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Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha : biography

19 July 1884 - 6 March 1954

Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Leopold Charles Edward George Albert; ; 19 July 1884 – 6 March 1954), was the fourth and last reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (German: Herzog von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha), two duchies in Germany (from 30 July 1900 to 14 November 1918), and the head of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from 1900 until his death in 1954. A male-line grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, he was also until 1919 a Prince of the United Kingdom and held the British title of Duke of Albany.

The Duke (German: Herzog) was a controversial figure in the United Kingdom due to his status as Sovereign Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, part of the German Empire, during World War I. He was deprived of his British peerages, his title of Prince and Royal Highness and his British honours in 1919. In 1918, he was forced to abdicate his ducal throne. He later joined the German Nazi Party, and served in a number of positions in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, including as President of the German Red Cross.

He is the maternal grandfather of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and the younger brother of Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone.


Name Birth Death Marriages
Johann Leopold, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 2 August1906 4 May1972 (1) unequally, renouncing his rights to the headship of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha), 9 March 1932, Baroness Feodora von der Horst; divorced 1962; had issue(2), 5 May 1963, Maria Theresia Reindl; no issue
Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 18 January1908 28 November1972 20 October 1932, Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden, Duke of Västerbotten; had issue, Princess Margaretha, Princess Birgitta, Princess Désirée, Princess Christina and King Carl XVI Gustaf
Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 24 August1909 26 November1943
Princess Caroline Mathilde of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 22 June1912 5 September1983 (1), 14 December 1931, Friedrich Wolfgang Otto, Count of Castell-Rüdenhausen; divorced 2 May 1938; had issue(2), 22 June 1938, Captain Max Schnirring; he died 1944; had issue(3), 23 December 1946, Karl Andree; divorced 27 December 1947; no issue
Friedrich Josias, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 29 November1918 23 January1998 (1), 25 January 1942, Countess Viktoria-Luise of Solms-Baruth; divorced 19 September 1947; had issue(2), 14 February 1948, Denyse Henrietta de Muralt; divorced 17 September 1964; had issue(3), 30 October 1964, Katrin Bremme; no issue

In the media

On 2 June 2008, British Channel 4 aired an hour-length documentary about Charles Edward called Hitler's Favorite Royal, including re-coloured original footage and photos from all stages of his private and public life, his troubled conversion to the National-Socialist regime and other aspects. Various international historians commented on the events and issues revolving around his life, reminding the public of his existence and reviving public debate. 3 July 2008 Link accessed 3/06/08 The programme contained a number of inaccuracies, for example describing Charles Edward as Queen Victoria's youngest grandson, which he was not.

World War II

Although Charles Edward was too old for active service during World War II, his three sons served in the Wehrmacht. His second son, Hubertus, was killed in action in 1943 on the eastern front in a plane crash.

When World War II ended, the American Military Government in Bavaria, under the command of General George S. Patton, placed Charles Edward under house arrest at his main royal residence, the vast Veste Coburg, because of his Nazi sympathies. He was later imprisoned with other Nazi officials. His sister, Princess Alice, learning of his incarceration, came to Germany with her husband, Major-General The Earl of Athlone (the former Governor General of Canada), to plead for his release with his American captors. They dined with the American generals holding her brother, who declined to release him.

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Living octopus

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