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Home-Loney-Background-The Royal Navy-Obituaries

The following obituary for Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Alfred Ernest Albert Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) appeared in the Times newspaper.

Obituary from the Times newspaper
1 August 1900



The news of the death of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was received in London yesterday morning and called forth universal expressions of sincere sorrow and of sympathy with the Queen, the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and the other members of the Royal Family. Outward signs of mourning were not wanting, and flags were hoisted at half-mast over the Government offices, and other public buildings, as well as over many clubs and institutions in all parts of London.

The intelligence of his Royal Highness's death was conveyed to the Lord Mayor by the Home Secretary in the following communication:-

Whitehall, July 31, 1900.

My Lord,- It is with great concern that I have to inform your lordship of the death of his Royal Highness the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., second son of her Majesty the Queen, which took place last night at Rosenau Castle, to the great grief of her Majesty and the Royal Family.
I have to request that your lordship will give directions for the tolling of the great bell of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
I have the honour to be, my lord, your lordship's obedient servant,
M.W. Ridley.
The Right Hon. the Lord Mayor of London.

The great bell of St. Paul’s was tolled by the Lord Mayor’s directions during the forenoon,and the Royal Standard floated at half-mast over the Mansion-house during the day.

1 August 1900

(From the London Gazette.)
July 31, 1900.

Orders for the Court’s going into Mourning on Thursday next, the 2nd August, for His late Royal Highness The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., second Son of Her Majesty The Queen, viz:-
The Ladies to wear black Dresses, white Gloves, black or white Shoes, Feathers, and Fans, Pearls, Diamonds, or plain gold or silver Ornaments.
The Gentlemen to wear black Court Dress, with black Swords and Buckles.
The Court to change the Mourning on Thursday, the 23rd August, viz.:-
The Ladies to wear black Dresses, with coloured Ribbons, Flowers, Feathers, and Ornaments, or grey or white Dresses, with black Ribbons, Flowers, Feathers, and Ornaments.
The Gentlemen to continue the same Mourning.
And on Thursday, 13th September next, the Court to go out of Mourning.

The following Order has been promulgated to the Army with the approval of the Secretary of State for War:-
The Commander-in-Chief has received the Queen’s commands to direct, on the present melancholy occasion of the death of Admiral of the Fleet His Royal Highness Alfred Ernest Albert, Reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Duke of Edinburgh), K.G., K.T., K.P., G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E., G.C.V.O., Personal Aide-de-Camp to the Queen, Honorary Colonel of the Royal Marines, Second Son of Her Majesty, that the Officers of the Army be required to wear when in uniform a band of black crape round the left arm, as prescribed by the regulations.
The mourning will commence from the 2nd August and be continued until the 13th September next.

Our Portsmouth Correspondent says that naval and marine officers are ordered to go into mourning to-day for six weeks.

1 August 1900


Alfred, reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Ulster and of Kent, Duke of Jülich, Cleve, and Berg, of Engern and of Westphalia, Landgrave in Thuringia, Margrave of Meissen, Count of the Principality of Henneberg, Count of Mark and of Ravensberg, and Lord of Ravenstein and of Tonna, was the second son and the fourth child of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Of the nine children born to her Majesty six now survive, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Connaught being the only sons left to their widowed mother.

