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Encyclopedia > Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale

His Royal Highness Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale (Albert Victor Christian Edward Wettin) (January 8, 1864January 14, 1892) was born in Windsor, England, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) and Alexandra of Denmark, and was therefore the second in line to the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Born two months premature, he was of limited intellect, perhaps even somewhat retarded [1] (http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&safe=off&q=%22albert+victor%22+%22retarded%22&meta=), and when he reached young adulthood his dandyism earned him the nickname Prince Collar and Cuffs. He was known to his family as Eddy.

Prince Albert Victor Duke of Clarence and Avondale
Prince Albert Victor
Duke of Clarence and Avondale

Military career

Prince Albert Victor and his brother George served as Naval cadets on the HMS Bacchante until 1883, after which he was sent to Trinity College, Cambridge. However, the Prince showed no ability as a student, and in 1885 he was sent to join the Army, in the Tenth Hussars Cavalry Regiment.

Prospective royal brides

Three women were lined up as possible brides for the Prince. The first, in 1889, was Princess Alix of Hesse (future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia), who did not return his affection. The second, in 1890, was Princess Hélène of Orléans, whom he also loved, but the engagement had to be cancelled when Hélène (a great-granddaughter of the last King of the French) declined to give up her Roman Catholic faith.

Engagement of Mary of Teck

Finally, Prince Albert Victor (now Duke of Clarence and Avondale) became engaged to Princess Mary of Teck (also known as Princess May), but before the marriage could take place he died of pneumonia at Sandringham House in Norfolk. He was 28 years old and unmarried, and his death left his younger brother, Prince George, heir to the throne. Prince George married his brother's fiancée, with whom he was in love and had a long and happy marriage. He later succeeded to the throne as King George V.

Cleveland Street Scandal

The official biography of Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy euphemistically stated that the Prince's private life was "dissipated". The official biographer of King George V, Harold Nicholson, stated in his diaries that it appeared that Prince Albert Victor had been involved in a major scandal and there had been a cover-up at the highest levels.

What is now clear is that this concerned his involvement in the Cleveland Street Scandal of 1889 — the exposure of a homosexual 'rentboy' brothel in central London's Cleveland Street that was patronised by gentlemen and aristocrats. The release of Public Record Office police papers in 1975 concerning the case, and more importantly, the publication of the letters of one of the other participants in the scandal, Lord Arthur Somerset, (see Hyde, Aronson and Lees-Milne) have confirmed the Prince's involvement beyond reasonable doubt.

Jack the Ripper rumours

In recent times the Duke of Clarence and Avondale has been the centre of rumours that he committed, or was responsible for, the Jack the Ripper murders in 1888. However, these theories have been comprehensively dismissed by reputable historians, who note, among other factors, that the Prince was in Scotland at the time of several of the murders. For more information see Jack the Ripper royal conspiracy theories.


Prince Albert Victor died of pneumonia on January 14, 1892. However many rumours and conspiracy theories suggest alternatives. One theory believes that he actually died of syphilis. Another claims that he died of a morphine overdose, deliberately administered to him. Yet another claims that he survived until the 1920s in an asylum on the Isle of Wight and that his death was faked to remove him from the line of succession. There is no particular evidence to support any of these contentions.

The Duke of Clarence and Avondale in fiction

Through his connection to the above mentioned theories the Duke of Clarence and Avondale has occasionally been portayed in fiction. His appearances in film include:

He is also referenced in the original print version of From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell.


  • Aronson, Theo. Prince Eddy and the Homosexual Underworld. London : J. Murray, c1994.
  • Hyde, H. Montgomery. The Cleveland Street Scandal. London : W. H. Allen, 1976.
  • Knight, Stephen. Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution. New York : McKay, 1976.
  • Lees-Milne, James. The Enigmatic Edwardian: The Life of Reginald, 2nd Viscount Esher. London : Sidgwick & Jackson, 1986.
  • Sams, Ed. Victoria's Dark Secrets. Ben Lomond, CA : Yellow Tulip, ?. Web link (http://www.curiouschapbooks.com/victoria_s_dark_secrets.html)
  • Simpson, Colin, Lewis Chester and David Leitch. The Cleveland Street Affair. Boston : Little, Brown, c1976.

External links

  • Profile with photographs (http://www.geocities.com/jesusib/AlbertVictor.html)
  • Cleveland Street Scandal (http://www.gayhistory.com/rev2/events/1889.htm)

  Results from FactBites:
Albert - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (482 words)
1100-1170) Margrave of Brandenburg from 1157 to 1170 to and duke of Saxony from 1138 to 1142
Albert, Duke of Saxony (1443-1500), the younger son of Frederick II the Gentle
Albert of Mainz (1490-1545), Elector and Archbishop of Mainz from 1514 to 1545 and Archbishop of Magdeburg from 1513 to 1545
Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1733 words)
Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, KG KP (January 8, 1864 – January 14, 1892) was a member of the British Royal Family, as the eldest son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and Alexandra of Denmark.
The Prince was baptised in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace on 10 March 1864 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Thomas Longley.
Prince Albert Victor died of pneumonia as a complication of influenza on January 14, 1892.
  More results at FactBites »



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