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Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein
Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (22 January 1831 - 28 October 1917) was a minor German prince who became a member of the British Royal Family through his marriage to Princess Helena (25 May 1846 - 9 June 1923), the third daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
His Serene Highness Prince Frederic Christian Charles Augustus, KG, PC was born in Augustenberg, the third son of Duke Charles August of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenberg and Countess Luise of Danneskjold-Samsøe. He was always known as Prince Christian. In 1848, his father, Duke Charles August, placed himself at the head of a movement to resist by force the claims of Denmark upon the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, two personal possessions of the kings of Denmark which were also part of the German Confederation. A year earlier, King Frederick VII acceded to the Danish throne without any hope of producing a male heir. Unlike Denmark proper, where the Lex Regia of 1665 allowed the throne to pass through the female royal line, in Holstein Salic Law prevailed. The duchy would most likely revert to the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenberg family, a cadet branch of the house of Holstein-Sonderburg. During the 1852 Schleswig-Holstein War, Prince Christian briefly served with the newly constituted Schleswig-Holstein army before he and his family were forced to flee the advancing Danish forces (see history of Schleswig-Holstein). After the war, he attended the University of Bonn, where he befriended Crown Prince Friedrich of Prussia (later the German Emperor Friedrich III).
In September 1865, while visiting Coburg, Princess Helena of Great Britain met Prince Christian. The couple became engaged in December of that year. Queen Victoria gave her permission for the marriage with the proviso that the couple live in England. They married at the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on 5 July 1866. Seven days before the wedding, the Queen granted her future son-in-law the qualification of Royal Highness. This style was in effect in Great Britain, not Germany were Prince Christian, as a son of the Duke of Augustenburg, was only entited to the style Serene Highness.1
Their Royal Highnessess Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, as they were known, made their home at Frogmore House in the grounds of Windsor Castle and later at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park . They had six children:
- Prince Christian Victor (14 August 1867 - 29 October 1900)
- Prince Albert (28 February 1869 - 13 March 1931)
- Princess Helena Victoria (3 May 1870 - 13 March 1948).
- Princess Marie Louise (12 August 1872 - 8 December 1956).
- Prince Harald (12 May 1876 - 20 May 1876).
- An unnamed still-born son (7 May 1877).
Queen Victoria appointed Prince Christian a Knight of the Garter and a member of the Privy Council. The Prince became a personal aide-de-camp to the Queen in 1897. Prince Christian became a major general in the British Army in July 1866 and received promotions to the ranks of lieutenant general in August 1874 and general in October 1877. From 1869 until his death, he was honorary colonel of the 1st Volunteer Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment. However, Prince Christian never held a major field command or staff position.
During World War I, rising anti-German sentiment forced the British Royal Family to sever its links to Germany and to discontinue the use of various German titles and styles. In July 1917, King George V changed the name of the British Royal House to the House of Windsor and discontinued for himself and all other descendants of Queen Victoria who were British subjects all "other German Degrees, Styles, Dignities, Titles, Honours and Appellations." Prince and Princess Christian and their two daughters dropped the territorial designation "of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderberg-Augustenberg" and instead became known as Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Christian, Her Highness Princess Marie Louise, and Her Highness Princess Helena Victoria, respectively.
Prince Christian died at Schomberg House, Pall Mall, in October 1917, in his eighty-seventh year. He was buried at Frogmore Royal Burial Ground in Windsor Great Park.
1 The children of Prince and Princess Christian would have borne the titles of Prince or Princess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderberg-Augustenberg with the style Serene Highness. This was in accordance with both the house laws of the Ducal House of Augustenberg and English common law, whereby children take the surname and rank of their father, not their mother. Queen Victoria granted the children of Prince and Princess Christian the style of Highness in May 1867. Nonetheless, they remained Princes and Princesses of Schleswig-Holstein and the style of Highness was only in effect in Great Britain.
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