German: Ernst August Karl Johann Leopold Alexander Eduard
English: Ernest Augustus Charles John Leopold Alexander Edward
Coburg and Gotha
Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Ernest II (German: Ernst August Karl Johann Leopold Alexander Eduard;
21 June 1818 – 22 August 1893) was the sovereign duke of the Duchy
Coburg and Gotha, reigning from 1844 to his death. Ernest was
Coburg as the elder child of Ernest I, Duke of
Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and his wife, Princess Louise of
Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Fourteen months later, his younger brother,
Prince Albert, was born, who became consort of
Queen Victoria of the
United Kingdom. Ernest's father became Duke of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
in 1826 through an exchange of territories.
In 1842, Ernest married
Princess Alexandrine of Baden
Princess Alexandrine of Baden in what was to
be a childless marriage. Soon after, he succeeded as duke upon the
death of his father on 29 January 1844. As reigning Duke Ernest II, he
German Confederation in the Schleswig-
against Denmark, sending thousands of troops and becoming the
commander of a German corps; as such, he was instrumental in the 1849
victory at the battle of
Eckernförde against Danish forces. After
King Otto of Greece
King Otto of Greece was deposed in 1862, the British government put
Ernest's name forward as a possible successor. Negotiations fell
through however for various reasons, not in the least of which was
that he would not give up his beloved duchies in favor of the Greek
A supporter of a unified Germany, Ernest watched the various political
movements with great interest. While he initially was a great and
outspoken proponent of the liberal movement, he surprised many by
switching sides and supporting the more conservative (and eventually
victorious) Prussians during the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian
wars and subsequent unification of Germany. His support of the
conservatives came at a price however, and he was no longer viewed as
the possible leader of a political movement. According to historian
Charlotte Zeepvat, Ernest became "increasingly lost in a whirl of
private amusements which earned only contempt from outside".
Ernest's position was often linked to his brother Prince Albert,
husband of Queen Victoria. The two boys were raised as though twins,
and became closer upon the separation and divorce of their parents, as
well as the eventual death of their mother. The princes' relationship
experienced phases of closeness as well as minor arguments as they
grew older; after Albert's death in 1861, Ernest became gradually more
antagonistic to Victoria and her children, as well as increasingly
bitter toward the United Kingdom, publishing anonymous pamphlets
against various members of the British royal family. Despite their
increasingly differing political views and opinions however, Ernest
accepted his second eldest nephew Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, as
his heir-presumptive. Upon Ernest's death on 22 August 1893 at
Reinhardsbrunn, Alfred succeeded to the ducal throne.
1 Early life
3 Duke of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
3.1 Development of a constitution
3.3 Nomination for the Greek throne
3.4 Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian Wars
3.5 Later years
4 Inheritance to Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
5 Titles, styles, honours, and arms
5.1 Titles and styles
7 See also
10 External links
Ernest (right) with his younger brother Albert and mother Louise,
shortly before her exile from court
Ernest, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, was born at
Ehrenburg Palace in
Coburg on 21 June 1818. He was the elder son of
Ernest III, Duke of
Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and his first wife Princess
Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. He was soon joined by a brother,
Prince Albert, who would later become the husband of Queen Victoria.
Though Duke Ernest fathered numerous children in various affairs, the
two boys would have no other legitimate siblings. In 1826, their
father succeeded as Ernest I,
Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha through an
exchange of territories after the death of the duke's uncle, Frederick
IV, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.
There are various accounts of Ernest's childhood. When he was fourteen
months old, a servant commented that Ernest "runs around like a
weasel. He is teething and as cross as a little badger from impatience
and liveliness. He is not pretty now, except his beautiful black
eyes." In May 1820, his mother described Ernest as "very big for
his age, as well as intelligent. His big black eyes are full of spirit
and vivacity." Biographer
Richard Hough writes that "even from
their infancy, it was plainly evident that the elder son took after
his father, in character and appearance, while Albert strongly
resembled his mother in most respects." Ernest and his brother
often lived with their grandmother the Dowager Duchess of
Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld until her death in 1831.
He and Albert were brought up and educated together as if they were
twins. Though Albert was fourteen months younger, he surpassed
Ernest intellectually. According to their tutor, "they went
hand-in-hand in all things, whether at work or at play. Engaging in
the same pursuits, sharing the same joys and the same sorrows, they
were bound to each other by no common feelings of mutual love".
