Saturday, January 26, 2019

Stars in Her Crown #4: Alfred Duke of Saxe Coburg & Gotha

Block #4 Alfred by Denniele Bohannon

Prince Alfred (1844-1900), called Affie in the Royal Family

Affie was often paired with his older brother. As a small child he was pretty, sweet and compliant (unlike Bertie.) Affie's childish misbehavior was forgiven more often than that of the royal heir.

Letter from the Queen to Vicky when the boys were in their teens:
"Affie is going on admirably and oh! when I see him...and look at...! (You know what I mean!) I am in utter despair!"
 Bertie and Affie with their tutor Mr. Gibbs in 1854

Affie and Bertie were close despite their parents' show of preference. In later life Bertie's revenge was calling Affie "a crashing bore."

Affie with the Duchess of Kent and sister Alice
about 1860, the year before Grandmama died

Alfred at 3, an etching by his mother.
National Gallery of Victoria, Australia

Alfred was fascinated by the Navy and at the age of 14 he went to sea. 

 Lieutenant in the Royal Navy at 21
He was away on duty when Prince Albert died in 1861.

As a sailor he led a more adventurous life than that of his brothers. He survived being shot by an assassin at a picnic in Sydney, Australia when he was in his mid 20s. (It is surprising to find how many disaffected and/or insane subjects fired at the Royal Family over the years.)

And being a man of the world he ran with a fast set of "swells," just like his brother Bertie---too much like his brother Bertie. As the boys grew into men, their mother was disgusted with their late Victorian excesses. Whereas she grew to care for Bertie, she did not really like Alfred, telling Vicky that the 30-year-old Affie was showing "no improvement in him as yet---otherwise. There is the same ungracious, reserved manner which makes him so little liked"

Alfred was given an English title, the Duke of Edinburgh. But these children of German grandparents were also German royalty. When Uncle Ernest (Prince Albert's only brother) died with no heirs in 1893 Alfred accepted his position as Duke of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha.

David Oakes as Uncle Ernest
Duke of  Saxe-Coburg & Gotha

His successor: Alfred, Duke of  Saxe-Coburg & Gotha
The real Alfred's face and style here make it hard to tell him from other
European rulers before World War I---all relatives.

Alfred preferred the British Navy to running two small German Duchies, the yellow spots here in today's Bavaria & Thuringia. His life there was not happy. He was said to love music and play the violin badly. He collected ceramics and glass, a collection now housed in the Coburg Fortress.

Marie Alexandrovna (1852-1920)
A Romanoff
She and Alfred had one son and four daughters

Marriage to Marie Alexandrovna of Russia was designed to bring two powerhouse states closer but Marie, daughter of the Tsar, did not endear herself to her English in-laws. Just who had higher status? The daughter of the English Queen or of the Russian Tsar? There was much discussion.

Royal cover-up of the suicide

During their 25th wedding anniversary celebration in 1899 their only son Alfred shot himself and died a few days later. Affie himself died soon after of cancer.

Prince Alfred in Scottish regalia

The end of Affie's life was rather sad but I would guess that like his older brother he enjoyed most of his 60+ years.

Block #4 Alfred by Mark Lauer

The Block

The larger pattern is for a 12" Block; the smaller for an 8" Block.

To Print:
Create a word file or an empty JPG file.
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file 8-1/2" x 11". Check to be sure the inch square box measures 1".
You'll need 4 copies if you are going to piece it over paper foundations.

The block is constructed in triangles—-Triangles are flipped and pieced into squares, four to a block. Each pattern includes paper foundations for 8” & 12” blocks, which you can also use for template piecing. Add a 1/4” seam allowance when you cut the fabric using the templates.

In Block #4 the triangles are identical except four are flipped over. And those four have a different color for Point A, purple in one set in the sketch and a different purple for the other.

Block #4 Alfred by Becky Brown

Textile of the Week

Becky & Denniele used a blue reproduction fabric for star points. Decades ago Terry Thompson and I had a document scrap of this print, a shirting scale cotton designed to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. We sent it off the Japan to be copied and I don't think it ever came back. I've never found another photo of an original.


But many thousands of yards of our repro were printed in blues, tans and reds in the line we called Victoria's Crown. It isn't the best print we ever did. I never liked smudging up the background, a trend in the 1990s to make fabric look "primitive"----grunge.

But heck, it's the only Queen Victoria shirting print I ever reproduced. And I wish I still had some to give away.

Here's another shirting-scale print produced for the earlier 1887 celebration of her 50th anniversary on the throne.

Read a Book a Week:
Alfred: Queen Victoria's Second Son by John Van der Kiste


  1. Another lovely block and interesting history lesson! I am loving this sew along Barbara! Thank you!

  2. nice challenging block....now to catch up!

  3. Ok Denniele and Becky, I'm just gonna say it! I LOVE all three of our versions of this block! Looking forward to seeing more!

  4. It's KILLING me to know where Mark gets that blue from!

  5. Hi Shannon. It’s an ombre blue that is from Pam Week’s Prussian blue collection by Newcastle fabrics. I love a good Prussian blue!

  6. Cerebral attack??? A new euphemism for my vocabulary. It's sad, though... Thank you Barbara for the history and photos that accompany the blocks. Brilliant!

    This is a beautiful block, rendered even more beauteous by three of our group!