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Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse

Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse

The basics
Quick Facts
Countries Germany
Occupations Art collector
Gender male
Birth 1 May 1868 (Panker, Plön District, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany)
Death 28 May 1940 (Kassel, Kassel Government Region, Hesse, Germany)
Mother: Princess Anna of Prussia
Father: Prince Frederick William of Hesse-Kassel
Siblings: Frederick William III of HesseAlexander FrederickLandgrave of Hesse
Spouse: Princess Margaret of Prussia
Children: Richard Hessen
Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse
The details

Frederick Charles Louis Constantine, Prince and Landgrave of Hesse (1 May 1868 – 28 May 1940), Friedrich Karl Ludwig Konstantin Prinz und Landgraf von Hessen-Kassel in German, was the brother-in-law of the German Emperor Wilhelm II. He was elected King of Finland on 9 October 1918, but renounced the throne on 14 December 1918. During his brief reign he was known in Finnish as Frederik Kaarle I, King of Finland.

Early life and marriage

Frederick was born at his family's manor, Gut Panker, in Plön, Holstein. He was the third son of Frederick William of Hesse, Landgrave of Hesse, and his wife Princess Anna of Prussia, daughter of Prince Charles of Prussia and Princess Marie Louise of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. Frederick William, a Danish military officer, had been one (and perhaps the foremost) of the candidates of Christian VIII of Denmark in the 1840s to succeed to the Danish throne if the latter's male line died out, but renounced his rights to the throne in 1851 in favor of his sister, Louise. Frederick William was of practically Danish upbringing, having lived all his life in Denmark, but in 1875, when the senior branch of Hesse-Kassel became extinct, he settled in northern Germany, where the House had substantial landholdings.

Prince Frederick Charles and Princess Margaret of Prussia in 1893.

On 25 January 1893, Frederick Charles married Princess Margaret of Prussia, youngest sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. They had six children, all sons, including two sets of twins:

Upon their father's death in 1884, Frederick's eldest brother Frederick William became the head of the House of Hesse, and afterwards his next brother Alexander.

The Finnish throne

The crown planned for the King of Finland

Frederick Charles was elected the King of Finland by the Parliament of Finland on 9 October 1918. However, with the end of World War I, in light of his German birth and the abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany ending monarchies in Germany, the arrangement was quickly considered untenable by influential Finns of the time and by Frederick himself. Not much is known of the official stance of the victorious Allied Powers. Frederick Charles renounced the throne on 14 December 1918, without ever arriving in the country, much less taking up his position. Finland then adopted a republican constitution.

Later life

Landgrave Alexander Frederick of Hesse abdicated as the head of the House of Hesse on 16 March 1925, and was succeeded by Frederick Charles, his younger brother.

At Frederick's death, his eldest surviving son, Philipp, succeeded him as head.

However, according to certain family documents and correspondence, his successor as King of Finland would have been his second surviving son Prince Wolfgang of Hesse (1896–1989), apparently because Wolfgang was with his parents in 1918 and ready to travel to Finland, where a wedding to a Finnish lady was already in preparation for the coming Crown Prince. Philipp was in the military and unable to be contacted at the time. This choice of the younger of the twins, however, was not intended to mean that in future generations, the kingship would have been passed on through secundogeniture, with the eldest son always succeeding to the Hesse title (according to Dr. Vesa Vares). On the contrary, it is practically inconceivable that succession of a kingdom would depend on secondary consideration. The source Viini 2/2007 (in Finnish) indicates a view that until his death Moritz of Hesse was the current successor, and prince Donatus was the heir.

Titles, styles and honours

Titles and styles

  • 1 May 1868 – 13 October 1888: His Highness Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse
  • 14 October 1888 – 8 October 1918: His Royal Highness The Hereditary Prince of Hesse
  • 9 October 1918 – 14 December 1918: His Majesty The King of Finland
  • 15 December 1918 – 15 March 1925: His Royal Highness The Hereditary Prince of Hesse
  • 16 March 1925 – 28 May 1940: His Royal Highness The Landgrave of Hesse


  •  Denmark: Knight of the Order of the Elephant - 24 June 1895
  •  German Empire:
    • Knight of the Order of the Black Eagle
    • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Red Eagle
  •  United Kingdom: Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath - 22 June 1897


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