Perhaps the "sorrows" aforementioned related to their parents'
marriage. It was not a happy one and Duke Ernest I was continually
unfaithful. In 1824, Ernest I and Louise divorced; she subsequently
Coburg and was disallowed from seeing her sons again. She soon
remarried to Alexander von Hanstein, Count of Pölzig and Beiersdorf,
dying in 1831 at the age of thirty. The year after her death,
their father married his niece Duchess Marie of Württemberg, who was
his sister Antoinette's daughter. Their stepmother was thus also their
first cousin. The duke and his new duchess were not close, and would
produce no children; while the boys formed a happy relationship with
their stepmother, Marie had little to no input in her stepsons'
lives. The separation and divorce of their parents, as well as the
later death of their mother left the boys scarred and in close
companionship with each other.
A lithograph of Ernest, 1842
In 1836, Ernest and Albert visited their matrimonially eligible cousin
Princess Victoria of Kent, spending a few weeks at Windsor. Both
boys, and especially Albert were considered by his family to be a
potential husband for the young princess, and they were both taught to
speak competent English. Their father first thought that Ernest
would make a better husband to Victoria than Albert, possibly because
his sporting interests would be better received by the British
public. Most others favored Albert over Ernest as a possible
husband however. Temperamentally, Victoria was much more like Ernest,
as both were lively and sociable with a love for dancing, gossip, and
late nights; conversely, this fast pace made Albert physically
ill. Victoria believed Ernest had a "most kind, honest, and
intelligent expression in his countenance", while Albert "seemed full
of goodness and sweetness, and very clever and intelligent." No
offer of marriage was forthcoming for either brother however, and they
Ernest entered military training later that year. In April 1837,
Ernest and Albert and their household moved to the University of
Bonn. Six weeks into their academic term, Victoria succeeded as
Queen of the United Kingdom. As rumors of an impending marriage
between her and Albert interfered with their studies, the two brothers
left on 28 August 1837 at the close of the term to travel around
Europe. They returned to Bonn in early November to continue their
studies. In 1839, the brothers traveled to England again, where
Victoria found her cousin Albert agreeable and soon proposed. This
connection would have many implications upon Ernest in the future; for
instance, he was selected as godfather for Albert's second daughter
Princess Alice, and would eventually come to give her away at her
wedding, only months after Albert's death.
Ernest's wife Princess Alexandrine of Baden. Alexandrine would remain
fiercely devoted to Ernest during their marriage, believing that their
childlessness was her fault.
Various candidates were put forward as a possible wife for Ernest. His
own father wanted him to look high-up for a wife, such as a Russian
grand duchess. One possibility was Princess Clémentine of
Orléans, a daughter of Louis Philippe I, whom he met while visiting
the court at the Tuileries. Such a marriage would have required
his conversion from
Roman Catholicism however, and
consequently nothing came of it. She later married his cousin
Prince August of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha. Ernest was also considered by
Dowager Queen Maria Christina as a possible husband for her young
daughter Isabella II of Spain, and by
Queen Victoria for her
cousin Princess Augusta of Cambridge.
Karlsruhe on 3 May 1842, Ernest married 21-year-old Princess
Alexandrine of Baden. She was the eldest daughter of Leopold,
Grand Duke of Baden, and Princess Sophie of Sweden, daughter of the
deposed King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden. Though he gave his consent,
his father was disappointed that his first son did not do more to
advance the concerns of Coburg. The marriage did not produce any
issue, though Ernest apparently fathered at least three illegitimate
children in later years.
Ernest had suffered from a venereal disease in his late teens and
early twenties, most likely as the consequence of living a wild,
promiscuous lifestyle. These qualities he had inherited under the
tutelage of his father, who took his sons to "sample the pleasures" of
Paris and Berlin, to Albert's "horror and shame". Ernest had been
so visibly deteriorating in appearance as a result that Sarah
Lyttelton, a lady-in-waiting of Queen Victoria, observed at Windsor in
1839 that he was "very thin and hollow-cheeked and pale, and no
likeness to his brother, nor much beauty. But he has fine dark eyes
and black hair, and light figure, and a great look of spirit and
eagerness". Later that year, Albert counseled his brother against
finding a wife until his 'condition' was fully recovered. He
further warned that continued promiscuity could leave Ernest incapable
of fathering children. Some historians believe that while he
himself was able to father other children, the disease rendered his
young wife infertile.
As the years went by with further childlessness, Ernest became more
distant to his wife, and was continually unfaithful. Though
Alexandrine continued to be devoted, choosing to ignore those
relationships she was aware of, her loyalty became increasingly
baffling to those outside her immediate family. By 1859, after
seventeen years of childlessness, Ernest took no further interest in
Duke of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
On 29 January 1844, Ernest's father died in Gotha, one of the
territories their family had recently acquired. Ernest consequently
succeeded to the duchies of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha as Ernest II.
