Alfred Ernest Albert, Third Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

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Admiral of the Fleet HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS Alfred Ernest Albert, Third Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, K.G., K.T., K.P., G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E., G.C.V.O., Royal Navy (6 August, 1844 – 30 July, 1900) was an officer of the Royal Navy.

Life & Career

Unless otherwise stated this article is sourced from Prince Alfred's service records.

Prince Alfred was born at Windsor on 6 August, 1844, the second son and fourth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Albert, writing to his brother in 1857, wrote, "As regards his wish to enter the navy. This is a passion which we, as his parents, believe not to have the right to subdue. It is certainly not right to break the spontaneous wish of a young spirit, yet we do what we can, not to encourage the wish."[1] John Van der Kiste has claimed that "at fourteen—the earliest possible age—he joined the navy". This is incorrect as the age of entry was 13 to 15, raised from 12 to 14 in May, 1857.[2]

The Prince was specially examined at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth in July 1858. The Professor of the College, Thomas J. Main, wrote to the Admiralty on 31 July that:

The papers were by direction of H R Highness the Prince Consort [Prince Albert] of a more searching character than those usually set for Naval Cadets and His Royal Highness has acquitted himself remarkably well, proving not only that he has good natural abilities but that he taken every advantage afforded him by the careful training of those who have had the charge of his education.[3]

The only part of the examination Main was not satisfied with was "writing by dictation" and a "defect in English spelling", which he put down to "the application of His Royal Highness to Foreign Languages".[4]

Alfred was accordingly appointed as a Naval Cadet to the frigate Euryalus on 31 August, 1858. He was rated Midshipman on 28 February, 1860, and appointed to the St. George on 8 January, 1861. On 24 February, 1863, he passed his examinations for the rank of Lieutenant (specially promoted to that rank) and appointed to the screw corvette Raccoon from the same date. He was promoted to the rank of Captain on 23 February, 1866, in accordance with an Order in Council which allowed him to be promoted to that rank without having first attained the rank of Commander. On 22 January, 1867, he was appointed in command of frigate Galatea. He paid her off on 2 June, 1871.

Five years later he was appointed in command of the central battery ironclad Sultan on 25 February, 1876. On 9 May, 1878 he took command of the armoured frigate Black Prince, and paid her off on 23 December.

Flag Rank

Prince Alfred was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral on 30 December, 1878. On 21 November, 1879, he was appointed Admiral Superintendent of Naval Reserves, with his flag in Penelope. The Queen appointed him a Knight of Saint Patrick (K.P.) on 14 May, 1880. He transferred his flag to Hercules on 1 May, 1881, and was superseded as Admiral Superintendent on 23 November, 1882. On 30 November he was promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral, and appointed Honorary Colonel of the Royal Marines on 9 December.[5]

He was appointed in command of the Channel Squadron on 3 December, 1883, hoisting his flag in Minotaur. He hauled down his flag on 3 December, 1884.

Prince Alfred was appointed Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean on 5 February, 1886, with the rank of Acting Admiral, assuming command on 5 March upon hoisting his flag in Temeraire. He was promoted to the rank of Admiral on 18 October, 1887, additional of that rank under the provisions of the Order in Council of 30 November, 1882.[6] He struck his flag at Portsmouth on 29 April, 1889.

He was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth on 4 August, 1890, in succession to Sir William M. Dowell. He was superseded on 2 June, 1893, and promoted to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet on 3 June. On 22 August his uncle Ernest died and Alfred succeeded him as reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Bibliography

  • "The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha" (News). The Times. Wednesday, 1 August, 1900. Issue 36209, col A, p. 8.
  • "The Duke's Naval Career" (News). The Times. Wednesday, 1 August, 1900. Issue 36209, col C, p. 8.
  • Bolitho, Hector (1933). The Prince Consort and his Brother: Two Hundred New Letters. London: Cobden-Sanderson.
  • Kiste, John Van der. "Alfred, Prince, duke of Edinburgh (1844–1900), duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, naval officer, and son of Queen Victoria." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 7 Aug. 2021. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-346.

Service Records

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Anthony H. Hoskins
Captain of H.M.S. Sultan
25 Feb, 1876[7] – 9 May, 1878[8]
Succeeded by
Edward H. Howard
Preceded by
Edward H. Howard
Captain of H.M.S. Black Prince
9 May, 1878[9] – 23 Dec, 1878[10]
Succeeded by
Harry W. Brent
Preceded by
Augustus Phillimore
Admiral Superintendent of Naval Reserves
21 Nov, 1879[11] – 23 Nov, 1882[12]
Succeeded by
Sir Anthony H. Hoskins
Preceded by
Sir William M. Dowell
Senior Officer in Command, Channel Squadron
3 Dec, 1883[13] – 3 Dec, 1884[14]
Succeeded by
Algernon F. R. de Horsey
Preceded by
The Rt. Hon. Lord John Hay
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Station
5 Feb, 1886[15] – 29 Apr, 1889[16]
Succeeded by
Sir Anthony H. Hoskins
Preceded by
Sir William M. Dowell
Commander in Chief, Plymouth Station
4 Aug, 1890[17][18] – 2 Jun, 1893[19]
Succeeded by
Sir Algernon McL. Lyons

Footnotes

  1. Bolitho. The Prince Consort and his Brother. p. 169.
  2. Circular, No. 288 of 23 February, 1857. The National Archives. ADM 7/890. For earlier regulations see The Navy List, Corrected to the 20th December, 1856. p. 224.
  3. Main to Secretary of the Admiralty. Copy of letter of 31 July, 1858. The National Archives. ADM 1/5698. Part 2.
  4. Ibid.
  5. The London Gazette. 21 December, 1882. Issue 25176. p. 6321.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 25749. p. 5653. 21 October, 1887.
  7. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36/25. ff. 18, 22.
  8. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36/25. ff. 18, 22.
  9. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36/25. ff. 18, 22.
  10. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36/25. ff. 18, 22.
  11. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36/25. ff. 18, 22.
  12. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36/25. ff. 18, 22.
  13. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36. f. 22.
  14. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36/25. ff. 18, 22.
  15. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36/25. ff. 18, 22.
  16. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36/25. ff. 18, 22.
  17. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36/25. ff. 18, 22.
  18. Clowes. The Royal Navy. Vol. VII. p. 86.
  19. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/36/25. ff. 18, 22.