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Charles Edward: British Prince and Nazi Official
Prince Charles Edward of Britain - Nazi
A grandson of Queen Victoria, Top Nazi Official
Edward Charles was a bone fide British prince. His father was the youngest son of Queen Victoria. Yet he was a top Nazi official during the Second World War.
Maybe understandably, his name has been virtually written out of British history. Today few people know his name or his story.
Nevertheless, he was a direct blood relation of King George VI, the sovereign at the time of the war and thus of the present Queen Elizabeth II.
Furthermore, it is strongly suspected that he was largely in charge of the Nazi extermination programme and possibly involved in the horrors of the wartime concentration camps.
The family of Victoria and Albert
Victoria and Albert, between them, we related to most European royal families. When their own children married, these bonds were strengthened by marriages that were deemed suitable.
Although Victoria and Albert had nine children,the ones that concern us here are her first three, and her last son.
The family tree below explains further.
The British Royal Family as descended from Queen Victoria
The family tree above shows four of Victoria and Albert's nine children. From left to right, they are:
- Princess Victoria. The eldest child, she became the mother of Wilhelm II, the Kaiser who ruled the German Empire and The Prussian kingdom
- Edward. He became Edward VII.He was the father of George V, the grandfather of George VI (who was king during the Second World War) and the great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II
- Princess Alice. Alice's daughter was Alix, who married Nicholas II, becoming the tsarina - the Empress of Russia
- Prince Leopold. He was the father of Charles Edward, who later became a strong Nazi supporter and a Nazi official
It's a complex family and other European alliances were formed due to the other offspring of Victoria and Albert but you can see that by the time the First World War broke out, Charles Edward was closely related to the Kings of the British Empire and Prussia, the Emperor of Russia and the German Kaiser.
The Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Victoria and Albert were quite a German couple. Her mother( Princess of Saxe Coburg) and governess had both been German
In fact, Victoria was the queen's second name - her first name was the un-English-sounding Alexandrina.
Albert of course, was the Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. By the strange rules of hereditary lineage, when the Duke of the region died, the title passed to Charles Edward's uncle, Prince Alfred - son of Victoria and Albert.
When he died, well, that's where the trouble started. The men who were in direct line to the duchy simply didn't want it.
So almost by default, at the age of sixteen, Charles Edward who was the next inline became Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Coburg meant a lot to Queen Victoria.
It was where her husband was from. It was part of her married name. She had an emotional attachment to the small German region.
Charles Edward was pressured on all sides to be the ruler of the area. Duly, he moved to Germany. He therefore became Karl Eduard.
His cousin, the German Kaiser was fond of the boy and enrolled him in a military academy.
The First World War
Charles was torn when the First World War broke out. His reputation in Britain was bad because he was a British royal prince, living an and supporting Germany, now the enemy.
But the Germans felt much the same way - here was British prince ruling over part of their land.But his cousin the Kaiser insisted that he fight for Germany. He did, but with the proviso that he would not fight British troops.
Back in England, the rest of the royal family were also ill-regarded because of their German connections - and name. The king decreed that their names should be anglicised - hence we now have the House of Windsor.
Charles Edward,of course, as he didn't live in England and not part of the edict, was therefore largely written out of the history of the British royal family.
A new phase in history
The world was shocked by the huge loss of life. This inevitably reflected on the dynastic royal families. Because they were all related, couldn't they have prevented the war? Was there still any point in having monarchies?
Various political groups began in Germany. To Charles Edward, one stood out from the rest. The party led by Adolf Hitler.
Charles became a supporter - and then a friend - of Hitler. Hitler assured him that when he was in power and when he had restored order, it would be aristocrats like Charles who would have leading roles.
Of all the political parties of the day, Hitler's was the only one that had such an aristocratic endorsement. Hitler milked it to the full.
Hitler formed the Anglo-German Fellowship and appointed Charles Edward as its president. This led to Charles travelling back to England prior to the Second World War as an ambassador. Charles felt that he had a role to play on the world again.
Of course, the person he was encouraged to talk to the most was his cousin, the Prince of Wales. He already had pro-German sympathies and Hitler needed him.
The darker side of Hitler emerges
As his power increased, Hitler took over the German Red Cross organisation. He made Charles Edward its president.
But Hitler's Red Cross was nothing like the organisation we know today. The doctors and nurses attended Nazi rallies and gave the Nazi salute.
It was the medical staff that Hitler had his eye on.They became the large team who implemented the Nazi extermination scheme; getting rid of people who were seriously ill or mentally or physically impaired.
This was the forerunner of the extermination of Jew and gypsies during the Second World War.
Charles Edward retained this role from the mid nineteen thirties until the end of the war.
His second-in command was Ernst-Robert Grawitz who, when he knew the war was lost, killed himself and his wife and children rather than fall into enemy hands. He knew what the Allies would do to him.
After the war
Charles Edward, or Karl Eduard as he had now been known for many years, holed up in his castle at Coburg but as a high-ranking Nazi official, he couldn't evade capture for long.
His sister Princess Alice - a much loved member of the British Royal Family - tried her best to get him released but nevertheless, a date was set for his trial.
He was adamant that he had done nothing wrong and knew nothing about the horrors that took place in the T4 (extermination) programme and in the concentration camps. His wife backed him up and confirmed his story.
There is no way of knowing whether he was genuinely believed or whether he was found to be not guilty of war crimes because he was a close blood relation of King George VI of England.
But he was acknowledged as a high-ranking Nazi official. His properties and lands were confiscated. Had he not been ill, he would have been sentenced to jail.
And yet he was in a jail of his own making. He was the grandson of Queen Victoria and was a member of the most important royal dynasty in modern times. He had always been used to the very best - the finest things in life.
Now, he was not only penniless but a disgraced convicted criminal.
Charles Edward died in 1954, less than a year after watching his relative, Princess Elizabeth, being crowned as the Queen of England.
He'd watched the coronation in a cinema.
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© 2014 Jackie Jackson