Development of a constitution
Extravagant to a great degree, Ernest had many money troubles
throughout his reign. In January 1848, Ernest visited his brother in
the midst of political unrest in Germany. Upon his return, he also
discovered unrest in Coburg. One of the many concerns related to
finances. Although Ernest had a large inheritance, he also had
frequent debts. There were increasing calls to nationalize most of
his property. Indeed, Albert had to intervene at one point and spare
his brother the embarrassment of losing one of his Coburg
During the 1848 turmoil in Germany, Albert had been constructing his
own liberal reform plan, under which a single monarch, chancellor, and
parliament would unite the German states; in addition, each state
would retain its own current ruling dynasty. As this plan
pertained to his brother, Ernest was given a copy in the hope that he
would develop his own liberal constitution. Ernest subsequently made a
few concessions, but his position remained sound, not counting the
increasing problem of his debts. A constitution was drafted and
promulgated in 1849 in Gotha, though one had existed in Coburg
since 1821. In 1852, both constitutions were converged into one, which
converted the personal union of the two duchies into a real union; the
duchies were now inseparable, with a common set of institutions.
During the political turmoil, timely concessions and Ernest's popular
habit of mingling with "the people in their pleasures" were
instrumental in keeping him from losing his throne. Furthermore,
various contemporary sources state that Ernest was an able, just and
very popular ruler, which may have also helped keep him in power.
See also: Schleswig-
A bust of Ernest at the Landestheater in Coburg. Ernest was a strong
enthusiast for music and plays all his life, and was the artistic
force behind many that were popular in Germany.
From 1848 to 1864,
Denmark and the
German Confederation fought over
control of the two duchies of
Schleswig and Holstein. Historically,
the duchies had been ruled by
Denmark since medieval times, but there
remained a large German majority. This majority was sparked to
rebellion after Frederick VII of
Denmark announced on 27 March 1848
the duchies would become an integral part of
Denmark under his new
Prussia soon became involved, supporting the
uprising and beginning the First
Schleswig War. Ernest sent 8,000 men
initially, adding to the army sent by the German Confederation. He
also desired to be given a military job during the war, but was
refused, as it was "extremely difficult to offer me a position in the
army of Schleswig-
Holstein corresponding to my rank", according to his
memoirs. He agreed to a smaller command, coming to lead a
Thuringian contingent; he commented in a letter to his brother that "I
should have declined any other command of the kind, but I could not
refuse this one, as, in the present condition of our States, it is
important to keep the executive power in our hands". As commander
of a German corps, Ernest was instrumental in winning the 5 April 1849
Eckernförde against Danish forces.
The first war ended in 1851, but would resume in 1864. During this
interlude, Ernest fervently opposed the marriage of his nephew Albert
Edward, Prince of Wales ('Bertie'), to Princess Alexandra of Denmark,
a daughter of the future Christian IX of
Denmark (and therefore an
enemy of the German states). He believed that such a match flew in the
face of German interests. Albert replied angrily "What has that
got to do with you?... Vicky has racked her brains to help us to find
someone, but in vain...We have no [other reasonable] choice".
Albert agreed there were going to be problems with the match, but as
he could find no alternative bride, he wrote to Ernest that keeping
the affair a private matter (and outside the realm of government) was
"the only way to prevent a break with
Prussia and the only way to keep
the game in our own hands, impose the conditions that we think
necessary, and as far as we can, take off its political edge".
Albert also warned his son of Ernest's endeavors to interfere with the
match, commenting, "Your uncle...will try his hand at this work. Your
best defence will be not to enter on the subject, should he broach
Soon after writing these letters, Prince Albert died on 14 December
1861. His death helped Ernest repair his relationship with his
sister-in-law, as Victoria had been becoming increasingly angrier over
Ernest's objections to the Danish match. The two brothers had always
been close, whatever their disagreements, and Albert's death left
Ernest "wretched", noted Victoria in a letter to her eldest
daughter. The death did not solve their argument however; seeing
that his direct involvement had failed to persuade Victoria, Ernest
tried a new tactic. He began to spread gossip about Alexandra and her
family, in which her mother, Princess Louise, "had had illegitimate
children and Alexandra had had flirtations with young officers"; he
also wrote to Louise herself, warning that Bertie would be an
unfortunate choice for a husband. Additionally, Ernest met with
his nephew at Thebes, most likely attempting to discourage him from
the match in person. In an 11 April letter, Victoria unhappily
noted to her eldest daughter, "You did not tell me that Bertie had met
Uncle Ernest at Thebes...I am always alarmed when I think of Uncle
Ernest and Bertie being together as I know the former will do all he
can to set Bertie against the marriage with Princess Alix".