Prince Alfred was born at Windsor Castle on August 6, 1844, at a time when the Queen and the Prince Consort were still full of anxiety over the strained relations with France arising out of the indignities offered by French officials in Tahiti to Mr. Pritchard, the British Consul there. Indeed, in her first letter to King Leopold after her confinement the Queen wrote:- "The only thing almost to mar our happiness is the heavy and threatening cloud which hangs over our relations with. France." The young Prince was christened on September 6 following in the private chapel at Windsor, receiving the names of Alfred Ernest Albert. His sponsors were Prince George of Cambridge, represented by his father, the Duke of Cambridge, the Prince of Leiningen, represented by the Duke of Wellington, and the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, represented by the Duchess of Kent. The Prince of Prussia, afterwards the Emperor William I., who was then on a visit to England, was present at the ceremony. The Queen and Prince Albert devoted much careful consideration to the question of their second son's career. He was educated at the Universities of Bonn and Edinburgh. It was decided in 1856 that he should have a separate establishment and should be placed under a governor, who should superintend his studies for the Navy - the profession which he had himself chosen. Obviously everything depended on the person selected to be Prince Alfred's governor, and upon that point Prince Albert wrote to Baron Stockmar as follows:-
The latest news I have to give you about ourselves is that I have succeeded in getting a distinguished and most amiable young officer of Engineers as Affie's tutor, one Lieutenant Cowell, who was adjutant of Sir Harry Jones at Bomarsund and before Sebastopol, and is well spoken of by everybody. He is only 23, and has had the highest scientific training. By this a great load has been taken off my heart. Cowell comes to us at once to learn the working of our system, and will afterwards take up his quarters with Affie at the Royal Lodge in Windsor Park at Ascot time.

It was the beginning for Lieutenant Cowell of a long connexion with the Court. He became Sir John Cowell, Master of the Household, a major-general, and a Privy Councillor, while Lady Cowell was an extra bedchamber woman to the Queen.

Writing again to Baron Stockmar in October, 1857, Prince Albert says:- "Alfred goes to AlverbankExternal link, near Portsmouth, when we get back [i.e., from Balmoral to Windsor]." Alverbank, which was quite a cottage, had been formerly the residence of the Right Hon. John Wilson Croker, and there, under the care of the Rev. W.R. Jolly, Prince Alfred continued his naval studies. In Prince Albert's letters to the Queen we have occasional glimpses of their son's life at Alverbank. Writing from Coburg in June, 1858, the Prince says he is glad that the Queen had gone to see Prince Alfred at Alverbank and had enjoyed her visit, and the affectionate father adds a sentence, peculiarly interesting in view of later events:- "Tell Affie that he is much talked about here, and that the people have taken a great fancy to him."

The result of the young Prince's industry was in every way creditable both to him and to his governor, and the facts cannot be better recorded than in the Queen’s own words. In August, 1858, the Queen and her consort, returning home from Germany, arrived at Portsmouth, where "Sir George Seymour gave us the delightful news that Affie had passed an excellent examination, and received his appointment. He had just gone to report himself on board the Euryalus, and would meet us at Osborne." It is a charming picture of the lad, meeting his parents at the private pier, "in his middie's jacket, cap, and dirk, half blushing, and looking very happy. He is a little pulled down from these three days' hard examination, which only terminated to-day... We felt very proud, as it is a particularly hard examination." The total percentage of clear and complete answers given by the Prince was 80, while 50 would have been considered very good. Writing to Lord Derby, Prince Albert said:- "I send you Prince Alfred’s examination papers, which may, perhaps, interest you. He solved the mathematical problems almost all without fault, and did the translations without a dictionary." To which Lord Derby replied:- "As I looked over them [the papers], I could not but feel very grateful that no such examination was necessary to qualify her Majesty’s Ministers for their offices, as it would very seriously increase the difficulty of framing an Administration." Prince Albert tells Baron Stockmar in the following December:- "Our son Alfred writes from Malta, and has by this time sailed for Tunis and Algiers. He is received everywhere with great cordiality; in Malta with 'reverence and loyalty,' according to the Governor's report."

The Prince attained his majority in August, 1865, and in the following February Parliament granted him £15,000 a year, payable from the day on which he attained his majority, with an additional £10,000 a year on his marriage. His creation as Duke of Edinburgh and Earl of Ulster and of Kent distinguished the birthday honours of that year, and in June he took his seat in the House of Lords. The customary distinctions accorded to a Prince of the Blood were also conferred on him. He was sworn in as Master of the Trinity House in March, 1866, and he received the freedom of the City of London in the following June. He received at various times honorary degrees from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh. The Queen conferred on him the Knighthoods of the Garter, the Thistle, and St. Patrick, as well as the Grand Crosses of the Bath, the Star of India, St. Michael and St. George, the Indian Empire, and the Royal Victorian Order. In addition he possessed all the principal foreign orders, such as the Black Eagle, the Golden Fleece, the Annunziata, the Legion of Honour, St. Stephen of Austria, St. Andrew of Russia, and the Osmanieh. He was hon. colonel of the Edinburgh Artillery, the Royal Marines, the 3rd Black Watch, and the 84th Austro-Hungarian Infantry Regiment. On his naval career, the strongest interest of his life, we publish a special estimate.

