Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

:"See Princess Victoria for other Saxe-Coburg princesses named Victoria."Infobox British Royalty|royal
name = Princess Victoria
title = Duchess of Kent

caption = Princess Victoria, from Project Gutenberg eText
spouse = Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent (1818–1820)
Emich Carl, 2nd Prince of Leiningen (1803–1814)
issue = Carl, 3rd Prince of Leiningen
Princess Feodora of Leiningen
Queen Victoria
full name = Mary Louise Victoria
"German: Marie Luise Viktoria"
titles = "HRH" The Duchess of Kent and Strathearn
"HDSH" The Princess of Leiningen
"HDSH" Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
royal house = House of Hanover
House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
father = Franz Frederick Anton, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
mother = Augusta Reuss-Ebersdorf
date of birth = 17 August 1786
place of birth = Coburg, Germany
date of death = Death date and age|1861|3|16|1786|8|17|df=yes
place of death = Frogmore, Windsor|

Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (Mary Louise Victoria; 17 August 178616 March 1861), later (both by marriage) HH Princess of Leiningen and, following her first husband's death HRH The Duchess of Kent, was the mother of Queen Victoria.

Early life

Mary Louise Victoria, born 17 August 1786, was the fourth daughter (but seventh child) of Duke Franz Frederick Anton, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Auguste Reuss of Ebersdorf und Lobenstein. By her second marriage she was the mother of Queen Victoria.


First marriage

On 21 December 1803 at Coburg, she married (as his second wife) Charles, Prince of Leiningen (1763–1814), whose first wife, Henrietta Reuss of Ebersdorf, was her aunt.

econd marriage

On 29 May 1818 at Coburg (and again on 11 July 1818 at Kew Palace) she married Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent (1767–1820).


The Duke of Kent died suddenly in January 1820, a few days before his father, King George III. The widowed Duchess had little cause to remain in England, not speaking the language and having a palace at home in Coburg, where she could live cheaply on the incomes of her first husband, the late Prince of Leiningen. However, the British succession at this time was far from assured – of the three brothers superior to Edward in the line of succession, the new king, George IV and the Duke of York were both estranged from their wives (both wives being past the age when they were likely to bear any children) and the third, the Duke of Clarence (the future William IV) had yet to produce any surviving children through his marriage. The Duchess decided that she would do better by gambling on her daughter's accession than by living quietly in Coburg, and sought support from the British government, having inherited her husband's debts. After the death of Edward and his father, the young Princess Victoria was still only third in line for the throne, and Parliament was not inclined to support yet another impoverished royal. The Duchess of Kent was allowed a suite of rooms in the dilapidated Kensington Palace, along with several other impoverished nobles. There she brought up her daughter, Victoria, who would become Queen of the United Kingdom, and eventually Empress of India.

The Duchess was given little financial support from the Civil List, though she inherited little but debts from her husband. Parliament was not inclined to increase her income, remembering the Duke's extravagance. Her brother, Prince (later King of the Belgians) Leopold was a major support, since he had a huge income of fifty thousand pounds per annum for life, voted when he married Princess Charlotte in the expectation that he would become the consort of the monarch in due course.

In 1831, the young princess's status as heiress presumptive and the Duchess's prospective place as Regent led to major increases in income. A contributing factor was Leopold's designation as King of Belgium (he surrendered his British income on election) and the perceived impropriety in having the heiress to the Crown supported by a foreign sovereign.

Royal feud

The Duchess relied heavily on John Conroy, an Irish officer whom she engaged as her private secretary. Perhaps due to Conroy's influence, the relationship between the Duchess's household and William IV soon soured. William was denied access to his young niece as much as the Duchess dared. She further offended the King by taking rooms in Kensington Palace that the King had reserved for himself. Both before and during William's reign, she snubbed his illegitimate children,the FitzClarences. All of this led to a scene at a dinner in 1836 when the King, again feeling offended by the Duchess and Conroy, publicly hoped that his reign would continue until Princess Victoria was of age, and decried the influence on the young Princess Victoria by those around her.

Conroy had high hopes for his patroness and himself: he envisioned Victoria succeeding the throne at a young age, thus needing a regency government, which, following the Regency Act of 1831, would be headed by the Princess's mother (who had already served in that capacity in Germany following the death of her first husband). As the personal secretary of the Duchess, Conroy would be the veritable "power behind the throne". He did not count on Victoria's uncle, William IV, surviving long enough for Victoria to reach her majority. He had cultivated her mother as his ally, and ignored and insulted Victoria. Now he had no influence over her, and thus tried to force her to make him her personal secretary upon her accession. This plan too backfired, as Victoria came to associate her mother with Conroy's schemes, for pressuring her to sign a paper declaring Conroy her personal secretary. When Victoria became Queen, she relegated the Duchess to separate accommodations, away from her own.


