Birthday: August 16, 1763
Died At Age: 63
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Frederick Augustus
Born Country: England
Born in: St James's Palace, London, England
Famous as: Duke of York and Albany
Died on: January 5, 1827
place of death: London, England
City: London, England
Diseases & Disabilities: Cardiovascular Disease
Cause of Death: Dropsy
awards: Knight Grand Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of St. Alexander Nevsky
Order of St. Andrew
Who was Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany?
Prince Frederick was the Duke of York and Albany and the second son of George III, King of the United Kingdom and Hanover. He was a soldier in the British army and was also the Prince Bishop of Osnabrück in the Holy Roman Empire. Following his father's death and until his own demise, he was the heir to the throne but never assumed the role as he died before his older brother. He led the life of an army man from an early age. Even though he was inexperienced in the field, he was appointed in high military posts. He eventually led several unsuccessful campaigns in the War of the First Coalition after the French Revolution. After his unsuccessful feats, he realized the need for restructuring the British army and initiated structural reforms within the military. He has been recognized as the one to introduce significant changes that revived the state of the British military that defeated Napoleon's shock troops. He also established the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, which gave merit-based training to the infantry and cavalry officers.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on 16 August 1763, at St. James's Palace, London, Prince Frederick was the second son of King George III, the monarch of Britain and Queen Charlotte, the Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He had an older brother, George IV, even though Frederick remained the king's favorite son.
On 14 September 1763, he was christened at St James' by Thomas Secker, the Archbishop of Canterbury. His great uncle the Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, uncle the Duke of York and great-aunt Princess Amelia were pronounced as his godparents.
After the death of Clemens August of Bavaria when he was only an infant, he was made the Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück on 27 February 1764.
The Peace of Westphalia required that Osnabrück be governed by Catholic and Protestant rulers alternately, and the Protestant bishops were to be chosen from the House of Brunswick-Lüneburg.
Being the Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück had its benefits, and he earned a sizeable income until it was integrated with Hanover in 1803.
On 30 December 1767, he was ordained as a Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath and as a Knight of the Order of the Garter on 19 June 1771.
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Prince Fredrick was to have a military career and his father, King George III, appointed him as a colonel on 4 November 1780.
He was enrolled at the University of Göttingen in Hanover as were his brothers, Prince Edward, Prince Ernest, Prince Augustus, and Prince Adolphus, and lived in Hanover from 1781 to 1787.
On 26 March 1782, he was promoted as the colonel of the 2nd Horse Grenadier Guards and then a major-general on 20 November 1782.
On 27 October 1784, he was elevated to a lieutenant general and also the colonel of the Coldstream Guards on 28 October 1784.
On 27 November 1784, he was appointed as the Duke of York and Albany, Earl of Ulster, and was also retained as a part of the Privy Council.
He returned to Britain, and on 15 December 1788, he became a member of the House of Lords.
On 12 April 1793, Prince Frederick was made the full general. He oversaw the British troops of Coburg's army and headed to Flanders to participate and invade France.
Under his command, the British military fought valiantly under challenging circumstances. He also won several significant engagements with the enemy like the Siege of Valenciennes in July 1793. However, in September 1793, he was defeated in the Battle of Hondschoote.
In April 1794, he led a successful campaign in the Battle of Beaumont and also at the Battle of Willems; however, his triumphs were short-lived as he lost in the battle of Tourcoing and his armies were removed thorough Bremen by April 1795.
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On 18 February 1795, George III elevated Prince Frederick to the position of a field marshal when he returned to Britain.
King George promoted him to the commander-in-chief on 3 April 1795. He succeeded Lord Amherst in the position even though he did not exercise his powers associated with the job for the following three years. He was made the colonel of the 60th Regiment of Foot on 19 August 1797.
In August 1799, he was sent on another expedition during the Russian-Anglo invasion of Holland. He was conferred with the titular honor of captain-general on 7 September 1799.
During the engagement in Den Helder, Sir Ralph Abercromby and Admiral Sir Charles Mitchell, who spearheaded the attack, had already captured several Dutch warships. After Prince Frederick arrived with his troop, tragedy struck the army and resources were lost.
The Convention of Alkmaar was signed on 17 October 1799 by Prince Fredrick, and the Russian-Anglo forces withdrew their futile invasion after releasing the prisoners.
Frederick saw a series of military misfortunes in 1799 because he was perceived as inefficient by his subordinates and the depleted British army. After his failed campaign, he was often mocked and ridiculed by his people.
His unsuccessful campaigns made him realize the weaknesses in the military and how it needed some significant reforms to ascertain future gains. As the commander-in-chief, he restructured the military and implemented changes and created the army that fought in the Peninsular War.
In 1803, he led the troops defending the United Kingdom against France's predetermined invasion. According to Sir John Fortescue, he did "more for the army than any one man has done for it in the whole of its history."
He also encouraged the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, to train future officers according to their merit and competencies to strengthen the army.
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On 14 September 1805, he was awarded the title 'Warden of Windsor Forest.'
On 25 March 1809, he stepped down from his position as commander-in-chief amid controversies related to his paramour, Mary Anne Clarke.
Family & Personal Life
On 29 September 1791, Prince Frederick married Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia, who was the daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia and Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Lüneburg. A ceremony was first held at Charlottenburg in Berlin and later at the Buckingham Palace on 23 November 1791.
Their marriage was not amicable and they soon parted ways. His wife lived in Oatlands until her death in 1820.
Frederick lived in Oatlands near Weybridge, Surrey, but barely remained at home and spent most of his time at Horse Guards (the British army headquarters). He also spent a lot of his time gambling on cards and racehorses, which led him to be in perpetual debt.
He was also embroiled in a scandal associated with his mistress Mary Anne Clarke. She was suspected of illegally selling commissions with the help of Frederick. A deciding committee was held at the House of Commons, where Fredrick was eventually acquitted.
Even though he was acquitted, he resigned from his post. However, after two years, they discovered that Clarke was paid by Fredrick's accuser, Gwyllym Wardle, and he was reappointed as the commander-in-chief by the price regent on 29 May 1811.
His niece, Princess Charlotte of Wales, died suddenly in 1817, making Frederick second in line to succeed the throne. In 1820, he was made the heir presumptive following his father's death.
Frederick suffered from dropsy and cardiovascular disease and died on 5 January 1827, at the age of 63, at Duke of Rutland's home in London. On 20 January 1827, he was buried at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.