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The Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany (Leopold George Duncan Albert; 7 April 1853 – 28 March 1884) was a member of the British Royal Family, a son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Leopold was later created the Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence and Baron Arklow. He was diagnosed with haemophilia as a baby, which later led to his death as an adult.

Early life

Leopold was born on 7 April 1853 at Buckingham Palacemarker, Londonmarker. His mother was Queen Victoria, the reigning British monarch. His father was Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. During labour, Queen Victoria chose to use chloroform and thus sanctioned the use of anesthesia in childbirth, recently developed by Professor James Young Simpson. The chloroform was administered by Dr. John Snow. As a son of the British sovereign, the newborn was styled His Royal Highness The Prince Leopold at birth. His parents named him Leopold after his great-uncle, King Leopold I of the Belgians.

He was baptised in the Private Chapel of Buckingham Palace on 28 June 1853 by The Archbishop of Canterbury, John Bird Sumner, and his godparents were his first cousin once-removed, The King of Hanover; his fourth cousin once-removed, Princess William of Prussia; his first cousin once-removed, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge; and The Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (his maternal uncle by marriage).

Leopold inherited the disease of haemophilia from his mother, Queen Victoria, and spent most of childhood as a semi-invalid. Evidence exists that Leopold also suffered mildly from epilepsy.

Education and career

In 1872, Prince Leopold, entered Christ Church, Oxfordmarker where he studied a variety of subjects. He left the university with an honorary doctorate in civil law (DCL) in 1876. Prince Leopold travelled in Europe and 1880, he toured Canadamarker and the United Statesmarker with his sister, Princess Louise, whose husband John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne was the Governor General of Canada. Incapable of pursuing a military career because of his illness, Prince Leopold instead became a patron of the arts and literature, and served as an unofficial secretary to his mother. Later he pursued gubernatorial appointments in both Canada and Australia, but was rejected in part due to his health problems.

Duke of Albany

Prince Leopold was created Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence and Baron Arklowmarker on 24 May 1881.


Prince Leopold, stifled by the desire of his mother, Queen Victoria, to keep him at home, saw marriage as his only hope of independence. Due to his haemophilia, he had difficulty finding a wife. Heiress Daisy Maynard was one of the women he considered as a possible bride. It has been suggested that he considered Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford for whom Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland, though others suggest that he preferred her sister Edith. Leopold did become godfather of Alice's second son, who was named for him.

Leopold also considered his second cousin Princess Frederica of Hanover for a bride; they instead became lifelong friends and confidantes. Other brides he pursued included Victoria of Baden and Caroline of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg.

After rejection from these women, Leopold's mother stepped in to prevent what she saw as unsuitable possibilities. Insisting that the children of British monarchs should marry into other reigning Protestant families, Victoria suggested a meeting with Princess Helene Friederike, the daughter of Georg Viktor, reigning Prince of Waldeck-Pyrmontmarker. On 27 April 1882, Leopold and Helena were married, at St George's Chapelmarker at Windsor Castlemarker. Leopold and Helena enjoyed a happy (although brief) marriage. In 1883, Leopold became a father when his wife gave birth to a daughter, Alice. He died shortly before the birth of his son, Charles Edward.

Later life

Prince Leopold had haemophilia, diagnosed in childhood and in early years had various physicians in permanent attendance, including John Wickham Legg. The Prince went to Cannes on doctor's orders in February 1884: joint pain is a common symptom of haemophilia and the winter climate in England was always difficult for him. His wife, pregnant at the time, stayed home but urged him to go. On 27 March he slipped and fell in the Yacht Club in Villa Nevada, Cannesmarker, in Francemarker, injuring his knee and he died in the early hours of the next morning, apparently from the effects of the morphine he had been given and the claret that was served with his supper. He was buried in the Albert Memorial Chapel at Windsormarker. His posthumous son, Prince Charles, succeeded him as 2nd Duke of Albany upon birth. In 1900, Charles Edward succeeded his uncle, Alfred, as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

His passing was clebrated by the Scottish "poet and tragedian" William McGonagall in the poem "The Death of Prince Leopold".

Through Charles Edward, Leopold is the great-grandfather of Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, the current King of Swedenmarker.

Titles, styles, honours and arms


  • 7 April 1853 – 24 May 1881: His Royal Highness The Prince Leopold
  • 24 May 1881 – 28 March 1884: His Royal Highness The Duke of Albany



In 1856, at the age of three, Prince Leopold was granted a personal coat of arms — the arms of the kingdom, with an inescutcheon of the shield of Saxony (representing his father), and all differenced by a label argent of three points, the first and third bearing hearts gules, and the second a cross gules.



Image Name Birth Death Notes
Princess Alice of Albany 25 February 1883 3 January 1981 later HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone (sister-in-law to Queen Mary)
Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany 19 July 1884 6 March 1954 Born four months after his father's death; known as 'Charlie'; Leopold Charles Edward George Albert; later reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha


In the romantic comedy film, Kate & Leopold, the latter is a British Duke who goes to New Yorkmarker. He also holds the title Duke of Albany. However, his family surname is Mountbatten, the surname which only entered the royal family through the husband of the present queen. However, it was first borne by Leopold's niece. Bizarrely, the Leopold character is credited with having invented the passenger lift, and having a butler called Otis.


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