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Charles Edward: British Prince and Nazi Official

Updated on August 15, 2015
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BritFlorida loves to track down historical stories, especially scandals and mysteries from the UK.

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.

Second from the left: Dr. Goebbels. Fourth from the left: Charles Edward
Second from the left: Dr. Goebbels. Fourth from the left: Charles Edward | Source

© 2014 Jackie Jackson


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    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @alancaster149 - I didn't know that, thanks for the info. The houses of parliament would have probably been on his list too.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Come back soon @MariaMontgomery!

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @CoeGurl - isn't it an incredible story?

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @goatfury - thanks so much!

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @AJRG - we tend to think of the Victorians a very straight laced but it seems there was more to them than meets the eye.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      WWII was on its way regardless of our royals. Mr Schickelgruber wanted to show off his German 'muscle' by picking on the easy targets first - and that inluded Neville C.

      He would have liked to use at least one royal as a 'front' (like the Mafia use legit businesses to launder their 'earnings'). Getting two royals would have been a feather in his cap (did you know he planned on moving Buck House to his avenue in Berlin stone by stone?)

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      I'm certain that there's more to the Edward VIII story - and hopefully that it will be revealed in time. I've looked into the murder of Sir Harry Oakes that took place in the Bahamas and although the official story is that Edward (as governor) 'bungled' the investigation by bringing in detectives from Miami, I'm certain his involvement was more than that. Wallis too, probably.

      I have my own very strong theory about who killed Sir Harry and why.

      It seems increasingly likely that Wallis was more than a happy accident for the British government. Had she never existed, it's interesting to say the least, to imagine the events of WW2 and its aftermath.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Another tangled web we've inherited, BritFlorida.

      Eadward, for a short time Edward VIII until he got hi-jacked by Wallis Simpson, was another candidate for treatment by Adolf Schickelgruber. He travelled to Austria and Germany, got himself tangled up in the Nazi web and had to be sent off to be Governor of Bermuda to keep him out of harm's way.

      He still couldn't behave himself, closely involved as he became with the Germans in that backwater, and became mired in selling Sterling when it was punishable with stiff prison sentences for mere mortals. Winston turned a blind eye - well, Royals, thick as thieves with the aristocrats and 'hoi polloi'. He wasn't the only one to be investigated by MI5, and Lord Halifax was all for waving the white hanky when the Germans came within sniffing distance...

      The dice were loaded against Attlee's government when the management team changed at no.10, so it was no surprise when in Churchill's second tenure the higher-ups started going over to the Kremlin.

      What is it with the cream that makes them so much like scum, that rises to the top? When you don't understand the meaning of frontiers, it's easy to be a turncoat.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @UnnamedHarald - that's for the vote up! I appreciate it.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 3 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      I'm enjoying this article so much, but must stop reading for now. I will return & finish it. You've definitely done your research.

    • CoeGurl profile image

      CoeGurl 3 years ago from USA

      Fascinating and well-written. I knew that royal cousins were leaders of various countries during WWII but I had not known of Charles Edward before this.

    • goatfury profile image

      Andrew Smith 3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      What a paradox! The family tree graphic you created here is helpful and beautiful, by the way.

    • AJRG profile image

      Alice Gordon 3 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Very interesting article. Had no idea. Those Victorian folks got around.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      Never knew anything about this son of Victoria. That's what I love about HubPages. Great job, BritFlorida. Voted up and interesting.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Thanks so much,Merrci! It's a fascinating story. Strange how so few people are aware of it these days. I suspect that he is still the black sheep of the family.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Interesting article Britflorida! Tried to give it a thumbs up but it wouldn't let me. Enjoyed reading.