Prince Albert Victor Duke of Clarence and Avondale, was the eldest son of the Prince and Princess of Wales, who later became King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom.
Born on January 8th, 1864, he was second in line to the British throne from birth and was formally styled His Royal Highness Prince Albert Victor of Wales.
This article explores his life, personal relationships, and legacy.
Prince Albert Victor Duke Of Clarence And Avondale was born prematurely at Frogmore House, Windsor, Berkshire, two months before his due date. He was named after his grandmother, Queen Victoria, and her late husband, Albert.
As a grandchild of the reigning British monarch in the male line and the son of the Prince of Wales, he was second in line to the throne from birth.
He travelled extensively as a naval cadet when he was young, and later joined the British Army, but did not undertake any active military duties.
Prince Albert Victor Duke Of Clarence And Avondale was engaged to Princess Victoria Mary of Teck in late 1891 but died shortly thereafter during a major pandemic.
Prior to this engagement, he had two unsuccessful courtships. His personal life has been the subject of much speculation, including rumours linking him to the Cleveland Street scandal, which involved a homosexual brothel.
However, there is no conclusive evidence that he ever went there, or was indeed homosexual.
Death and Legacy
Just as plans for both his marriage to Mary and his appointment as Viceroy of Ireland were under discussion, Prince Albert Victor Duke Of Clarence And Avondale fell ill with influenza during the pandemic of 1889-1892.
He developed pneumonia and died at Sandringham House in Norfolk on January 14th, 1892, less than a week after his 28th birthday.
His younger brother, Prince George, took his place in the line of succession and eventually succeeded to the throne as King George V in 1910.
Albert Victor’s mother, Queen Alexandra, never fully recovered from her son’s death and kept the room in which he died as a shrine. At the funeral, Mary laid her bridal wreath of orange blossom upon the coffin.
Albert Victor’s posthumous reputation became so bad that in 1964 Philip Magnus called his death a “merciful act of providence,” supporting the theory that his death removed an unsuitable heir to the throne and replaced him with the reliable and sober George V.
However, in 1972, Michael Harrison was the first modern author to re-assess Prince Albert Victor Duke Of Clarence And Avondale and portray him in a more sympathetic light.
Prince Albert Victor Duke Of Clarence And Avondale’s life was marked by tragedy and speculation. Although he did not live long enough to become king or Prince of Wales, his legacy has continued to fascinate historians and the public alike.
His personal relationships and sexual orientation have been the subject of much speculation, but his death from pneumonia during a major pandemic was a profound loss for his family and the nation.
Despite his reputation being diminished by biographers eager to improve the image of his brother George, he remains a figure of interest and curiosity for many.
*Feature Image: W. & D. Downey, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons