Prince Charles Edward was Queen Victoria’s favourite grandson. In 1900, the sixteen-year-old Prince was the only viable British contender for the hugely wealthy Dukedom of Saxe Coburg and Gotha in Germany. Ordered to go by Queen Victoria, he took the title and was transformed from a British Prince into a German Duke – Herzog Carl Eduard. The course of his life was altered in ways neither he nor Queen Victoria could have ever imagined.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Prince Charles Edward had no option but to fight for Germany against the country of his birth. When the War ended, he was stripped of his British titles, and an Act of Parliament branded him a Traitor Peer. Disillusioned and depressed, Charles Edward became an enthusiastic supporter of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Workers’ Party, and unwittingly helped him in his rise to power. Appointing him President of the Anglo German Fellowship, Hitler offered Charles Edward a way to return to Britain with his head held high.
Charles Edward was also President of the German Red Cross, and it was this that would ultimately embroil him in the darkest aspects of the Nazi regime, implicating him in the T4 Euthanasia Programme. At the end of the Second World War, he was arrested by the Americans, held in a series of harsh internment camps and forced to undergo a humiliating trial where, despite his claims he had no knowledge of the crimes of the regime, he was adjudged to have been an important Nazi and was almost bankrupted by heavy fines. He died in poverty and obscurity in Germany in 1954. His sister Princess Alice, who had stayed in England, became one of the most popular members of the Royal Family and a favourite aunt of Queen Elizabeth II. She was the living embodiment of the life her brother could have had, if it had not been for Queen Victoria’s fateful decision fifty years earlier. Documentary first broadcast in 2007.
Content licensed from TVF International.