That the Prince was taught to regard his first visit to one of the great Colonies of the Empire as something more than a mere ordinary incident of travel may be gathered from the followings extract from a letter written by his father to Baron Stockmar on April 27, 1860:-
Alfred leaves us on Thursday next to make his long voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, by way of Rio Janeiro. It will be a strange and noteworthy circumstance, that almost in the same week in which the elder brother is to open tie great bridge across the St. Lawrence in Canada, the younger will lay the foundation-stone of the breakwater for the harbour of Cape Town at the other end of the world. What a cheering picture is here of the progress and expansion of the British race, and of the useful co-operation of the Royal Family in the civilization which England has developed and advanced! In both these young colonies our children are looked for with great affection and conscious national pride.

Prince Alfred arrived, at Simons Bay in the Euryalus on July 24, I860. On board ship he was treated exactly as an ordinary midshipman, Royal honours being only accorded to him when on shore. On the 25th the Prince landed and went on to Cape Town, where he was received with marked enthusiasm, the streets being gaily decorated and the populace turning, out in vast numbers to welcome him. The Prince remained in Cape Town till August 2, when he re-embarked with Sir George Grey, the Governor, who was to conduct him on his tour through the colony; Algoa Bay and Port Elizabeth were visited, as well as other places of importance in the colony, in Kaffraria, Natal, and the Orange Free State. Everywhere his Royal Highness was received with loyal enthusiasm. Among the Prince Consort's papers was afterwards found a passage from a letter written by Sir George Grey to a private friend, dated King Williams Town, August 13, which runs as follows:-
Nothing can be more gratifying than everything connected with Prince Alfred's journeys here. He is a noble young fellow, full of life and fun. He is received everywhere with transports of delight. He rides as far and as fast as I can myself, delights in every style of life, wins the hearts of all the native chiefs, gladdens the Europeans by the interest he takes in their prosperity, and by the good influence he exercises over the natives, as also by turning out in dress and even minute articles of equipment a thorough South African sportsman.

Prince Alfred embarked at Port Natal on September 6 on his return to Cape Town. He found on board the Euryalus Sandilli, chief of the Gaika tribe, with ten of his councillors, who had been reluctantly persuaded to visit Cape Town. They afterwards told Sir George Grey that the most admirable of the many things they saw was the sight of a number of hardy bare-footed lads assisting at daybreak in washing the decks, superintending whom with activity and energy was the son of the Queen of England. In a letter to Captain Tarleton, of the Euryalus, they observed:-
But one thing we understand, the reason of England's greatness. When the son of her great Queen becomes subject to a subject, that he may learn wisdom, when the sons of England's chiefs and nobles leave the homes and wealth of their fathers, and with their young Prince endure hardships and sufferings in order that they may be wise and become a defence to their country, when we beheld these things, we see why the English are a great and mighty nation.

On September 17 Prince Alfred tilted into the sea the first load of stones for the breakwater in Table Bay, and this brought the visit to a close. Sir George Grey received, in addition to the usual official expression of thanks, a personal letter from the Queen conveying the gratitude of her Majesty and Prince Albert for the "very great kindness" shown to their son, and concluding:-
She trusts that the effect produced on the nation and people in general will be as lasting and beneficial as it must be on Prince Alfred to have witnessed the manner in which Sir George Grey devotes his whole time and energy to promote the happiness and welfare of his fellow creatures.

Prince Alfred returned home from a cruise in the West Indies on August 18, 1861, and immediately accompanied his parents on their visit to Ireland.

