prince and royal visitor, was born Albert Victor Christian Edward at Frogmore in Hampshire on 8 January 1864, eldest son of Edward Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and his wife Alexandra. Born prematurely, the young prince enjoyed poor health and showed little mental ability or interest. He and his younger brother GEORGE (later George V) were close and both became naval cadets in 1877.
In 1879 it was decided that the two princes should join the fully-rigged cruiser-corvette, with auxiliary engines, HMS Bacchante on a three year world cruise. They were supervised by their tutor the Rev John Neale Dalton, who was later to record the voyage in a ponderous two volume work of 1,500 pages, supposedly written by the two princes, but in reality almost entirely Dalton's. Bacchante arrived in Stanley on 24 January 1881 with a squadron of four accompanying ships after a slow (fifteen days) and stormy passage from Montevideo. Stanley, wrote Dalton, resembled an Irish village snugly nestling on the hillside and he went on to record the Islands' population, imports and exports, revenue and expenditure and cost to the home government (£500 a year). Bishop STIRLING called on board to describe the work of the missionaries in Tierra del Fuego, and on 25 January Governor KERR and the colonial secretary COLLINS also called. But a signal brought down by ship from Montevideo reported trouble at the Cape of Good Hope: the excursion to a penguin colony arranged by Captain PACKE was cancelled, the ships got up steam and Bacchante left by 7.30 the same evening. Dalton's final thoughts on the colony were that it could best be exchanged with the French for their territory of New Caledonia, but these tactless remarks passed unnoticed in the bulk of his book.
The cruise, study at Cambridge and Heidelberg, a spell in the army and the dukedom of Clarence and Avondale failed to effect any improvement in the Prince's prospects. He was betrothed to marry Princess Victoria Mary (May) of Teck in February 1892, but he died of pneumonia on 14 January at Sandringham. For the Princess, who later married his brother George and became Queen Mary, and for the country, it was a release.
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(1) Albert Victor's intellect, sexuality, and mental health have been the subject of much speculation Some authors have argued that he was the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper, but contemporary documents show that Albert Victor could not have been in London at the time of the murders, and the claim is widely dismissed. Queen Victoria referred to Albert’s ‘dissipated life’ in a letter to her eldest daughter. Some commentators have promoted hostile assessments of Albert Victor's life, portraying him as lazy, ill-educated and physically feeble, but later authors have portrayed Albert Victor in a more sympathetic light – and have suggested that his reputation was deliberately diminished by those wishing to enhance the image of his brother George (later King George V). (From Wikipedia Commons)
(2) The visit of the Bacchante was cut short; from Dalton's account of the voyage:
‘The Governor, Mr. Kerr (whom we met last year in Barbados where he was then Attorney-General),with Mr. Collins, the colonial secretary, came onboard; all the captains and many officers had accepted invitations to dine with him this evening, and all the resources of these out-of-the-way islands have been exerted to the utmost for many weeks, to furnish a worthy welcome to the Detached Squadron. But the "exigencies of the public service" forbid, and in our unavoidable absence we leave the Garnet and Swallow to support the honour of the British Navy. Captain Packe, a Norfolk gentleman, whom we have met out hunting at Sandringham, and who is one of the proprietors here, had arranged a visit to the Penguin Rookery, one of the curiosities of the place, which also will have to be abandoned. But of course, it can't be helped. Six hours after the receipt of the telegram [containing the order from the Admiral of the Squadron to sail], all were onboard, steam up, ships underway, and the squadron left Stanley Harbour at 7.30 pm. The whole of the carefully arranged programme of our cruise has been, in one moment, completely broken up and destroyed.’
September 2019 Link to image added
September 2020 One additional photograph added
June 2021 One additional image added; two editorial comments added; one external link added;