03 November 2017

Royal Baby #3: The Brits

Following up on my early post about today's third-born royal children, and in celebration of the expected third child of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the third-born children of Britain's kings and queens since the Hanoverians took over in 1714.

Copyright Hertford Town Council;
via Wikimedia Commons
The Princess Amelia (1711-1786)
King George I had only two children, so we will start with the offspring of his son, King George II, who had eight children with his wife Caroline (not including miscarriages and stillbirths). Their first-born Frederick Prince of Wales lived long enough to father a large family of his own but not long enough to inherit the throne. Second-born Anne was made Princess Royal and married the Prince of Orange. Today's King of the Netherlands is descended from her.  But third-born Princess Amelia never married although at least one marriage was considered that would have made her Queen of Prussia. She was just a toddler when her grandfather became King and she moved with her parents from Germany to Britain. She was a sickly child who cause her mother great anxiety. So much so that Caroline had her and younger sister Caroline immunized against smallpox, a very controversial action at that time, but one that seems to have been effective. She grew into a healthy woman who enjoyed riding and hunting. She was admired for her simple honesty and her lack of royal vanity. She eventually gained her own property at Gunnersbury Estate in Middlesex as well as Cavendish Square in London. Rumors exist that she had an illegitimate child and this may have partly inspired her generous support of orphans. However, she was generally lauded for her charitable endeavors.

Edward Duke of York (1738-1767)
Although his father Frederick Prince of Wales never became king, third-born Prince Edward of Wales was given the title Duke of York, usually reserved for the second son of the monarch. His older brother became King George III and his older sister Augusta married the Duke of Brunswick. He had six younger siblings. Just nine months younger than brother George, Edward and he were raised and educated together closely. But Edward did not inherit George's quiet, steady character. He was the bon vivant that everyone wanted at their party. He served in the navy and was made a vice admiral by the time he was 23. Just our years later, he became ill while traveling in the Mediterranean. The Prince of Monaco offered him a place to recuperate but he did not recover. He was only 28 when he died. Today, 250 years later, his death chamber in Monaco's princely palace is still called the York Room in his memory.

King William IV (1765-1837)
The third of King George III's 15 children, William was styled as the Duke of Clarence for most of his life. Like his Uncle Edward above, he built a career in the navy and eventually earned the nickname, "Sailor King." Like most of his brothers, he had no interest in respectable marriage, but he did build a home with 10 children with his mistress, actress Dorothy Jordan (see my post about her). All that changed when his oldest brother's only child died in 1817. All of the sudden, the 52-year-old prince needed a legitimate family to carry on the dynasty. He married 25-year-old Adelaide of Saxe-Meinengen, who surprisingly welcomed his illegitimate brood into her home. The couple had two daughters, but sadly they both died as infants. William's second brother Frederick Duke of York predeceased their oldest brother King George IV, so William became king upon his death in 1830. His seven-year reign was brief but jam-packed with many social reforms. He was succeeded by his niece Queen Victoria, daughter of the fourth brother (and fifth child) Edward Duke of Kent.

By John Jabez Edwin Mayal
via Wikimedia Commons
Alice Grand Duchess of Hesse Darmstadt (1843-1878)
Queen Victoria's third child Princess Alice had a sweet and loving nature. It was she who nursed her father Prince Albert on his deathbed. After marrying Louis IV of Hesse Darmstadt, she nursed the poor and wounded soldiers and became a kind of disciple of Florence Nightingale. Unfortunately, she passed on the hemophilia gene to several of her seven offspring. Her son Friedrich died from the disease at age two after falling from a window. Her daughter Empress Alexandra of Russia famously passed it in to the Russian Tsarevich Alexis and her daughter Irene gave it to two of her three sons. Her daughter Victoria is the grandmother of Britain's Prince Philip. Besides baby Friedrich three more of her children died tragically: the youngest Marie died of diptheria at age four, while Alexandra and Elizabeth, who had both married Romanovs, were martyred in the Russian Revolution. Alice herself died at age 35, on the anniversary of her father's death, as a result of nursing little Marie and her other children through diptheria. You can read that story in my post, The Kiss of Death.

via Wikimedia Commons
Louise Princess Royal, Duchess of Fife (1867-1931)
The third child of King Edward VII was his first daughter, Louise, who therefore was granted the first-daughter title of Princess Royal. Her grandmother Queen Victoria has relaxed the rules about her royal descendants marrying only royals, so Louise was allowed to marry the British peer Alexander Earl of Fife, but he was given a bump up to become the 1st Duke of Fife. As a princess, however, she could not pass her royal status on to her two children. That changed when her father became king in 1901; his two Fife granddaughters were both raised to the status of Princess. Louise little family of four met with tragedy in late 1911 when they were shipwrecked in Egypt. Her husband died soon thereafter, having contracted pleurisy following the accident. Both of their girls were still in their teens. Louise led a relatively quiet widowhood, serving in the usual royal charitable roles and honorary military colonelcies. (Read about her daughter, Princess Maud of Fife.)

By Ernest Brooks
via Wikimedia Commons
Mary Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood (1897-1965)
The only daughter of King George V's six children, Mary arrived third. She never went to school. When World War I broke out, she was a teen at home alone with her older brothers away in the navy and the younger ones at school. (The youngest Prince John, lived in a secluded house at Sandringham due to his health.) Mary decided that she wanted to do something useful and came up with the idea of sending Christmas gifts to the servicemen and nurses. (Read more about that in my post, The Teenaged Princess & the Soldiers.) After the war, Mary married the nobleman George 7th Earl of Harewood and had two sons. She was a great supporter of the Girl Guides, the British Red Cross, and the Leeds Triennial Musical Festival.

Andrew Duke of York (1960-  )
Queen Elizabeth II's third-born is Prince Andrew, named for his paternal grandfather, Prince Andrew of Greece. He served a full career in the navy, including combat service in the Falklands War, and now serves as the United Kingdom's Representative for International Trade and Investment. Considered quite handsome, he has had a string of love affairs, sometimes notorious, but married at age 26 to Sarah Ferguson. Theyproduced two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, before they divorced in 1996. However, the couple continued to co-parent and remain close today more than 20 years after their divorce. Andrew has attracted many controversies, including unsavory friendships, sex abuse allegations, and accusations of misuse of his official roles. He is also semi-professional photographer, avid golfer, and equally enthusiastic skier.

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