There occurred in the following year an event which might have altered the whole course of the Prince's life and affected, possibly, in no small measure the political history of Europe. King Otho of Greece had to fly from Athens before a revolutionary movement brought on quite as much by his own misgovernment and incompetence as by the natural unruliness of his subjects, and Prince Alfred was spontaneously and enthusiastically elected to the vacant Throne, "the whole Greek nation," to quote Finlay, "having simultaneously and in the most distant quarters of the East proclaimed his candidature before either politicians or diplomatists had time to act... When after the revolution a strong desire was felt to possess free institutions, it was natural for the Greeks to seek in a son of Queen Victoria a King who could both govern constitutionally and make the law respected." Prince Alfred was, moreover, already personally known in Greece, where his ship had only a short while before visited the Piraeus. But it had been agreed by Great Britain, France, and Russia, in a convention concluded in February, 1832, that no member of the Royal families of any of those Powers should be eligible, and the election of Prince Alfred was consequently invalid.

Early in 1867 the Duke of Edinburgh received the command of the frigate Galatea, and visited many foreign countries. In Australia the Duke met with a particularly loyal reception, which was redoubled when an Irishman named O’Farrell made a dastardly attempt to assassinate him at a picnic held at Clontarf, near Port Jackson, New South Wales, on March 12, 1868. The criminal attempted to shoot the Duke with a pistol, but only succeeded in wounding him slightly in the back. O'Farrell was put on his trial, convicted, and executed in the following month.

His Royal Highness next visited Japan, where he was received with high honour by the Mikado, as well as China and India, and in 1873 the Duke visited Italy and, after being most cordially received by the Royal family, had an audience of the Pope on April 20.

The Duke's engagement to the Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna, only daughter of the Tsar Alexander II, took place on July 11, 1873. In her letters to the Queen the late Princess Alice gives some charming glimpses of the happiness which this event brought to the family circle. "Poor Marie is very happy, and so quiet. How I feel for the parents, this only daughter (a character Hingebung [perfect devotion] to those she loves), the last child entirely at home." And again, "Dear Marie seems to make the same impression on all. How glad I am she is so quite what I thought and hoped. Such a wife must make Affie happy, and do him good."

The wedding was celebrated with great pomp in St. Petersburg on January 23, 1874. By special request of the Queen, Dean Stanley went to perform the English ceremony, accompanied at the Queen's special request by Lady Augusta Stanley. The Duke and Duchess, in company with the Queen, made a public entry into London on March 12, and were received with the most loyal acclamations.

The Duke and Duchess had five children. The eldest, Prince Alfred, the only son, was born at Buckingham Palace on October 15, 1874, and died in very sad circumstances at Meran on February 6, 1899. He held commissions in various German regiments and was a Knight of the Garter and of the Black Eagle. His sisters are Princess Marie Alexandra Victoria, born at Eastwell Park on October 29, 1875, and married in 1893 to Ferdinand, Prince of Rumania; Princess Victoria Melita, born at Malta on November 25, 1876, and married in 1894 to the Grand Duke of Hesse; Princess Alexandra Louise Olga Victoria, born at Coburg on September 1, 1878, and married in 1896 to the Hereditary Prince Ernest of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, now the Regent of the Duchy during the Duke of Albany's minority; and Princess Beatrice Leopoldine Victoria, born at Eastwell Park on April 20, 1884.

On the death of his uncle, Duke Ernest of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, on August 22, 1893, the Duke of Edinburgh succeeded to the Duchy and took the oath of loyalty to the Constitution in the German Emperor’s presence, afterwards paying him a State visit at Potsdam. The Prince of Wales had previously renounced his right of succession. The anomalous position of the Duke as an English Prince, a peer of the United Kingdom, and a German Sovereign Prince raised some interesting constitutional questions. He surrendered the greater part of his income from this country, retaining, however, his marriage grant of £10,000 a year with which to keep up Clarence House, where he resided for a portion of each year. It was understood that the Duke's acceptance of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha involved no slight pecuniary sacrifice. As a foreign Sovereign he ceased to be Privy Councillor, and it was at any rate doubtful whether he retained the right of sitting and voting in the House of Lords, but he remained an Admiral of the Fleet, being retained on the list under the special provisions of an Order in Council dated November 23,1893.