Despite Ernest's disapproval, Bertie was duly married to Alexandra on
10 March 1863.
During the American Civil War, the Duke assigned
Ernst Raven to the
position of consul in the state of Texas. Raven applied to the
Confederate Government for a diplomatic exequatur on 30 July 1861 and
Nomination for the Greek throne
A coin depicting Ernest II, 1869. It was issued to commemorate the
twenty-fifth year of his reign.
On 23 October 1862, Otto of Bavaria, King of Greece, was deposed in a
bloodless coup. The Greeks were eager to have someone close to Britain
Queen Victoria replace Otto; some desired to allow Prince Alfred,
Duke of Edinburgh (her second son), succeed as King of Greece. He
was elected with 95% of the vote in the Greek head of state referendum
of 1862. After his ineligibility was confirmed however, the Greeks
began looking for other possible candidates, which included Duke
Ernest at the British government's suggestion. To their and
Victoria's reasoning, if Ernest were to take the Greek throne, Alfred
could immediately take up his inheritance and succeed Ernest as duke
(the Prince of Wales having passed his claim to the duchy of
Coburg and Gotha onto his younger brother). Many were in
favor of his nomination, including Prime Minister
Lord Palmerston and
Ernest's sister-in-law. In a letter written to her uncle Leopold I of
Belgium, Victoria stated her support for a new royal branch of the
House of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha (as Leopold had been chosen as King of
the Belgians in 1831), as well as her desire for her second son,
Alfred, to succeed his uncle in the duchy. As negotiations
continued however, she began to lose enthusiasm for the idea.
There were problems to the nomination; Ernest had no children, and
thus would have had to adopt one of the princes of his house to
succeed him as King of Greece. To solve this problem, Ernest suggested
to Palmerston that he simply take the title Regent of Greece and hold
the kingdom in trust for his chosen heir. He also stipulated that
if he accepted the throne, it should be subject to certain guarantees
by the other powers. The apparent deal-breaker however was the fact
that Ernest wanted to acquire the Greek throne and still maintain
control of his "safer" duchies. In the end, the British cabinet
thought the proposed conditions unacceptable. His proposals turned
down, Ernest in turn refused. In 1863, the Greek throne was accepted
by another member of a royal family: the Princess of Wales' younger
brother Prince William of Denmark. Ernest would later comment, "That
this cup was spared me, I always regarded as a piece of good
Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian Wars
Austro-Prussian War and Franco-Prussian War
Ernest, like his brother, was in favor of a German unified, federal
state. To best realize this goal, Ernest liked to dabble in
whatever political system promised the most success. He
subsequently watched the growth of liberalism in Germany with much
interest and tried to build links with the movement's leaders. During
Albert's lifetime, Ernest took a close interest in the movement for
reform, and was perceived as a progressive within Germany. His
favorable view of liberalism caused his duchy to become an asylum for
political refugees from other German states. In 1863, he attended
the liberal Frankfurt Conference, which was openly avoided by more
conservative Prussia. Though his attendance made him no friends in
Prussia, he developed such strong contacts in Austria that many looked
to him as a potential leader in the mounting conflict between the
northern and southern powers. He grew tired of the advice he
received from Albert on the subject however; as Ernest "was by no
means inclined to consent to an energetic rule such as I adopted
immediately afterwards for the perfection of the constitutional
system", according to Albert's letters.
Austro-Prussian War was triggered by the desire of German
conservative leaders to unify, albeit on different terms than their
liberal counterparts. Ernest urged Prussian leaders against the
impending war, and was an active advocate of the Austrian cause.
Though Ernest normally followed more liberal politics than many of his
counterparts, he began switching his views to align more closely with
Prussian Minister President
Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck by the mid-1860s.
Despite this change in his private political views, he still had
strong publicly known Austrian ties, and no one foresaw that Ernest
would immediately side with the better-equipped Prussians upon
breakout of the war. His reasoning is usually understood as acting
in the best interests of his duchies, and by extension, of
himself. Regardless, it was seen as a betrayal of former friends;
Queen Victoria commented that Ernest "might have agreed to neutrality
- for that might be necessary, but to change colours I cannot think
Ernest was fortunate in his support of victorious Prussia; many other
petty German dukes, princes, and kings who had supported Austria
suffered immensely at
Hohenzollern hands. Hanover, Hesse-Kassel, and
Nassau for instance were all annexed to
Prussia at the expense of
their respective rulers. Though he had only recently changed his
political views, Ernest was allowed to ride at the head of his
battalion during the victory parade. His eldest niece Prussian Crown
Princess Victoria ("Vicky") was for one pleased with his Prussian
support and commented "I am not accustomed to hearing so much praise
Coburg here. [Ernest] was not among the crushed and beaten foe, it
is sad enough as it is to see so many of one's friends suffering from
the effects of their miscalculations". Victoria's husband Crown
Prince Frederick was also pleased with Ernest's decision, writing in
his journal 28 September 1871, that the duke's "society always affords
me peculiar pleasure, especially...when his heart beats so warmly for
Ernest's support of the Prussians in the
Austro-Prussian War and later
Franco Prussian War
Franco Prussian War meant he was no longer the potential leader of a
political movement; although it was true that he had been able to
retain his duchies, it had come at a price. According to historian
Charlotte Zeepvat, Ernest "was increasingly lost in a whirl of private
amusements which earned only contempt from outside". Ernest
funneled his political thoughts into the private sphere, preferring to
write covertly sponsored articles in the
Coburg press that became
increasingly embittered against England. In 1886, Ernest published
Co-Regents and Foreign Influence in Germany, a pamphlet that greatly
angered his family; though produced anonymously, no one doubted that
it was written by Ernest. It attacked Vicky as a disloyal German that
was too dependent on her mother, and declared that she had been too
indiscreet in passing along confidential information during both war
Queen Victoria was furious, writing to Vicky, "What
you told me of Uncle E and that pamphlet is simply monstrous. I assure
you that I felt great difficulty in writing to him for his birthday,
but I wrote it as short and cool as I could consistently with
civility". "Dear Uncle Ernest does us all a great deal of harm by
his odd ways and uncontrollable tongue with his very lively
An equestrian statue of Ernest in the Hofgarten, Coburg. In the 1850s,
Ernest dramatically transformed the Hofgarten into an English
landscape garden. It opened on 27 April 1857 to the public. The statue
was constructed in 1899 in order to commemorate Ernest's
Later in his reign, Ernest's actions managed to continually anger his
sister-in-law. Though Victoria loved Ernest because he was Albert's
brother, she was displeased that Ernest was writing his memoirs,
worrying about their contents mainly in regard to her dead
husband. Despite their disputes, Ernest still met with Victoria
and her family occasionally. In 1891, they met in France; Victoria's
lady-in-waiting commented "the old Duke of
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha has been
here today with his wife. He is the Prince Consort's only brother and
an awful looking man, the Queen dislikes him particularly. He is
always writing anonymous pamphlets against the Queen and the Empress
Frederick, which naturally creates a great deal of annoyance in the
Throughout his reign, Ernest had been known for his extravagance and
womanizing; as he grew older, Ernest enjoyed gossip and was "now a
thoroughly disreputable old roué who enjoyed the outrage provoked by
his actions", leading Vicky to declare that her uncle "was his own
enemy". His behavior and manner of dress increasingly became a
joke for younger generations. His great-niece Marie of Edinburgh
would later describe Ernest as "an old beau, squeezed into a
frock-coat too tight for his bulk and uncomfortably pinched in at the
waist', sporting a top hat, lemon coloured gloves, and a rosebud in
his lapel". He put on weight and though on paper his wealth was
large, he was still constantly in debt.
An excellent musician and amateur composer all his life, Ernest
was a great patron of the arts and sciences in Coburg, often
giving awards and titles to members of the artistic and scientific
world, such as Paul Kalisch, a German opera singer
and the English chemist William Ernest Bush. Ernest composed songs,
hymns, and cantatas, as well as musical pieces for opera and the
stage, including Die Gräberinsel (1842), Tony, oder die Vergeltung
(1849), Casilda (1851), Santa Chiara (1854), and Zaïre, which met
with success in Germany. He could also draw and play the
piano. One of his operas,
Diana von Solange
Diana von Solange (1858), prompted Franz
Liszt the following year to write an orchestral Festmarsch nach
Motiven von E. H. z. S.-C.-G., S.116 (E. H. z. S.-C.-G. was short for
Ernst Herzog zu Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha). However, its production at
Metropolitan Opera in
New York City
New York City in 1890 inspired dismal
reviews, with one spectator commenting that its "music was simply
rubbish". Ernest was also an avid hunter and sportsman; one
contemporary remarked that he was "one of the foremost and keenest
sportsman produced by the present century". In addition, Ernest
was an enthusiastic patron of everything connected with natural
history, for instance traveling to Abyssinia with the German
Alfred Brehm in 1862.
Ernest II died at
Reinhardsbrunn on 22 August 1893 after a short
illness. A lifelong sportsman, his last words were apparently "Let
the drive commence!" His funeral was held in the Morizkirche in
Coburg; thousands of spectators came to the funeral, including Emperor
Wilhelm II and the Prince of Wales. He is buried in the ducal
mausoleum in the Friedhof am Glockenberg (de) which he himself
had built in 1853–58.:47
Ernest was succeeded by his nephew Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.
Inheritance to Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
Ernest's heir-presumptive Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.
For much of Ernest's reign, the heir presumptive to Saxe-
Gotha was his only sibling Prince Albert, consort of Queen
Victoria. When it became increasingly more clear that Ernest would
be childless, the possibility of a personal union between his duchies
United Kingdom became real, a reality that was deemed
Special arrangements were made by a combination of
constitutional clauses and renunciations to pass Ernest's throne to a
son of Albert while preventing a personal union. Consequently,
Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, his brother's second eldest son, was
designated the childless Ernest's heir presumptive, when his older
brother, the Prince of Wales (later
Edward VII of the United Kingdom),
renounced his succession rights.
Issues arose over authority to control the upbringing of his
heir-presumptive. As head of the
Coburg family, Ernest would normally
have been able to arrange Alfred's education and general upbringing
unchallenged. This however was not the case. Alfred was torn
between his British birth and his German inheritance. This was partly
because Alfred was second-in-line to the
United Kingdom until the
birth of his nephew Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and
Avondale, in 1864. One example of the many problems of his education
concerned the language he would speak. Although he grew up learning
German, his native language was decided to be English. In addition, a
naval career was chosen for Alfred, a common profession for a British
prince but almost unheard of for a German prince. Ernest also
wanted Alfred to be educated in Coburg, but his brother refused.
Albert's refusal most likely stemmed from the negative British
reaction that would have inevitably occurred and the fact that Albert
was fearful of Alfred's moral development. Thus, despite Ernest's
protests, he went unheeded in Albert's lifetime. In 1863, Ernest told
Victoria that it was time for Alfred to leave the navy and enter a
German university. By March of the following year, it was decided that
Alfred would attend
Bonn University but be left to consider his
future, as he was having reservations over permanently residing
outside England. The matter was eventually resolved; Alfred came
to accept his inheritance, and Victoria understood and accepted that
Ernest needed to be involved in the upbringing of his
heir-presumptive, with a strong German element added to his education
and (carefully chaperoned) visits to Coburg.
Titles, styles, honours, and arms
Titles and styles
Coat of arms of Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
21 June 1818 – 12 November 1826: His Serene Highness The Hereditary
Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
12 November 1826 – 29 January 1844: His Highness The Hereditary
Prince of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
29 January 1844 – 22 August 1893: His Highness The Duke of
Coburg and Gotha
Coburg and Gotha
KJ: Knight of St. Joachim
Joint Grand Master of the Order of the Ernestine House of
Master Mason, 1857
Belgium: Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold in 1839.
KG: Knight of the Garter, 1844
Recipient of the
Iron Cross of 1870, 1st and 2nd class
Ancestors of Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
16. Francis Josias, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
8. Ernest Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
17. Princess Anna Sophie of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
4. Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
18. Ferdinand Albert II, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
9. Duchess Sophia Antonia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
19. Duchess Antoinette Amalie of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel-Blankenburg
2. Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
20. Henry XXIX, Count Reuss of Ebersdorf
10. Henry XXIV, Count Reuss of Ebersdorf
21. Countess Sophie Theodora of Castell-Remlingen
5. Countess Augusta Reuss of Ebersdorf
22. George Augustus, Count of Erbach-Schönberg
11. Countess Karoline Ernestine of Erbach-Schönberg
23. Ferdinande Henriette, Countess of Stolberg-Gedern
1. Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
24. Frederick III, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
12. Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
25. Princess Luise Dorothea of Saxe-Meiningen
6. Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
26. Anton Ulrich, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen
13. Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen
27. Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Philippsthal
3. Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
28. Duke Louis of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
14. Frederick Francis I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
29. Princess Charlotte Sophie of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
7. Duchess Louise Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
30. Prince John August of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
15. Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
31. Countess Luise Reuss of Schleiz
List of Knights and Ladies of the Garter
List of members of the House of Wettin
List of famous big game hunters
^ Grey, p. 29 and Weintraub, p. 21.
