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 Alexander, 1st Marquess of Carisbrooke

 

Alexander, 1st Marquess of Carrisbrooke

(Prince Alexander of Battenberg)

Sir Alexander Albert Mountbatten, GCB, GCVO, 1st Marquess of Carisbrooke, 1st Earl of Berkhamsted, 1st Viscount Launceston, formerly HH Prince Alexander of Battenberg was born at 5.10pm on 23rd November 1886 at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, the eldest son (and first child) of Prince Henry of Battenberg (1858-1896) and The Princess Beatrice (1857-1944), the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) - and was known in the family as 'Drino'.  The Queen wrote of her grandson that he was - “not big but very vigorous and well developed with a big nose and very pretty small ears.”  His mother struggled being maternal and like her own mother, found it difficult to show loving emotions towards her children.  Originally Alexander was styled Prince Alexander of Battenberg, with the qualification of Serene Highness, however under the terms of the Royal Warrant issued by Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) on 13th December 1886, he was granted the style of Highness within the United Kingdom, but as a male-line descendant of The Princess of Battenberg (1825-1895), Alexander was styled Serene Highness within the German Empire.  

Alexander’s childhood was spent happily under the careful shadow of the ever present elderly Queen.  His mother had only been allowed to marry Prince Henry on condition that he gave up his German commitments and lived permanently with Princess Beatrice and ultimately with the aged Queen - who took great pleasure at spoiling her favourite Battenberg grandchild by her favourite child. Alexander was soon sent to Stubbington House School, Fareham, Hampshire, a preparatory school which had such close links to the Royal Navy, it was called 'the cradle of the Navy'.  He was then subsequently sent to Wellington College, Crowthorne, Berkshire but his was not a happy time for Alexander as the other boys considered him conceited and arrogant.  

Upon leaving education, Alexander joined the Royal Navy as a Midshipman cadet in 1902 completing his basic training onboard the training ship HMS Britannia.  He changed his career path and joined the Army in  August 1909 as a Second Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards and by 1915 he was a Captain.  In 1911, Alexander was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) in the Coronation Honours List of King George V (1865(1910-1936) having been appointed a Knight Commander (KCVO) the year before.  During active service in World War I, he was wounded and twice mentioned in dispatches on 21st June 1916 and 25th January 1917.  

 

The insignia of the Royal & Distinguished Spanish Order

of Charles III

On 19th June 1919, Alexander resigned his commission and went on the Reserve List.  By this time, Alexander had been awarded numerous foreign orders and decorations which included The Croix de Guerre - with palms (France), The Order of St. Vladimir, 4th Class with Swords (Russia) and being appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal & Distinguished Spanish Order of Charles III (Spain).

 

Alexander as a baby

sitting with his grandmother - Queen Victoria

 

Prince Alexander of Battenberg

in the uniform of a Captain

within the Grenadier Guards

On 17th July 1917, King George V (1865(1910-1936) issued a Royal Proclamation in response to anti-German attacks against the dynastic German Royal Family of Britain where he declared that members of the Royal Family and extended family would cease to use their inherited German styles and titles and that his family name would be Windsor instead of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha.  At the King's request, Alexander's family relinquished their Princely status and decided to adopt the surname of Mountbatten - a literal Anglicized translation of Battenberg.

As a result, Alexander initially became styled Sir Alexander Mountbatten. 

On 19th July 1917 at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, London, Alexander married The Lady Irene Denison (1890-1956), the only daughter of Sir William Denison, 2nd Earl of Londesborough (1864-1917), who sadly died a few months after the wedding.  Although the wedding was simple in comparison to some of his Royal relations due to the War, it was attended by King George V (1865(1910-1936) and Queen Mary (1867-1953) and most of the Royal Family.  Lady Irene had no bridesmaids and instead of carrying a bouquet she carried a silver-bound prayer book which was a gift from her mother, The Countess of Londesborough - formerly The Lady Grace Fane (1860-1933).  In addition, there was no formal reception after the wedding as would be customary for such a society wedding of this standing and the whole affair was pretty lackluster.  

 

ABOVE: Lady Irene Denison (left) & Alexander

after announcing their engagement

RIGHT: Lady Irene Denison, later The Marchioness of Carisbrooke

Alexander had a somewhat over-inflated opinion of himself, which caused many members of his family to mock him and he was often seen as a 'figure of fun' within the family.  On 7th November 1917, Alexander was created Marquess of Carisbrooke, Earl of Berkhamsted & Viscount Launceston. Naturally Alexander saw losing his Princely title as a demotion and was resentful.  His cousin - Queen Louise of Sweden, formerly Princess Louise of Battenberg (1889-1965) said - “I shriek with laughter when I think of Drino, losing his title."  

 

The altar within The Chapel Royal,

St James's Palace, London