It was not altogether with a light heart that the Duke thus saw himself compelled to sever many of the ties which bound him so closely to the land of his birth. But having once made up his mind that it was a duty he owed above all to his son, he devoted himself loyally to his new task. His position was in many respects difficult. Even at that period a strong anti-English feeling prevailed amongst considerable sections of the German public, who affected to resent the intrusion of a "foreigner" among the princes of the German Empire. Count von Caprivi, who was then Chancellor, had, In fact, on one occasion to protest in the Reichstag against the unworthy insinuations which had found utterance not only in the German Press, but in the Imperial Parliament. The Duke, however, within the limits of his immediate dominions speedily overcame any prejudices that may have existed amongst his subjects He showed himself a sagacious and diligent ruler, and took a special interest in all that concerned the agricultural and industrial prosperity of the duchies. Both as a landlord in the administration of the Crown domains, which were heavily encumbered when he inherited them, and as a father in the pains which he bestowed upon the education of his son, he displayed sterling qualities which appealed to the better side of the German character, and earned for him the respect of his people. At the same time, his relations with the English community at Berlin remained always specially cordial, and they are indebted to his munificence for the Anglican church in which they now worship. The death of his only son last year was a cruel blow to the Duke, and he may be said, indeed, never to have recovered from it. This unhappy event raised afresh the delicate question of the succession to the Duchy. The Duke of Connaught and his son, Prince Arthur, both declined the honour and renounced their rights in favour of the young Duke of Albany, then a boy at Eton, who was born on July 19, 1884, the posthumous child of Prince Leopold, youngest son of the Queen. The Duke of Albany accordingly left Eton and, accompanied by his mother, proceeded to Coburg, where he was received with the honours due to the heir. The Duke was only the other day given his commission of lieutenant in the Prussian Army.

The late Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was perhaps of a more reserved disposition than his Royal brothers, and he never attained to quite the same degree of universal popularity as they have done. This was unquestionably largely duo to certain popular misconceptions of his character, which was always most warmly admired by those who, owing to their official position or private friendship, were best able to judge. A very keen sportsman, he was also a man of refined tastes, and his love of music amounted to a passion. He had been well trained, and attained no small degree of excellence as a violinist.

1 August 1900


Although the Duke of Edinburgh, the title by which the deceased Prince will always be best remembered among his countrymen, became for dynastic reasons the ruler of a foreign State, it was as a sailor that he proved his capacity and with the naval service of his own country that he was most closely associated. Trained under the very smartest officers of the Navy and with spars and sails as well as all that pertains to the age of steam and steel, he showed himself to be an apt and receptive scholar. With rare experience in almost every grade of the executive line, his knowledge of the internal economy of a man-of-war was thoroughly practical, and as an effective organizer he was second to none. Indeed, if he be judged by the opinions of his brother seamen and by the reputation which he bore among his colleagues, then he must be held to have reached a very high level of skill and capacity as a Commander of fleets and as a naval tactician. A man of many gifts, all were pressed into the service of the profession he loved and to which his devotion was unalterable. Thus he keenly felt the fate that severed him from the sea, and was far from believing that this was in any way compensated for by other honours. The popularity he inspired among all classes in the Navy was made manifest in a hundred ways, and by none will he be more deeply and sincerely mourned than by those he came into contact with as a naval officer.

It is a custom not only with our own Royal Family but with many of the Royal Houses abroad that the second son of the reigning Monarch should be destined for the naval service, and Prince Alfred was no exception. His early education was entrusted to various gentlemen until in 1858, when hr was 14 years of age, he was placed under the care of the Rev. W.R. Jolly, at Alverbank, near Portsmouth, and after a course of preparatory study passed the usual examination for the sea service on August 31 of that year. The Britannia as a school for naval cadets was not yet in existence, and accordingly the young Prince was at once appointed to a seagoing frigate, the Euryalus, a new steam vessel of 51 guns, commanded by Captain John Walker Tarleton. Captain Tarleton, who afterwards had a seat at the Admiralty, was noted as a capital seaman, and is said to have kept a taut hand on the youngster. The Euryalus had a roving commission, and it was while serving on board her that the young Prince visited South Africa. At Maritzburg, Durban, and other towns in Cape Colony and Natal, he was received with an enthusiasm which seemed to echo the national outburst of delight which had followed the announcement of his being destined to a life at sea. His next ship was a screw steam line-of-battleship, the St. George, of 72 guns, Captain the Hon. Francis Egerton. In both these ships a careful selection had been made of the officers who were to serve with him and of the youngsters who were to be his messmates. This selection and that of the two captains have been justified by results, and many of those officers who served in the St. George and the Euryalus have since held high posts in the service with credit to themselves and the training they then received. In his second ship Prince Alfred served on various stations, being at one time in the Channel, and later on making a cruise to North America and the West Indies, and, finally, to the Mediterranean. During both commissions he performed all the regular duties of a midshipman and is credited with having exhibited those traits which are traditionally supposed to be characteristic of young officers of that grade. The story is told of him that on one occasion when his leave had been stopped, for reported inattention at study, he and another youngster slipped overboard and swam ashore in order to attend a dance to which they had been invited.

On February 24, 1863, Prince Alfred received his commission as a lieutenant, missing the grade of sub-lieutenant, or mate, as it was then styled. He had in the meantime passed with honour the examination according to the regulations required then for the higher rank. Three years later he was promoted a captain, and about the same time was created Duke of Edinburgh, hoisting his pennant for the first time in the Galatea, frigate. Her commander was Hugh Campbell, noted as a smart, sensible officer, and of the youngsters in her gunroom it may he mentioned that two are still serving-Captains the Hon. A.G. Curzon-Howe and George Neville. In the Galatea, after visiting the Mediterranean, the Duke proceeded on a long voyage to Australia, and in the colonies his reception was of a most enthusiastic character. It was when he was in New South Wales that an attempt was made to assassinate him, though fortunately the wound was but slight. In the Galatea the Duke also visited Japan, China, and India, The commission of the Galatea lasted until 1872, and before the Duke went afloat again his marriage took place. He then, in February, 1876, commissioned the ironclad Sultan at Portsmonth, and took her to the Mediterranean. It is an odd coincidence that this vessel, which has been to the bottom of the Comino Channel, was raised, renovated, and has since hoisted the pennant, should now have been condemned just at the time of her old captain's death. The Sultan's commission under the Duke was passed in the Mediterranean, when the late Sir Geoffrey Hornby was the Admiral on that station, and now it was that the Prince began the training in tactics of which he was to make such good use. For two years he was in the Sultan and then returned home, being promoted to flag rank as Rear-Admiral on November 12, 1876.

As an Admiral the Duke of Edinburgh's experience was probably unique, and that he made the most of his opportunities when in command of one fleet after another we have the unanimous testimony of his brother officers and the seamen who were best qualified to form an estimate of his worth. His first appointment was as Superintendent of the Naval Reserves, in which post he was able to display his administrative capacity as well as his ability in handling a fleet. In those days the Reserve Squadron (there being no annual manoeuvres) made every year a cruise of some weeks’ duration, and the Duke hoisted his flag in the Hercules. A memorable cruise made at this time was up the Baltic, where the manner in which the Prince took his squadron into Kronstadt and into Kiel, among other places, was a subject of much professional praise. In January, 1881, he was promoted to Vice-Admiral and, a little later, appointed the senior officer in command of the Channel Squadron, a post he held for a year. Then, in February, 1886, he was given the most coveted appointment in the service and the ambition of every naval officer - the command of the Mediterranean Fleet. In the Channel his flagship had been the Minotaur, but, in the Mediterranean, his flag, which became that of a full Admiral in 1886, flew on board the Alexandra. For three years he held this command, and during this period the standard of efficiency of the fleet was acknowledged by all who knew to be as high as it has ever been.

We have been favoured by an officer who served under him with the following remarks on this period of the Duke's career:-

"I heard an officer - now holding an important post - say:-'I have been nearly all my time in the Mediterranean and I have never seen the fleet in better order than it was under the Duke.’ On one occasion several of his Royal Highness's captains agreed that he was the most capable Admiral under whom they had served. He paid close attention to his work, of which, in accordance with the modern system, a great deal had to be done in an office and on paper. His exceptionally high intellectual gifts enabled him to get through masses of papers quickly. Yet few or none would say that they had been carelessly perused. A very eminent naval constructor who visited the Mediterranean officially told me that, hearing his Royal Highness say that he knew the constructive details of all the ships in his squadron, he thought it must be an exaggeration; but that to his astonishment he found it correct. Several of the captains could corroborate this as far as their own ships were concerned. He had a certain inventive turn, and devised - and had he not been a Prince might have patented - an ingenious plan for securing boats' davits in bad weather.

"His strong point as a flag officer was his brilliant ability as a fleet leader. He was a perfect master of fleet evolutions under steam. He used to say that he was only a humble pupil of Sir G. Hornby; but officers who had served under both considered his Royal Highness little inferior to that eminent officer. There probably never was a fleet which had so much steam-evolution work as his. The then new signal-book reached the Mediterranean in the first half of 1888, and before the winter came on the Duke had put his fleet through every evolution in the book, most of them being often repeated, and this, too, in addition to no small amount of work with the older book. He tried, as far as possible, to anchor his fleet in a different formation every time. Off Malamocco, where the fleet had just anchored, the Italian Admiral said to me:- 'And not a ship out of place!' He specially loved changing the formation just before reaching the anchorage. He had such an extraordinarily 'true' eye that he carried this out with absolutely unvarying success. I remember well at Marmarice Bay, just after the ships had come to, a Russian captain telling me that he had been so struck by the way our fleet was brought in that he sat down at once and wrote an official report on it to his Government.

"The Duke used often to astonish his officers by his varied knowledge. It became a standing remark amongst his captains, if they found a peculiar stone, plant, or shell, 'We'll ask the Duke what it is.' As a Master of the Trinity House he took great interest in lighthouse arrangements. I remember well, when on a visit to the lighthouse at Europa Point, he gave us a most pleasant and instructive lecture on the different classes of lights and lenses. All this was without any ostentatious parade of superior knowledge. As a man his gifts were as great as those he possessed as an officer. In a quiet but most effective manner he discountenanced and, in fact, never suffered to arise any risqué conversation or smoking-room stories.' The many individual acts of kindness he did were known to but few. He disliked his kindnesses being known. I could tell you of several. What made them specially worthy of note was that he took personal pains to help people in difficulties, as well as make them presents. It is no exaggeration to say that the men of his ship loved him.

"I was informed on high authority that when the Duke gave up the command in the Mediterranean his successor - one of the most capable and certainly not the most lenient of critics - expressed warmly his delight at the state in which his Royal Highness had left his fleet.

"The Duke, like other commanding officers, was sometimes put out of temper and sometimes came down upon a subordinate rather harshly; but he had only to be shown that he had been a little too hard when he would, in the handsomest, and, which was much more difficult, a suitably public manner, make amends for any excess of fault-finding."

The Duke relinquished his command of the Mediterranean Fleet in 1889, and his final appointment was as Port Admiral and Commander-in-Chief at Devonport from 1890 to 1893. In that year he succeeded to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, but, although his active connexion with the Navy was thus severed, his interest in all questions and matters relating to the service never lessened. On June 22, 1897, the naval service was gratified by the following announcement in the Gazette:- "Her Majesty has been pleased to present to her dear son H.R.H. the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., a bâton as Admiral of the Fleet." His brother seamen, who knew him best of all the Queen's subjects, probably appreciated more fully than others the pleasure the Duke would feel at this announcement. He had won not only their respect and esteem, but their affection. They esteemed him as a capable officer who never shirked his own work or permitted others to shirk theirs, but it was his kindly nature and thorough honesty that won their affections. It has been truly said that the Duke loved the Navy and the Navy was proud of him.


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