Order of Saint John (chartered 1888)
The Order of St John, formally the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem and known as St John International, is a British royal order of chivalry first constituted in 1888 by royal charter from Queen Victoria. The Order traces its origins back to the Knights Hospitaller in the Middle Ages, known as the Order of Malta. A faction of them emerged in France in the 1820s and moved to Britain in the early 1830s, after operating under a succession of grand priors and different names, it became associated with the founding in 1882 of the St John Ophthalmic Hospital near the old city of Jerusalem and the St John Ambulance Brigade in 1887; the order is found throughout the Commonwealth of Nations, Hong Kong, the Republic of Ireland, the United States of America, with the worldwide mission "to prevent and relieve sickness and injury, to act to enhance the health and well-being of people anywhere in the world." The order's 25,000 members, known as confrères, are of the Protestant faith, though those of other Christian denominations or other religions are accepted into the order.
Except via appointment to certain government or ecclesiastical offices in some realms, membership is by invitation only and individuals may not petition for admission. The Order of St John is best known for the health organisations it founded and continues to run, including St John Ambulance and St John Eye Hospital Group; as with the Order, the memberships and work of these organizations are not constricted by denomination or religion. The Order is a constituent member of the Alliance of the Orders of Saint John of Jerusalem, its headquarters are in London and it is a registered charity under English law. In 1823, the Council of the French Langues—a French state-backed and hosted faction of the Order of Malta —sought to raise through private subscription sufficient money to restore a territorial base for the Order of Malta and aid the Greek War of Independence; this was to be achieved by issuing bonds in London to form a mercenary army of demobilized British soldiers using available, cheap war surplus.
A deal transferring various islands to the Order of Malta, including Rhodes when captured, was struck with the Greek rebels, but the attempt to raise money failed when details leaked to the press, the French monarchy withdrew its backing of the council, the bankers refused the loan. The council was reorganised and the Marquis de Sainte-Croix du Molay became its head. In June 1826, a second attempt was made to raise money to restore a Mediterranean homeland for the order when Philippe de Castellane, a French Knight of Malta, was appointed by the council to negotiate with supportive persons in Britain. Scotsman Donald Currie was in 1827 given the authority to raise £240,000. Anyone who subscribed to the project and all commissioned officers of the mercenary army were offered the opportunity of being appointed knights of the order. Few donations were attracted and the Greek War of Independence was won without the help of the knights of the Council of the French Langues. De Castellane and Currie were allowed by the French Council to form the Council of the English Langue, inaugurated on 12 January 1831, under the executive control of Alejandro, conde de Mortara, a Spanish aristocrat.
It was headquartered at what Mortara called the "Auberge of St John", Clerkenwell. This was the Old Jerusalem Tavern, a public house occupying what had once been a gatehouse to the ancient Clerkenwell Priory, the medieval Grand Priory of the Knights Hospitaller, otherwise known as the Knights of Saint John; the creation of the langue has been regarded either as a revival of the Knights Hospitaller or the establishment of a new order. The Reverend Sir Robert Peat, the absentee perpetual curate of St Lawrence, Brentford, in Middlesex, one of the many former chaplains to Prince George, had been recruited by the council as a member of the society in 1830. On 29 January 1831, in the presence of Philip de Castellane and the Agent-General of the French Langues, Peat was elected Prior ad interim, he and other British members of the organisation, with the backing of the Council of the French Langues on the grounds that he had been selling knighthoods, expelled Mortara, leading to two competing English chivalric groups between early 1832 and Mortara's disappearance in 1837.
On 24 February 1834, three years after becoming prior ad interim, in order to publicly reaffirm his claim to the office of prior and in the hope of reviving a charter of Queen Mary I dealing with the original English branch of the Order of Malta, took the oath de fideli administratione in the Court of the King's Bench, before the Lord Chief Justice. Peat was thus credited as being the first grand prior of the association, however, "W. B. H." wrote in January 1919 to the journal Notes & Queries: "His name is not in the knights' lists, he was never'Prior in the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem': he became an ordinary member of that Order on Nov. 11, 1830." Sir Robert Peat died in April 1837 and Sir Henry Dymoke was appointed grand prior and re-established contact with the knights in France and Germany, into which the group had by that time expanded. However, until the late 1830s, the British arm of the organisation had only considered itself to be a grand priory and langue of the Order of St John, having never been recognized as such by the established order.
