Saturday, February 23, 2019

Stars in Her Crown #8: Leopold, Duke of Albany

#8 Leopold by Becky Brown

Prince Leopold George Duncan Albert (1853-1884) was named for his parents' common uncle. First cousins Victoria and Albert were close to their Uncle Leopold of Saxe Coburg-Gotha who'd decided when they were young that they should marry. 

Their youngest son and eighth child was afflicted with serious health problems. Leopold suffered from seizures and hemophilia, an unfortunate combination as any falls resulted in bleeding episodes. He was diagnosed with hemophilia at about 7 years old but it was his seizure disorder that concerned his family the most. Victoria tried with limited success to restrict his activities.
"[Leopold] bruises as much as ever...he holds himself still as badly as ever and is very ugly....He is a very clever, amusing but very absurd child."
Leopold and elder sister Louise.
Both were musically gifted; Leopold played the piano and flute.
As younger children they had more freedom
although freedom required braving the Queen's wrath.

English winters are hard on a hemophiliac's joints so when he was eight Leopold began spending the winter months on the French Riviera in the company of a doctor and an elderly guardian Edward Bowater and his family. When Prince Albert died in December, 1861, Leopold was in Cannes where Bowater died the same day.

Leopold soon after his father's death,
miniature by William Charles Bell

Hemophilia, a hereditary blood clotting disorder, was little understood. When Leopold was 20 his mother wrote that a grandson had "the same constitution as Leopold. Only where does it all come from?"

Leopold, photographed by Charles Dodgson, 1875
John Ruskin: "He had no extraordinary taste for art, 
although all his sisters are artistic; 
his special gift was musical."

Leopold was bright, rebellious and practical. If rough sports were restricted he became a chess expert and popularized croquet. He graduated from Oxford and while there associated with a set of aesthetes, becoming friends with art professor John Ruskin, painter John Millais and composer Arthur Sullivan. Other friends included the Liddell family and Charles Dodgson (see Alice in Wonderland). Leopold named his daughter Alice and Alice Liddell named a son Leopold.
One can't imagine where Dodgson got the idea for Lewis Carroll's
unpleasant monarchs.

Leopold led an active life yet survived his hemophilia for a remarkable amount of time in the 19th century. He did have terrible attacks of internal bleeding. Ruskin wrote of a winter, 1878 visit to Leopold, " a prisoner on his sofa lately...he is very bright and gentle under severe and almost continual pain."

Victoria in signature Queenly fashion was concerned about 20-year-old Leopold's suffering but complained to Vicky who was worried about her brother, "You only speak of him and not of my constant anxiety and the terrible difficulties I have to contend with...."

After a later attack of bleeding in his leg: "Baby has written to you about that wretched Leopold--who has through constant carelessness...got a most dreadful leg."

Leopold married his German princess Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont in 1882. On his birthday soon before his marriage the Queen wrote in her diary: "How often has his poor young life hung by a thread and how many and wearisome illnesses has he recover from....he has found a girl, so charming, ready to accept and love him in spite of his ailments." 

It was a short but happy marriage. On his winter visit to Cannes in 1884 he fell and hit his head, probably dying of bleeding in the brain at the age of 30. Helen was expecting their second child.

Alice, Helen and Charles Edward, the Duke of Albany
The Duchess of Albany worked to keep her husband's memory alive. The Queen
kept her and the children close until they moved to Germany.

Bench dedicated to Leopold in Cannes

When Leopold and Helen's son Charles was sixteen he was chosen as heir to the throne of Saxe Coburg & Gotha. Helen and Alice moved to Germany to be with him. The first Leopold's plans to unite England and Germany in common fellowship would seem to be working but World War I upset it all.

 Carl Eduard and his family in 1925

Charles who changed his name to Carl Eduard fought for Germany. During World War I Parliament stripped him and his cousins of their German titles. Between the wars he became a Nazi and is thought to have spied for Hitler on his English relatives, particularly King Edward VIII, to determine how willing the English cousins were to thwart Germany's plans for European domination.

The Windsors visiting Hitler and the German cousins, 1937

After the King abdicated Carl hosted a dinner for newlyweds the Duke and Duchess of Windsor on their ill-advised trip to Germany. Through Carl's family, Leopold the Duke of Albany is great-grandfather of the King of Sweden Carl Gustav XVI.

#8 Leopold 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 #8 the triangles are identical except four are flipped over.
In the sketch those four have a different color for Point A and strip C to give a shaded effect (although as you can see the model makers shaded them in various fashion.)

1-8 by Denniele Bohannon
One more block to go.

Mark's is quilted too.
Quilter: Jennifer Strauser

Textile of the Week

What looks to be a printed silk pocket square "England's Hope" with the eighth child Leopold as the youngest so we can guess it's from about 1853.

Artists had a hard time portraying children but this one
was exceptionally off.

Arthur and Leopold in 1863

Read a book a week:
Prince Leopold: The Untold Story of Queen Victoria’s Youngest Son by Charlotte Zeepvat


  1. Love the block, and especially the Royal family story. We have a series on TV at the moment of the Royal family during Victoria's reign.

  2. Hi Barbara, I decided not to do the blocks though I was tempted, but I do love the history lesson every week.

  3. I'm enjoying reading "Victoria's Daughter" by Jerrold Packard and watching the PBS series. Your little notes on each child are so wonderful!

  4. I didn't do the blocks either, Bobbi, but reading about the poor royals is always fun.

  5. I love seeing the blocks and as for Victoria, what a self absorbed person she was!
    Thank you Barbara.

  6. I am enjoying the stories and understanding all the connections to the European royal families. As well I am having fun keeping up with making the blocks each week.Thanks for this great series Barbara.