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Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein

Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein

German prince
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro German prince
Gender male
Birth 22 January 1831 (Augustenborg Municipality, Sønderborg Municipality, Region of Southern Denmark, Denmark)
Death 28 October 1917 (London, Greater London, London, England)
Star sign Aquarius
Mother: Countess Louise Sophie of Danneskiold-Samsøe
Father: Christian August IIDuke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
Spouse: Princess Helena of the United Kingdom
Children: Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-HolsteinPrince Christian Victor of Schleswig-HolsteinAlbertDuke of Schleswig-HolsteinPrincess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein
Education University of Bonn
The details

Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein KG GCVO PC ADC(P) (Frederick Christian Charles Augustus; 22 January 1831 – 28 October 1917) was a minor Danish-born German prince who became a member of the British Royal Family through his marriage to Princess Helena of the United Kingdom (25 May 1846 – 9 June 1923), the fifth child and third daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Early life

Prince Christian was born in Augustenborg, Denmark. He was the second son of Christian August, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg and his wife, Countess Louise Sophie of Danneskiold-Samsøe.

Prince Christian was perhaps, by descent, the most Danish Prince of the Danish Royal Dynasty in his generation (which was the generation when Denmark came to its most recent succession crisis, cf details accounted at his cousin's article: Louise of Hesse). His family belonged to the House of Oldenburg, the royal house which numbered all medieval Scandinavian royal dynasties among its distant forefathers. Christian's paternal grandfather happened to have both grandfathers who were "Royal" dukes from the Oldenburg dynasty. What was different compared with ancestries of their rival relatives, was Christian's specific ancestry among current Danish high nobility. His mother was from an ancient Danish family (Danneskiold-Samsoe), and his paternal grandmother Louise Auguste of Denmark was its Royal Princess. His paternal grandfather Frederik Christian II, Duke of Augustenborg numbered two ladies of Danish high nobility as his grandmothers (Danneskiold-Samsoe and Reventlow), and one Danish Countess as paternal great-grandmother (Ahlefeldt-Langeland). Christian's parents had high hopes that in the then-rising era of nationalism, this ancestry would be viewed with favour by necessary supporters when Danish succession comes to be solved. The family groomed Christian's elder brother Frederick to become king of Denmark, however, the Danish succession crisis was resolved in favour of others.

In 1848, young Christian's father, Duke Christian 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, of which Holstein also was a 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-Augustenburg family, their cadet branch of the house of Holstein-Sonderburg. During the 1852 First War of Schleswig, 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 Frederick of Prussia (later the German Emperor Frederick III).


In September 1865, while visiting Coburg, The Princess Helena 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 Great Britain. They married at the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on 5 July 1866. Seven days before the wedding, on 29 June 1866, the Queen granted her future son-in-law the style of Royal Highness by Royal Warrant. This style was in effect in the United Kingdom, not Germany where Prince Christian, as a son of the Duke of Augustenburg, was only entitled to the style Serene Highness.

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, known commonly as:

  • Prince Christian Victor (14 April 1867 – 29 October 1900)
  • Prince Albert (28 February 1869 – 13 March 1931) who in 1921 became the titular Duke of Schleswig-Holstein and the Head of the House of Oldenburg
  • 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).
  • Unnamed stillborn son (7 May 1877).

Honours and offices

Prince Christian was made a Knight of the Garter (KG), a member of the Privy Council (PC) and a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO). He became a personal Aide-de-Camp to the Queen in 1897 and, later to King Edward VII. Prince Christian was given the rank of 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. He was High Steward of Windsor, and Ranger of Windsor Great Park. He was awarded a Doctor of Civil Law degree by the University of Oxford. He received the freedom of the city of Carlisle on 7 July 1902, during a visit to the city for the Royal Agricultural Society′s Show.

As a "Minor Royal", he officiated at many public functions. These included participation, with the Princess Helena, in the speech day of Malvern College in 1870.

World War I

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-Sonderburg-Augustenburg" and instead became known as Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Christian, Her Highness Princess Marie Louise, and Her Highness Princess Helena Victoria, respectively.

Later life

Prince Christian died at Schomberg House, Pall Mall, in October 1917, in his eighty-sixth year. He is buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore in Windsor Great Park.

Titles and Honours

Titles from birth

  • His Serene Highness Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein (1831–1866)
  • His Royal Highness Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein (1866–1917)
  • His Royal Highness Prince Christian (1917)


  • 22 January 1901: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, GCVO
  • Knight of the Garter, KG
  • Privy Council, PC


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