When the Queen's first child, the Princess Royal, was born, the Duchess of Kent unexpectedly found herself welcomed back into Victoria's inner circle. It is likely that this came about as a result of the dismissal of Baroness Lehzen at the behest of Victoria's husband (and the Duchess's nephew), Prince Albert. Firstly, this removed Lehzen's influence, and Lehzen had long despised the Duchess and Conroy, suspecting them of an illicit affair. Secondly, it left the Queen wholly open to Albert's influence, and he likely prevailed upon her to reconcile with her mother. Lastly, Conroy had by now exiled himself to the continent, and that divisive influence was removed. The Duchess's finances, which had been left in shambles by Conroy, were revived thanks to her daughter and her daughter's advisors. She became a doting grandmother, by all accounts, and was closer to her daughter than she ever had been. [Packard, p. 85]

Rumours of affair

There has been some speculation, not only that the Duchess and Conroy were lovers, but that the Duchess had earlier been unfaithful to the Duke of Kent and that Victoria was not his daughter. This has been promoted most prominently by William and Malcolm Potts' 1995 book "Queen Victoria's Gene". [ [ Hemophilia: “The Royal Disease”] ] Those who promote this position point to the absence of porphyria in the British Royal Family among the descendants of Queen Victoria - it had been widespread before her; not to mention the rise of haemophilia, unknown in either the Duke's or Duchess's family (or that of Prince Albert)—among the best documented families in history. Victoria herself was puzzled by the emergence of the disease, given its absence in either family.

John Rohl's book, PURPLE SECRET, documents evidence of porphyria in Victoria, the Princess Royal's daughter Charlotte and her grand daughter, Feodore. It goes on to say that Prince William of Gloucester was diagnosed withthe disease shortly before his own death in a flying accident.

[ [ Curious Chapbooks & Hysterical Histories, Chapter 4 – The Bleeding Sickness] ] Several authors, including Jerrold Packer in his book, "Victoria's Daughters" have adhered to the theory. In addition, they point to the fact that the Duke failed to have children during his long affair with Madame de Saint-Laurent, his long-time mistress, and suggest that the Duke was sterile. In practice, this would have required the Duchess's lover to be haemophiliac – an unlikely survival, given the poor state of medicine at the time. [Packard, p. 43-44] Actual evidence for this position is not known, and given the fact that haemophilia may arise spontaneously, a spontaneous mutation is a far more likely explanation than an affair by the newly-married Duchess. Queen Victoria has been said by some to have a strong resemblance to her Hanoverian relatives, particularly George IV.


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1= 1. Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
2= 2. Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
3= 3. Countess Augusta Reuss-Ebersdorf
4= 4. Ernest Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
5= 5. Sophia Antonia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
6= 6. Heinrich XXIV, Count of Reuss-Ebersdorf
7= 7. Princess Karoline Ernestine of Erbach-Schönberg
8= 8. Francis Josias, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
9= 9. Princess Anna Sophie of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
10= 10. Ferdinand Albert II, Duke of Lüneburg
11= 11. Antoinette Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
12= 12. Heinrich XXIII, Count of Reuss-Ebersdorf
13= 13. Sophie Theodora of Castell-Remlingen
14= 14. Count Georg August of Erbach-Schönberg
15= 15. Ferdinande Henriette of Stolbert-Gedern
16= 16. John Ernest IV, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
17= 17. Charlotte Johanne of Waldeck-Pyrmont
18= 18. Ludwig Friedrich I, duke of Schwarzberg-Rudolstadt
19= 19. Anna Sophie of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
20= 20. Ferdinand Albert I, duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
21= 21. Christine of Hesse-Eschwege
22= 22. Louis Rudolph, duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
23= 23. Christine Louise of Öttingen
24= 24. Heinrich X, Count of Reuss-Ebersdorf
25= 25. Marie Sibylle of Reuss-Obergreiz
26= 26. Johann Friedrich, Count of Solms-Baruth
27= 27. Benigna of Promnitz
28= 28. Wolfgang Georg of Castell-Remlingen
29= 29. Sophia Juliana of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg
30= 30. Maximilian Erasmus- Count of Zinzendorf-Pottendorf
31= 31. Anna Amalia of Dietrichstein

Later life

The Duchess died on 16 March 1861. She is buried in the Duchess of Kent's Mausoleum at Frogmore, Windsor Home Park, near to the royal residence Windsor Castle.

The Queen was much affected by her mother's death. It was the start to a disastrous year, which would end with Albert's death.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

*17 August 178621 December 1803: "Her Ducal Serene Highness" Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Duchess in Saxony
*21 December 1803 – 29 May 1818: "Her Ducal Serene Highness" The Princess of Leiningen
*29 May 1818 – 16 March 1861: "Her Royal Highness" The Duchess of Kent and Strathearn


Further reading

*Packard, Gerrold (1973). "Victoria's Daughters". New York: St. Martin's Press

External links


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