^ a b c d e François Velde. "House Laws of the Saxe-
Gotha". Heraldica.org. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
^ Grey, pp. 32-33.
^ Grey, p. 35.
^ Hough, p. 9.
^ a b Weintraub, p. 30.
^ Grey, p. 44.
^ Weintraub, pp. 23-25.
^ Weintraub, p. 25-28.
^ Feuchtwanger, pp. 29-31.
^ Packard, p. 16 and Weintraub, pp. 40–41.
^ Weintraub, pp. 25–28.
^ Feuchtwanger, p. 37.
^ a b Weintraub, p. 49.
^ D'Auvergne, p. 164.
^ a b c d e Zeepvat, p. 1.
^ Feuchtwanger, pp. 35-36.
^ Weintraub, p. 58-59.
^ Feuchtwanger, pp. 38-39.
^ Packard, p. 104.
^ a b c d e f g h i j Zeepvat, p. 2.
^ a b c Feuchtwanger, p. 62; Gill, pp. 142-43.
^ a b c Weintraub, p. 52.
^ D'Auvergne, pp. 188-89.
^ a b c Gill, p. 143.
^ Zeepvat, p. 2 and Lundy.
^ Zeepvat, pp. 2, 5.
^ a b Zeepvat, p. 3.
^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica. "Ernest II". Britannica.com. Retrieved
16 November 2010.
^ a b c Coit Gilman et al, p. 841.
^ Baillie-Grohman, p. 60 and Kenning, pp. 204-05.
Coburg and Gotha, Volume 1, p. 48. A letter written to him by
his servant Von Stein states that while there were many candidates who
could take command of parts of the army, there was only one Duke,
hinting that Ernest was needed to continue promulgating the German
Constitution in his duchy.
Coburg and Gotha, Volume 1, p. 50.
^ Coit Gilman et al, p. 841 and Alden, Berry, Bogart et al, p. 481.
^ Zeepvat, p. 3 and Hibbert, p. 43.
^ Hibbert, p. 42.
^ a b quoted in Zeepvat, p. 3.
^ Hibbert, p. 43.
^ Hibbert, p. 57.
^ Zeepvat, p. 3 and Hibbert, p. 57.
^ 58th Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Document No. 234, Journal of the
Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861–1865, Volume 5
(Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1905), page 422
^ D'Auvergne, pp. 269-270 and Zeepvat, p. 4.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Zeepvat, p. 4.
^ a b D'Auvergne, p. 271.
^ D'Auvergne, p. 272.
^ Zeepvat, p. 2 and Coit Gilman et al, p. 841.
^ Zeepvat, p. 4 and Alden, Berry, Bogart et al, p. 481.
^ Alden, Berry, Bogart et al, p. 481.
^ quoted in Zeepvat, p. 2.
^ Pakula, p. 241 and Zeepvat, p. 5.
^ Allinson, p. 139.
^ Zeepvat, p. 5. Victoria wrote in 1873, "The accounts of Uncle
Ernest's conduct are too distressing", and two weeks later to her
Vicky, "What you say about Uncle E. alas! alas! is what I have heard
from but too many and is most painful and humiliating. Really one
cannot go to
Coburg when Uncle is there".
^ a b c d Zeepvat, p. 5.
^ a b Zeepvat, p. 6 and Feuchtwanger, p. 209.
^ a b c Zeepvat, p. 6.
^ quoted in Zeepvat, p. 6.
^ "Obituary". The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular. 34 (607):
539–540. 1893. JSTOR 3363520.
^ Weintraub, p. 50 and The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular,
^ Grove's Dictionary of Music, 5th ed, 1954, Liszt: Works, p. 275
^ "Amusements", The New York Times, The
Metropolitan Opera House, 10
^ a b c Baillie-Grohman, p. 60.
^ Zeepvat, p. 6 and Baillie-Grohman, p. 60.
^ "Buried in the Moritzkirche", The New York Times, Coburg, 29 August
^ Klüglein, Norbert (1991).
Coburg Stadt und Land (German).
^ Kenning, pp. 204-05.
^ Le livre d'or de l'ordre de Léopold et de la croix de fer, Volume 1
^ Allinson, p. 112.
Baillie-Grohman, William Adolph (1896). Sport in the Alps in the Past
and Present: An Account of the Chase of the Chamois, Red-deer,
Bouquetin, Roe-deer, Capercaillie, and Black-cock, with Personal
References and Historical Notes and Some Sporting Reminisces of H.R.H.
the Late Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. London: Scribner.
Coburg and Gotha, Duke Ernest II of (1888). Memoirs of Ernest II:
Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. London: Remington & Co.
