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Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha: Wikis


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Princess Beatrice
Duchess of Galliera
Spouse Infante Alfonso, Duke of Galliera
Infante Alvaro, Duke of Galliera
Infante Alonso
Infante Ataulfo
Full name
Beatrice Leopoldine Victoria
House House of Bourbon
House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Father Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Mother Maria Alexandrovna of Russia
Born 20 April 1884(1884-04-20)
England Eastwell Park, Kent, England
Died 13 July 1966 (aged 82)
Spain El Botánico, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain

Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Beatrice Leopoldine Victoria; 20 April 1884 – 13 July 1966) was a member of the British Royal Family, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She later married into the Spanish Royal Family, and was the wife of Alfonso de Orleans y Borbón, Infante of Spain. She was called Bea by her family.


Early life

Princess Beatrice was born on 20 April 1884 at Eastwell Park, Kent. Her father was Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Her mother was the Duchess of Edinburgh (née Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia), the only daughter of Alexander II of Russia and Marie of Hesse and by Rhine.

As a granddaughter of the British monarch in the male line, Beatrice held the title of Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with the style Her Royal Highness.

Beatrice spent much of her early years in Malta, where her father was serving in the Royal Navy. On the death of Prince Alfred's uncle, Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, on 22 August 1893, the vacant duchy fell to the Duke of Edinburgh, since HRH Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the Duke's elder brother had renounced his right to the succession.

The Duke and Duchess and their five children travelled to Coburg to take up residence shortly afterwards.

Marriage prospects

In 1902, Princess Beatrice had a romance with Russian Grand Duke Michael, the younger brother of Tsar Nicholas II, and at that time the heir presumptive to the Imperial Throne. She began receiving letters from him in September 1902 and, although he was a Russian Grand Duke and she, now, a German Princess, they corresponded in English, and he nicknamed her "Sima".[1] However she was prevented from marrying the Grand Duke as the Russian Orthodox Church forbade the marriage of first cousins. Although such marriages had been allowed previously in the House of Romanov (Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna, whose hand was denied to Napoleon I, was twice allowed to wed first cousins; her descendants became the Russian branch of the Dukes of Oldenburg), the devout Nicholas II, the official head of Russia's church, refused to bend the rules for his brother's sake.[1]

In November 1903, Michael wrote Beatrice that he could not marry her. The situation was aggravated by a letter Beatrice then received from her elder sister Victoria Melita (aka "Ducky"), in which Michael was blamed for having callously initiated the doomed romance when, a couple of years later Ducky, having divorced her first cousin Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, was told that re-marriage to another first cousin, Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich Romanov, would likewise be forbidden by the Tsar, she refused to take no for an answer: the couple eloped into exile).[1] The humiliated Beatrice was sent to Egypt to recover from heartbreak, but pined and wrote reproachful letters to Michael until 1905.[1]

Beatrice was then rumoured to marry Alfonso XIII of Spain, but this proved to be a false rumour also as he married her cousin Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg in 1906. It was at their wedding that Beatrice met a cousin of King Alfonso, Alfonso de Orleans y Borbón (12 November 1886 Madrid, Spain – 10 August 1975), Infante of Spain, 5th Duke of Galliera. The Spanish government objected to an infante's proposed match with a British Princess who, unlike Queen Victoria Eugenie, had not agreed to convert to Roman Catholicism: the King was obliged to make clear that, should the wedding take place, the couple would have to live in exile.

Nonetheless, Beatrice and Alfonso married in a Roman Catholic and Lutheran ceremony at Coburg on 15 July 1909. The couple settled in Coburg, until, in 1912, Alfonso and Beatrice were allowed to return to Spain, and his rank of Infante was restored.


Scandal and Exile

During King Alfonso XIII's unhappy marriage, he had numerous affairs and dalliances, some of which produced illegitimate children. There is some evidence that the king tried to seduce Beatrice, but she refused to give in. Therefore, the king expelled her and her husband from Spain, under the pretext of sending Infante Alfonso to a mission in Switzerland. At the same time, the king's circle of friends, who despised both Ena and Beatrice, started to spread malicious rumours saying that Beatrice had been expelled because of her bad behaviour, which was not true.

British Royalty
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
UK Arms 1837.svg
Descendants of Prince Albert
   Alfred of Edinburgh
   Marie of Edinburgh
   Victoria of Edinburgh
   Alexandra of Edinburgh
   Beatrice of Edinburgh
   Margaret of Connaught
   Arthur of Connaught
   Patricia of Connaught
   Alice of Albany
   Carl Eduard, Duke of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha

The couple had three sons:

Civil War

The family moved to England, where the three sons were educated at Winchester College. The Spanish Royal Family eventually relented, and Beatrice and her family were allowed to return to Spain where they established their home at an estate in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

The 1930s were an unhappy time for the family, as the collapse of the Spanish monarchy and the subsequent civil war led to the loss of much of the family's wealth. After the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931, King Alfonso and his family fled into exile in Italy. In the years that followed, the political situation in Spain worsened as various groups wrestled for power. By the late-1930s, the conflicts had erupted into all-out civil war. Beatrice and Alfonso lost their estate during the war, and the couple's middle son, Alfonso, was killed fighting the Communists.

Later life

Beatrice died at her estate of El Botánico in Sanlúcar de Barrameda on 13 July 1966. Her husband survived her by nine years. Their son Ataulfo died, unmarried, in 1974. Their only grandchildren are the children of Prince Alvaro. At her death, she was the last surviving child of Prince Alfred and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

Princess Beatrice's coat of arms
  • 20 April 1884 – 22 August 1893: Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of Edinburgh
  • 15 July 1909 – 24 December 1930[2]: Her Royal Highness Princess Alfonso de Orleans y Borbón
  • 24 December 1930 – 14 July 1937[3]: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Galliera
  • 14 July 1937 – 13 July 1966: Her Royal Highness Princess Alfonso de Orleans y Borbón

British arms

Beatrice's arms were the royal British arms, with an inescutcheon of the shield of Saxony, differenced with a label argent of five points, the central bearing a cross gules, the four others anchors azure. In 1917, the inescutcheon was dropped by royal warrant from George V.[4]


Notes and sources

  1. ^ a b c d Crawford, Rosemary & Donald. "An Innocent Abroad," Michael and Natasha, pages 50-52. New York: Scribner, 1997. isbn 0-684-83430-8
  2. ^ The Peerage – Antonio, 4th Duke of Galliera
  3. ^ The Peerage – Alfonso, 5th Duke of Galliera
  4. ^ Heraldica – British Royalty Cadency


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