Dymoke sought to rectify this by seeking acknowledgement fro
Christian IX of Denmark
Christian IX was King of Denmark from 1863 until his death in 1906. From 1863 to 1864, he was concurrently Duke of Schleswig and Lauenburg. Growing up as a prince of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, a junior branch of the House of Oldenburg which had ruled Denmark since 1448, Christian was not in the immediate line of succession to the Danish throne. However, in 1852, Christian was chosen as heir to the Danish monarchy in light of the expected extinction of the senior line of the House of Oldenburg. Upon the death of King Frederick VII of Denmark in 1863, Christian acceded to the throne as the first Danish monarch of the House of Glücksburg; the beginning of his reign was marked by the Danish defeat in the Second Schleswig War and the subsequent loss of the duchies of Schleswig and Lauenburg which made the king immensely unpopular. The following years of his reign were dominated by political disputes as Denmark had only become a constitutional monarchy in 1849 and the balance of power between the sovereign and parliament was still in dispute.
In spite of his initial unpopularity and the many years of political strife, where the king was in conflict with large parts of the population, his popularity recovered towards the end of his reign, he became a national icon due to the length of his reign and the high standards of personal morality with which he was identified. Christian married his second cousin, Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel, in 1842, their six children married into other royal families across Europe, earning him the sobriquet "the father-in-law of Europe". Margrethe II of Denmark, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Philippe of Belgium, Harald V of Norway, Felipe VI of Spain, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Constantine II of Greece, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Queen Sofia of Spain, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, are among his descendants. Christian was born on 8 April 1818 at Gottorf Castle near the town of Schleswig in the Duchy of Schleswig as Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, the fourth son of Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, Princess Louise Caroline of Hesse-Kassel.
He was named after Prince Christian of Denmark, the King Christian VIII, his godfather. Christian's father was the head of the ducal house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, a junior male branch of the House of Oldenburg. Through his father, Christian was thus a direct male-line descendant of King Christian III of Denmark and an agnatic descendant of Helvig of Schauenburg, mother of King Christian I of Denmark, the "Semi-Salic" heiress of her brother Adolf of Schauenburg, last Schauenburg duke of Schleswig and count of Holstein; as such, Christian was eligible to succeed in the twin duchies of Schleswig-Holstein, but not first in line. Christian's mother was a daughter of Landgrave Charles of Hesse, a Danish Field Marshal and Royal Governor of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, his wife Princess Louise of Denmark, a daughter of Frederick V of Denmark. Through his mother, Christian was thus a great-grandson of Frederick V, great-great-grandson of George II of Great Britain and a descendant of several other monarchs, but had no direct claim to any European throne.
Christian lived with his parents and many siblings at Gottorf Castle, where the family stayed with Duke Friedrich Wilhelm's parents-in-law. However, on 6 June 1825, Duke Friedrich Wilhelm was appointed Duke of Glücksburg by his brother-in-law Frederick VI of Denmark, as the elder Glücksburg line had become extinct in 1779, he subsequently changed his title to Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and founded the younger Glücksburg line. Subsequently, the family moved to Glücksburg Castle, where Christian was raised with his siblings under their father's supervision. Following the early death of the father in 1831, Christian grew up in Denmark and was educated in the Military Academy of Copenhagen; as a young man, Christian unsuccessfully sought the hand of his third cousin, Queen Victoria, in marriage. At the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen on 26 May 1842, he married his half-second cousin, Louise of Hesse-Kassel, a niece of Christian VIII. In 1852, with the approval of the great powers of Europe, Christian was chosen by King Frederick VII to be heir presumptive after the extinction of the most senior line to the Danish throne, as Frederick VII seemed incapable of fathering children.
A justification for this choice was his marriage to Louise of Hesse-Kassel, who—as a niece of Christian VIII of Denmark—was related to the royal family. Frederick VII's childlessness had presented a thorny dilemma and the question of succession to the Danish throne proved problematic. Denmark's adherence to the Salic Law and a burgeoning nationalism within the German-speaking parts of Schleswig-Holstein hindered all hopes of a peaceful solution. Proposed resolutions to keep the two Duchies together and part of Denmark proved unsatisfactory to both Danish and German interests. While Denmark had adopted the Salic Law, this only affected the descendants of Frederick III of Denmark, the first hereditary monarch of Denmark. Agnatic descent from Frederick III would end with the death of the childless King Frederick VII and his childless uncle, Prince Ferdinand. At that point, the law of succession promulgated by Frederick III provided for a Semi-Salic succession. There were, several ways to interpret to whom the crown could pass, since the provision was not clear as to whether a claimant to the throne could be the closest female relative or not.
As the nations of Europe looked on, the numerous descendants of Hel
Philip de László
Philip Alexius de László, MVO was an Anglo-Hungarian painter known for his portraits of royal and aristocratic personages. In 1900, he married Lucy Guinness of Stillorgan, County Dublin, became a British subject in 1914. László was born in humble circumstances in Budapest as Fülöp Laub, the eldest son of Adolf and Johanna Laub, a tailor and seamstress of Jewish origin. Fülöp and his younger brother Marczi changed their surname to László in 1891, he was apprenticed at an early age to a photographer while studying art earning a place at the National Academy of Art, where he studied under Bertalan Székely and Károly Lotz. He followed this with studies in Paris. László's portrait of Pope Leo XIII earned him a Grand Gold Medal at the Paris International Exhibition in 1900. In 1903 László moved from Budapest to Vienna. In 1907 he moved to England and remained based in London for the remainder of his life, although endlessly travelling the world to fulfill commissions. In 1900, László married Lucy Madeleine Guinness, a member of the banking branch of the Guinness family and a sister of Henry Guinness.
They had first for some years had been forbidden to see each other. The couple had 17 grandchildren. László became interested in Catholicism as a young man through his friendship with the Valentins, an elderly Bavarian couple, he was baptised into the Hungarian Catholic Church in 1894... "he never worshipped but read the Bible and was a firm believer in God and the Christian story". His faith was strengthened by his visit to the Vatican in 1900, where he met and painted the aging Pope Leo XIII. László converted to Anglicanism upon his marriage, his children were raised as Protestants. At a lecture to the Fisher Society in 1934, he said "I believe that to worship nature is a religious duty. I see in nature the fullest revelation of the Divinity, my faith is that only by acceptance of this revelation and by striving to realise it in all its perfection can I prove my worship to be sincere". László's patrons awarded him numerous medals. In 1909 he was invested MVO by Edward VII. In 1912 he was ennobled by King Franz Joseph of Hungary.
Despite his British citizenship, his marriage and five British sons, de László was interned for over twelve months in 1917 and 1918 during the First World War. He was exonerated and released in June 1919. Due to overwork de László suffered heart problems for the last years of his life. In October 1937 he had a heart attack and died a month at his home, Hyme House, in Hampstead, London. In 1939, Portrait of a Painter; the Authorized Life of Philip de László by Owen Rutter, written in conjunction with de László, was published. In 2010 Yale University Press published De László, His Life and Art by Duff Hart-Davis and Dr. Caroline Corbeau-Parsons, his reputation still remains as a society portrait painter, but well numbered amongst his sitters were industrialists and scientists and painters, men and women of letters and many other eminent, as well as ordinary, people. Family members and a team of editors are compiling a catalogue raisonné published online and in progress, his oeuvre numbers 4,000 works, including drawings.
Portraits painted by László include the following individuals: Philip de László Works by Philip Alexius de László at Faded Page de László Catalogue Raisonné website National Portrait Gallery biographical profile and links to images. Articles on de László, jssgallery.org. Interview with the Hon. Sandra de Laszlo regarding her grandfather-in-law's work and current appeal. Royal Society of Portrait Painters' millennium catalogue. Portrait of Princess Victoria Alexandra Olga Mary of Wales, npg.org.uk.
Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom
Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom, was the fifth daughter and youngest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Beatrice was the last of Queen Victoria's children to die, 66 years after the first, her elder sister Alice. Beatrice's childhood coincided with Queen Victoria's grief following the death of her husband Albert, Prince Consort on 14 December 1861; as her elder sisters married and left their mother, Queen Victoria came to rely on the company of her youngest daughter, whom she called "Baby" for most of her childhood. Beatrice was brought up to stay with her mother always and she soon resigned herself to her fate. Queen Victoria was so set against her youngest daughter marrying that she refused to discuss the possibility. Many suitors were put forward, including Louis Napoléon, Prince Imperial, the son of the exiled Emperor Napoleon III of France, Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse, the widower of Beatrice's older sister Alice, she was attracted to the Prince Imperial and there was talk of a possible marriage, but he was killed in the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879.
Beatrice fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg, the son of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine and Julia von Hauke and brother-in-law of her niece Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine. After a year of persuasion, Queen Victoria, whose consent was required pursuant to the Royal Marriages Act agreed to the marriage, which took place at Whippingham on the Isle of Wight on 23 July 1885. Queen Victoria consented on condition that Beatrice and Henry make their home with her and that Beatrice continue her duties as the Queen's unofficial secretary; the Prince and Princess had four children, but 10 years into their marriage, on 20 January 1896, Prince Henry died of malaria while fighting in the Anglo-Asante War. Beatrice remained at her mother's side until Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901. Beatrice devoted the next 30 years to editing Queen Victoria's journals as her designated literary executor and continued to make public appearances, she died at 87, outliving all her siblings, two of her children, several nieces and nephews including George V and Wilhelm II.
Beatrice was born at Buckingham Palace. She was the fifth daughter and youngest of the nine children of the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria, her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; the birth caused controversy when it was announced that Queen Victoria would seek relief from the pains of delivery through the use of chloroform administered by Dr John Snow. Chloroform was considered dangerous to mother and child and was frowned upon by the Church of England and the medical authorities. Queen Victoria was used "that blessed chloroform" for her last pregnancy. A fortnight Queen Victoria reported in her journal, "I was amply rewarded and forgot all I had gone through when I heard dearest Albert say'It's a fine child, a girl!'" Albert and Queen Victoria chose the names Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore: Mary after Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester, the last surviving child of King George III of the United Kingdom. She was baptised in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace on 16 June 1857.
Her godparents were the Duchess of Kent. From birth, Beatrice became a favoured child; the elder favourite daughter of Prince Albert, the Princess Royal, was about to take up residence in Germany with her new husband, Frederick of Prussia. At the same time, the newly arrived Beatrice showed promise. Albert wrote to Augusta, Fritz's mother, that "Baby practises her scales like a good prima donna before a performance and has a good voice!" Although Queen Victoria was known to dislike most babies, she liked Beatrice, whom she considered attractive. This provided Beatrice with an advantage over her elder siblings. Queen Victoria once remarked that Beatrice was "a pretty and flourishing child... with fine large blue eyes, pretty little mouth and fine skin". Her long, golden hair was the focus of paintings commissioned by Queen Victoria, who enjoyed giving Beatrice her bath, in marked contrast to her bathing preferences for her other children. Beatrice showed intelligence, which further endeared her to the Prince Consort, amused by her childhood precociousness.
He wrote to Baron Stockmar that Beatrice was "the most amusing baby we have had." Despite sharing the rigorous education programme designed by Prince Albert and his close adviser, Baron Stockmar, Beatrice had a more relaxed infancy than her siblings because of her relationship with her parents. By four years of age, the youngest, the acknowledged last royal child, Beatrice was not forced to share her parents' attention the way her siblings had, her amusing ways provided comfort to her faltering father. In March 1861, Queen Victoria's mother Victoria, Duchess of Kent, died at Frogmore; the Queen broke down in guilt over their estrangement at the beginning of her reign. Beatrice tried to console her mother by reminding her that the Duchess of Kent was "in heaven, but Beatrice hopes she will return"; this comfort was significant because Queen Victoria had isolated herself from her children except the eldest unmarried, Princess Alice, Beatrice. Queen Victoria again relied on Beatrice and Alice after the death of Albert, of typhoid fever, on 14 December.