Publishers. , four volumes.
Alden, Raymond; George Berry; Ernest I. Bogart; et al. (1918). The
Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge, Volume 10.
New York: The Encyclopedia Americana Corporation.
Allinson, A.R. (2006). The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick III -
1870 - 1871. Home Farm Books. ISBN 1-4067-9995-5.
Berwanger, Eugene H. (1994). The British Foreign Service and the
American Civil War. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.
Coit Gilman, Daniel; Harry Thurston Peck; Frank Moore Colby (1903).
The New International Encyclopædia, Volume 6. New York: Dodd, Mead,
D'Auvergne, Edmund Basil (1911). The Coburgs: The Story of the Rise of
a Great Royal House. New York: James Pott & Company.
Feuchtwanger, E.J. (2006). Albert and Victoria: The Rise and Fall of
the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. London: Hambledon Continuum.
Gill, Gillian (2009). We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners,
Rivals. New York: Ballatine Books. ISBN 0-345-52001-7.
Grey, Hon. Charles (1868). The Early Years of His Royal Highness The
Prince Consort. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers.
Hibbert, Christopher (2007). Edward VII: The Last Victorian King. New
York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hough, Richard (1996). Victoria and Albert. New York: St. Martin's
Griffin. ISBN 0-312-30385-8.
Kenning, George (1878). Kenning's Masonic Encyclopedia and Handbook of
Masonic Archeology, History and Biography. London: Kessinger
Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-6526-4.
Packard, Jerome M. (1998). Victoria's Daughters. New York: St.
Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-24496-7.
Pakula, Hannah (1997). An Uncommon Woman: The Empress Frederick,
Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia,
Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg
Biography of Ernest II at the German National Library. (in German)
Biography of Ernest II at the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. (in
Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
House of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 21 June 1818 Died: 22 August 1893
Duke of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
29 January 1844 – 22 August 1893
Princes of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
The generations are numbered from the union of Saxe-
Saxe-Saalfeld in 1699
Christian Ernst II*
Prince Wilhelm Frederick*
Prince Karl Ernst*
Prince Johann Wilhelm
Prince Christian Franz
Prince Karl Wilhelm
Prince Ludwig Karl
Prince Ferdinand August
Leopold I of Belgium**
Prince Franz Maximilian
Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha**
Albert, Prince Consort
Albert, Prince Consort of the United Kingdom**
Ferdinand II of Portugal**
* prince of
Saxe-Saalfeld until 1699
** became prince of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha in 1826
Princes of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
Duke Francis I
King Leopold I of the Belgians^
Albert, Prince Consort
Albert, Prince Consort of the United Kingdom^*
King Fernando II of Portugal^¶
Crown Prince Louis Philippe#
King Leopold II#
Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders#
King Edward VII*
Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn*
Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany*
King Pedro V¶
King Luís I¶
Infante João, Duke of Beja¶
Infante Augusto, Duke of Coimbra¶
Prince Ludwig August
Tsar Ferdinand I of the Bulgarians†
Prince Leopold, Duke of Brabant#
King Albert I#
Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale*
King George V*
Prince Alexander John of Wales*
Hereditary Prince Alfred*
Prince Arthur of Connaught*
Charles Edward I*
King Carlos I¶
Infante Afonso, Duke of Porto¶
Prince Leopold Clement
Prince Pedro Augusto1
Prince August Leopold1
Prince Joseph Ferdinand1
Prince Ludwig Gaston1
Tsar Boris III†
Kiril, Prince of Preslav†
King Leopold III#
Prince Charles, Count of Flanders#
King Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor*
King George VI*
Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester*
Prince George, Duke of Kent*
Prince Alastair of Connaught*
Hereditary Prince Johann Leopold*
Friedrich Josias, Prince of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
Luís Filipe, Prince Royal¶
King Manuel II¶
Prince August Clemens
Tsar Simeon II†
King Baudouin I#
King Albert II#
Andreas, Prince of Saxe-
Coburg and Gotha
Prince Johannes Heinrich
Kardam, Prince of Turnovo†
Kyril, Prince of Preslav†
Kubrat, Prince of Panagyurishte†
Konstantin-Assen, Prince of Vidin†
Hereditary Prince Hubertus
Boris, Prince of Turnovo†
Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld until 1826 *also a prince of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland #also a prince of Belgium
¶also a member of the Portuguese royal family †also a member of the
Bulgarian royal family
Bulgarian royal family 1also a member of the Brazilian imperial family
ISNI: 0000 0001 0911 4248
BNF: cb13776475p (data)