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John Van der Kiste

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Dearest Affie: Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria's Second Son
by John Van der Kiste  Bee Jordaan 

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Books by John Van der Kiste
· William and Mary
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· George V's Children
· Crowns in a Changing World: The British and European Monarchies 1901-36
· Princess Victoria Melita, Grand Duchess Cyril of Russia
                >> View all

Category: 

Biography

Publisher:  Alan Sutton ISBN-10:  0750908564
Pages: 

202

Copyright:  Oct 1 1984

A biography of Queen Victoria's second son, who was Duke of Edinburgh, Admiral of the Fleet, and later Duke of Saxe-Coburg Gotha. [Note - first published 1984 in hardback; reissued 1995 in paperback, plus a hardback limited edition of 100 copies by Royalty Digest/Piccadilly Rare Books, with different illustrations]

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Queen Victoria's second son 'Affie' (1844-1900) was a gifted and capable officer in the Royal Navy, whose years of service culminated in promotion to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet, whose interest in stamps led to the foundation of the Royal Philatelic Collection, and who was noted for his love and patronage of music. He also led a life of adventure rivalled by few other European princes of his time.

At the age of 18 he was elected King of Greece, though unable to accept the crown for political reasons. Five years later, during a voyage round the world and tour of Australia, he was shot and wounded by an Irish republican sympathizer - the closest any of Queen Victoria's children came to being assassinated. His marriage in 1874 to Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, daughter of Tsar Alexander II, was a controversial move, especially when Anglo-Russian differences almost led to war between both nations, and he might easily have had to serve against his wife's country. His years of naval service culminated in being appointed Commander-in-Chief, Devonport, and promotion to Admiral of the Fleet. Shortly afterwards, his succession to the ancestral Duchy of Saxe-Coburg Gotha in 1892 led to questions about his English loyalties in an age when the political climate of imperial Germany was becoming increasingly hostile to England.

In this first biography of a curiously-neglected prince, the authors have made extensive use of unpublished archives from England, Germany and South Africa. They have also thrown new light on the hitherto-unexplained circumstances of the sudden death of the Duke's only son and heir.


Excerpt

"He has a great inclination for natural history and mechanics and all that belongs to it. We gave him an Engineering officer as instructor, hoping to interest him in this branch, but his love for the Blue Jackets always turned up again, and always with greater force. With the remarkable perseverance this child possesses, it is not to be expected that he will give up the idea easily. An example of his perseverance is his violin, which he learnt to play secretly, in his free time, wishing to surprise us. He will not give it up any more. He gives every free moment to his mechanical constructions."

Prince Albert on Prince Alfred as a boy to his brother Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, c.1857




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