The depth of the Queen's grief over the death of her husband surprised her family, courtiers and general populace. As when her mother died, she shut herself off from h
Royal Family Order of George V
The Royal Family Order of King George V is an honour, bestowed on female members of the British Royal Family by King George V. Queen Elizabeth II is the only surviving recipient; the ribbon of King George V's Royal Family Order is white. The Queen, the King's wife The Princess Royal Countess of Harewood, the King's daughter The Duchess of York The Queen and The Queen Mother, the King's daughter-in-law The Duchess of Gloucester Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, the King's daughter-in-law The Duchess of Kent Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, the King's daughter-in-law Princess Elizabeth of York Duchess of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth II, the King's granddaughter Princess Margaret of York Countess of Snowdon, the King's granddaughter The Countess of Athlone, the King's cousin Princess Arthur of Connaught, the King's niece
St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in England, is a chapel designed in the high-medieval Gothic style. It is both a Royal Peculiar, a church under the direct jurisdiction of the monarch, the Chapel of the Order of the Garter. Seating 800, it is located in the Lower Ward of the castle. St. George's castle chapel was established in the 14th century by King Edward III and began extensive enlargement in the late 15th century, it has been the location of many royal ceremonies and burials. Windsor Castle is a principal residence for Queen Elizabeth II; the day-to-day running of the Chapel is the responsibility of the Dean and Canons of Windsor who make up the religious College of St George, directed by a Chapter of the Dean and four Canons, assisted by a Clerk and other staff. The Society of the Friends of St George's and Descendants of the Knights of the Garter, a registered charity, was established in 1931 to assist the College in maintaining the Chapel. In 1348, King Edward III founded two new religious colleges: St Stephen's at Westminster and St George's at Windsor.
The new college at Windsor was attached to the Chapel of St Edward the Confessor, constructed by Henry III in the early thirteenth century. The chapel was rededicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, George the Martyr and Edward the Confessor, but soon after became known only by the dedication to St. George. Edward III built the Aerary Porch in 1353–54, it was used as the entrance to the new college. St George's Chapel became the Mother Church of the Order of the Garter, a special service is still held in the chapel every June and is attended by the members of the order, their heraldic banners hang above the upper stalls of the choir. The period 1475–1528 saw a radical redevelopment of St George's Chapel under the designs of King Henry VII's most prized counsellor Sir Reginald Bray, set in motion by Edward IV and continued by Henry VII and Henry VIII; the thirteenth-century Chapel of Edward the Confessor was expanded into a huge new Cathedral-like chapel under the supervision of Richard Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury, the direction of the master mason Henry Janyns.
The Horseshoe Cloister was constructed for the new community of 45 junior members: 16 vicars, a deacon gospeller, 13 lay clerks, 2 clerks epistoler and 13 choristers. The choristers of St George's Chapel are still in existence to this day, although the total number is not fixed and is nearer to 20; the choristers are educated at Windsor Castle. They are full boarders at the school. In term time they attend practice in the castle every morning and sing Matins and Eucharist on Sundays and sing Evensong throughout the entire week, with the exception of Wednesdays. St George's Chapel was a popular destination for pilgrims during the late medieval period; the chapel was purported to contain several important relics: the bodies of John Schorne and Henry VI and a fragment of the True Cross held in a reliquary called the Cross of Gneth. It was taken from the Welsh by Edward II after his conquest along with other sacred relics; these relics all appear to have been displayed at the east end of the south choir aisle.
The Chapel suffered a great deal of destruction during the English Civil War. Parliamentary forces broke into and plundered the chapel and treasury on 23 October 1642. Further pillaging occurred in 1643 when the fifteenth-century chapter house was destroyed, lead was stripped off the chapel roofs, elements of Henry VIII's unfinished funeral monument were stolen. Following his execution in 1649, Charles I was buried in a small vault in the centre of the choir at St George's Chapel which contained the coffins of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. A programme of repair was undertaken at St George's Chapel following the Restoration of the monarchy; the reign of Queen Victoria saw further changes made to the architecture of the chapel. The east end of the choir was reworked in devotion to Prince Albert. In the 21st century, St George's accommodates 800 persons for services and events. On the roof of the chapel, standing on the pinnacles, on pinnacles on the sides, are seventy-six heraldic statues representing the Queen's Beasts, showing the Royal supporters of England.
They represent fourteen of the heraldic animals: the lion of England, the red dragon of Wales, the panther of Jane Seymour, the falcon of York, the black bull of Clarence, the yale of Beaufort, the white lion of Mortimer, the greyhound of Richmond, the white hart of Richard II, the collared silver antelope of Bohun, the black dragon of Ulster, the white swan of Hereford, the unicorn of Edward III and the golden hind of Kent. The original beasts dated from the sixteenth century, but were removed in 1682 on the advice of Sir Christopher Wren. Wren had condemned the calcareous sandstone of which they were constructed; the present statues date from 1925. Members of the Order of the Garter meet at Windsor Castle every June for the annual Garter Service. After lunch in the State Apartments in the Upper Ward of the Castle they process on foot, wearing their robes and insignia, down to St George's Chapel where the service is held. If any new members have been admitted to the Order they are installed at the service.
