Full Name: Albert Edward
Born: 9th November 1841
Married: Alexandra of Denmark
Died: 6th May 1910
Buried: St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
The first son and therefore the heir to the throne, Albert Edward, known as Bertie was born less than a year after his sister Vicky. His choice of name was after his father, whom Queen Victoria adored and hoped Bertie would live up to. His education was designed to prepare him for his future role, and he was given a rigorous timetable of lessons which began full time at the age of seven. However, unlike his father and sister, Bertie was not academically minded and rebelled against the strict regime his parents set for him.
Bertie was a charmer, and used it to his advantage from a young age, making his siblings laugh at inappropriate times and tricking the royal staff into giving him extra servings are meals. His ability to make those around him feel at ease was a skill he developed as he got older. After briefly studying at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Bertie hoped to join the Army. However his mother objected to this, only allowing him to join in a ceremonial role and he rebelled. While training in Ireland he spent nights with an actress, Nellie Clifden. When news of this reached his parents, Prince Albert – appalled at his son’s behaviour tried talking to him while on a long in the rain. Shortly after this Albert died, and Victoria – grief stricken, blamed Bertie for his untimely death.
In March 1863 Bertie married Alexandra of Denmark at Windsor Castle, only 16 months after Albert’s death. The match was greeted with concern from family members as many were German and Germany and Denmark were involved in long standing disagreements of land. The marriage was considered to be a success and produced six children, however Bertie did maintain mistresses, which his wife was aware of, an dutifully accepted. As Prince and Princess of Wales, Bertie and Alexandra led the way in creating the approachable monarchy. They made public appearances at various events around the country, and were both very popular.
By the time Edward became King in 1901, he had been the longest serving Prince of Wales (59 years) until surpassed by his great-great grandson Prince Charles in September 2017. Victoria withdrew from public life after Albert’s death and refused to include Bertie in state affairs. This could have had a disastrous effect for Bertie on becoming King, however his reign helped to revitalise the monarchy and the country. He introduced the Order of Merit to recognise contributions to the Arts and Sciences. Bertie’s reign was under 10 years, yet the Edwardian period has been highly regarded as a time of elegance and charm.
Bertie died following several heart attacks in May 1910. He had been a heavy smoker and drinker for years and he had suffered with skin cancer, which had been treated by radium. His funeral took place in Westminster Abbey, followed by his body being taken to its final resting place at Windsor.