Carl Eduard, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Carl Eduard von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (born Leopold Charles Edward George Albert on July, 19 1884 in Claremont House, Surrey, United Kingdom), is the current ruler of the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, one of the constituent states of the German Empire, since July, 30 1900, upon succeeding his uncle, Alfred. Grandson of Queen Victoria and former Duke of Albany, he decided to join the German side during the Weltkrieg, losing his British titles in 1919. He is first cousin to the King of England (in exile in Canada) George V, Queen Wilhelmina of Netherlands and German Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Charles Edward was born at Claremont House near Esher, Surrey, to Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, fourth son of Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort. and Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont. As his father died before his birth, Charles Edward succeeded to his titles immediately on his birth and was styled His Royal Highness The Duke of Albany. After becoming sick, he was privately baptised at Claremont on 4 August 1884, two weeks after his birth and later baptised publicly in Esher Parish Church on 4 December 1884 four months later. His uncle, Edward VII made him a Knight of the Garter on 15 July 1902.
His uncle Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and of Edinburgh, lost his only son, Prince Alfred, in 1899; Queen Victoria's third son, the Duke of Connaught, had renounced his rights to the duchy, and his son, Prince Arthur of Connaught, was attending school at Eton with Charles Edward. In 1900, when Duke Alfred died, the sixteen-year-old Duke of Albany inherited the ducal throne of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha under direct orders from his grandmother Queen Victoria, who gave him a great sense of duty in order to preserve his line of Royal Blood.
For the next five years, he reigned under the regency of the Hereditary Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg under the strict guidance of the Kaiser, Wilhelm II. Upon coming of age on July, 19 1905, the Duke of Albany assumed full constitutional powers as Duke Carl Eduard of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
The Weltkrieg caused a conflict of loyalties for Carl, but finally the Duke supported Germany and held a commission as a general in the German Army (although he never held a major command). Consequently, George V ordered his name removed from the register of the Knights of the Garter in 1915. In July 1917, in an effort to distance his dynasty from its German origins, George V changed the name of British Royal House from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the House of Windsor. That year, the British Parliament passed the Titles Deprivation Act which empowered the Privy Council to investigate "any persons enjoying any dignity or title as a peer or British prince who have, during the present war, borne arms against His Majesty or His Allies, or who have adhered to His Majesty's enemies." Under the terms of that act, an Order in Council on 28 March 1919 formally removed the Duke's British peerages, the Dukedom of Albany, Earldom of Clarence, and the Barony of Arklow. The Duke and his children also lost their entitlement to the titles of Prince and Princess of the United Kingdom and the styles Royal Highness and Highness. Even if he claimed back his past titles for the Peace with Honour, the Duke never recovered them.
Viewed as a traitor in the British Royal Family, and as an unreliable man by German politicians, the Duke immediately turned to right-wing politics, becoming more and more frightened by socialism following the Russian, French and British revolutions. He then approached the national-populist GDVP, and began to personally praise and finance Pan-Germanist organizations. He also became an outspoken advocate of a preventive strike against the Syndicalists, and even for an improvement of the relations with the British Royal Family in exile in Canada in order to counter the Syndicalist threat.
Wilhelm II picked out Carl Eduard's bride for him, his niece and on 11 October 1905, at Glücksburg Castle, Holstein, the Duke married Princess Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein (born December, 31 1885), daughter of the Duke Friedrich Ferdinand of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. The Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha had five children.
- Hereditary Prince Johann Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (born August, 2 1906)
- Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (born January, 18 1908)
- Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (born August, 24 1909)
- Princess Caroline Mathilde of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (born June, 22 1912)
- Prince Friedrich Josias of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (born November, 29 1918)