After the service, the members of the order return to the Upper Ward by car. The Order had frequent services at the chapel, after becoming infrequent in the 18
Albert, Prince Consort
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was the husband of Queen Victoria. He was born in the Saxon duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, to a family connected to many of Europe's ruling monarchs. At the age of 20, he married Queen Victoria, he felt constrained by his role of prince consort, which did not afford him power or responsibilities. He developed a reputation for supporting public causes, such as educational reform and the abolition of slavery worldwide, was entrusted with running the Queen's household and estates, he was involved with the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851, a resounding success. Victoria came to depend more on his support and guidance, he aided the development of Britain's constitutional monarchy by persuading his wife to be less partisan in her dealings with Parliament—although he disagreed with the interventionist foreign policy pursued during Lord Palmerston's tenure as Foreign Secretary. Albert died at the young age of 42. Victoria was so devastated at the loss of her husband that she entered into a deep state of mourning and wore black for the rest of her life.
On her death in 1901, their eldest son succeeded as Edward VII, the first British monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, named after the ducal house to which Albert belonged. Albert was born at Schloss Rosenau, near Coburg, the second son of Ernest III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, his first wife, Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Albert's future wife, was born earlier in the same year with the assistance of the same midwife, Charlotte von Siebold. Albert was baptised into the Lutheran Evangelical Church on 19 September 1819 in the Marble Hall at Schloss Rosenau with water taken from the local river, the Itz, his godparents were the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. In 1825, Albert's great-uncle, Frederick IV, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, died, his death led to a realignment of Saxon duchies the following year and Albert's father became the first reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Albert and his elder brother, spent their youth in a close companionship marred by their parents' turbulent marriage and eventual separation and divorce.
After their mother was exiled from court in 1824, she married her lover, Alexander von Hanstein, Count of Polzig and Beiersdorf. She never saw her children again, died of cancer at the age of 30 in 1831; the following year, their father married his sons' cousin Princess Marie of Württemberg. The brothers were educated at home by Christoph Florschütz and studied in Brussels, where Adolphe Quetelet was one of their tutors. Like many other German princes, Albert attended the University of Bonn, where he studied law, political economy and the history of art, he played music and excelled at sport fencing and riding. His tutors at Bonn included the poet Schlegel; the idea of marriage between Albert and his cousin, was first documented in an 1821 letter from his paternal grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, who said that he was "the pendant to the pretty cousin". By 1836, this idea had arisen in the mind of their ambitious uncle Leopold, King of the Belgians since 1831. At this time, Victoria was the heir presumptive to the British throne.
Her father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III, had died when she was a baby, her elderly uncle, King William IV, had no legitimate children. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent, was the sister of both Albert's father—the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha—and King Leopold. Leopold arranged for his sister, Victoria's mother, to invite the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his two sons to visit her in May 1836, with the purpose of meeting Victoria. William IV, disapproved of any match with the Coburgs, instead favoured the suit of Prince Alexander, second son of the Prince of Orange. Victoria was well aware of the various matrimonial plans and critically appraised a parade of eligible princes, she wrote, " is handsome. Alexander, on the other hand, she described as "very plain". Victoria wrote to her uncle Leopold to thank him "for the prospect of great happiness you have contributed to give me, in the person of dear Albert... He possesses every quality that could be desired to render me happy."
Although the parties did not undertake a formal engagement, both the family and their retainers assumed that the match would take place. Victoria came to the throne aged eighteen on 20 June 1837, her letters of the time show interest in Albert's education for the role he would have to play, although she resisted attempts to rush her into marriage. In the winter of 1838–39, the prince visited Italy, accompanied by the Coburg family's confidential adviser, Baron Stockmar. Albert returned to the United Kingdom with Ernest in October 1839 to visit the Queen, with the objective of settling the marriage. Albert and Victoria felt mutual affection and the Queen proposed to him on 15 October 1839. Victoria's intention to marry was declared formally to the Privy Council on 23 November, the couple married on