other through turbulent times. He grew up to be an intelligent and talented young man and studied at the ‘University of Bonn’ where he was tutored by philosopher Fichte and poet Schlegel. At the age of 20, he married his cousin, Queen Victoria, who had proposed marriage to him. Victoria, also 20 at the time of the marriage, was the queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Albert was given the title ‘Prince Consort’ a few years after his marriage and he became the queen’s trusted advisor and took on the responsibilities of running the queen's household, estates, and office. The queen was left devastated by his premature death at the age of 42.
Childhood & Early Life
Prince Albert was born on 26 August 1819, in Schloss Rosenau, near Coburg, Germany, to Ernest III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and his first wife, Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.
Upon the death of his great-uncle Frederick IV, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg in 1825, Albert's father became the reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
His parents had a turbulent marriage and were eventually separated. His father divorced his mother on the grounds of adultery and exiled her. Aged just seven at the time of his parents’ divorce, Albert probably never saw his mother again. He sought solace in the company of his elder brother, Ernest, with whom he shared a close bond.
As a young boy, he received private tuitions at home and was later enrolled at the ‘University of Bonn’ where he studied law, political economy, philosophy, and art history. A talented young man, Albert was also musically inclined and athletic.
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He married his cousin Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, on 10 February 1840, at the ‘Chapel Royal,’ ‘St James's Palace.’ Upon his marriage, he was formally titled ‘HRH Prince Albert,’ a title he would hold for the next 17 years before he would be formally granted the title ‘Prince Consort’ in 1857.
He started taking up public roles after marriage and became president of the ‘Society for the Extinction of Slavery.’ He was an abolitionist who disapproved of child labor.
He attempted to modernize the royal finances and by 1844 was successful in raising sufficient capital to purchase ‘Osborne House’ on the Isle of Wight as a private residence for his family, which was by now growing steadily.
Prince Albert was elected as chancellor of the ‘University of Cambridge’ in 1847. As the chancellor of the university, he campaigned for reforms in the education sector. He was successful in advocating modern university curricula, which included subjects like modern history and natural sciences in addition to the traditional subjects like mathematics and classics.
He was a man of progressive and relatively liberal ideas. In addition to reforms in the education sector, he also helped his wife in implementing many welfare schemes for the citizens.
Prince Albert, along with Henry Cole, organized the ‘Great Exhibition of 1851,’ a ‘World's Fair’ event celebrating the British industrial advancement and culture. The fair was attended by numerous notable figures of the time, including Charles Darwin, Samuel Colt, Charlotte Bronte, and Lewis Carroll. Albert was also the president of the ‘Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.’
He was appointed to several offices, including the mastership of ‘Trinity House’ and the colonelcy of the ‘Grenadier Guards,’ which were left vacant by the death of the Duke of Wellington.
By March 1854, Britain and Russia were embroiled in the ‘Crimean War.’ Albert devised a master-plan for winning the war by laying siege to Sevastopol while starving Russia economically. Albert’s plan eventually became the Allied strategy after the Tsar decided to fight a defensive war.
Albert also promoted many public educational institutions. During meetings, he spoke of the need for better schooling.
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He guided his wife on national as well as international affairs. When the situation was getting out of control during the ‘Trent Affair’ in 1861, which threatened war between the United States and Britain, Albert intervened and helped end the affair peacefully through diplomatic response.
As the husband of Queen Victoria, he played the role of a close confidant and trusted advisor to the queen. A man of progressive ideals, he led many reforms in the education and welfare sectors. Also, he guided his wife in matters of national and international affairs.
Awards & Achievements
The British Empire bestowed upon him several honors, including ‘Knight of the Garter,’ ‘Great Master of the Order of the Bath,’ ‘Extra Knight of the Star of India,’ and ‘Knight Grand Cross of St Michael and St George.’
He also received foreign honors, including ‘Grand Cross of the Order of St. Stephen of Hungary,’ which was conferred by the Austrian Empire, and ‘Knight of the Golden Fleece’ from Spain.
Personal Life & Legacy
Albert and his first cousin Queen Victoria felt mutual affection for each other and Victoria proposed marriage to him on October 1839. The idea of their marriage had been in the minds of their family members for long. The couple tied the knot on 10 February 1840 at the ‘Chapel Royal,’ ‘St James's Palace.’
The couple had a happy marriage based on mutual love, trust, and respect. Their union produced nine children and 42 grandchildren.
He began to suffer from severe stomach cramps in 1859 and grew steadily weaker over the next couple of years. He was diagnosed with typhoid on 9 December 1861 and died a few days later on 14 December 1861. Even though his illness was diagnosed as typhoid fever at the time, modern medical examiners believe that he suffered from a more serious illness, such as cancer or Crohn’s disease.
The queen was grief-stricken at the death of her beloved husband and never recovered completely from this terrible loss.
Lake Albert in Africa and the city of Prince Albert in Saskatchewan, Canada are named in his honor. In 1864, ‘The Royal Society of Arts’ (RSA) instituted the ‘Albert Medal’ in his honor.