PRINCE MAURICE OF BATTENBERG
Lieutenant His Highness Prince Maurice Victor Donald of Battenberg, KCVO was born at 6.45am on 3rd October 1891 at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the youngest son of Prince Henry of Battenberg (1858-1896) and Princess Beatrice (1857-1944), youngest daughter of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901). He was named 'Maurice' after his great-grandfather - Count John Maurice VON Hauke (1775-1830); 'Victor' after his grandmother - Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) and 'Donald' in honour of the country of his birth, Scotland. Under the terms of the Royal Warrant issued by The Queen 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), Maurice was styled Serene Highness within the German Empire. He was The Queen’s 34th grandchild and her 12th grandson.
Prince Maurice of Battenberg
Maurice was baptised on 31st October 1891 in the Drawing Room at Balmoral Castle in a service conducted by The Very Rev. Dr Cameron Lees (1835-1913), Dean of the Order of the Thistle, Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland and an Honorary Chaplain to The Queen.
Maurice's god-parents were - The Duchess of Connaught & Strathearn, formerly Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia (1860-1917), represented by The Queen; The Princess of Leiningen, formerly Princess Marie of Baden (1834-1899); Prince Albert Victor 'Eddy', The Duke of Clarence & Avondale (1864-1892); Prince Franz Joseph 'Franzjos' of Battenberg (1861-1924) and Grand Duke Ernest 'Ernie' of Hesse & By the Rhine (1868-1937). As usual the ageing Queen took a central part in the service, she invited her principal members of the Royal Household and various tenants from the Balmoral, Abergeldie and Birkhall estates and requested that the Aberdeen Madrigal Choir sang during the ceremony.
Maurice's baptism was the first baptism of a Prince of the Blood Royal in Scotland for 300 years.
A painting of the baptism of Prince Maurice of Battenberg by George Ogilvy Reid
Maurice’s father - Prince Henry of Battenberg, died in 1896 when he was just 4yrs old (which was the same age his mother was when her own father - Prince Albert, The Prince Consort (1819-1861) died. Like many members of his family (including Mountbatten), Maurice was sent to Lockers Park Preparatory School, Hemel Hempstead. He later attended Wellington College, a boarding school in Crowthorne, Berkshire with a strong military tradition. In 1900, upon hearing of the news of the death of his cousin - Prince Christian Victor of Schleswig-Holstein (1867-1900) during the Boer War, Maurice vowed that he would join the same regiment and in 1910, following his training at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Maurice joined (as a Second Lieutenant) the 60th King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
Prince Maurice (as a child)
sitting on the knee of his mother -
Princess Henry of Battenberg (Princess Beatrice)
On 19th June 1911, like his older brother Leopold, Maurice was appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in the Coronation Honours List of King George V (1865(1910-1936). At the outbreak of the Great War he went to the Western Front and was twice Mentioned in Despatches for gallantry in the field at the crossing of the Aisne.
The three sons of Princess Beatrice
(Princess Henry of Battenberg)
& Prince Henry of Battenberg -
(standing left to right)
Prince Maurice; Prince Leopold;
(seated) Prince Alexander,
later 1st Marquess of Carisbrooke
On 27th October 1914, Maurice was leading an attack on the German front line at Zonnebeke near Ypres in the Belgian province of West Flanders when he was mortally wounded by shrapnel. Knowing he was mortally wounded by a shell blast he had the presence of mind to bid farewell to his men. He was subsequently carried back to a field dressing station where he died, aged 23yrs. Upon hearing the news of Maurice's death, King George V (1865(1910-1936) - Maurice’s first cousin, drove direct to Kensington Palace to console his bereaved and devastated widowed aunt, the Prince’s mother - Princess Beatrice (1857-1944).
ABOVE: The official notice from
The Lord Chamberlain on behalf of
King George V informing the Court
about mourning for Prince Maurice
RIGHT: The 1916 portrait of
Prince Maurice (painted posthumously)
by Pablo Béja
BELOW: The original
simple grave in 1914
of Prince Maurice in Ypres, Belgium
ABOVE: Prince Maurice of Battenberg
at the races
Maurice was buried on 31st October 1914 following "a soldier's funeral amidst the noise of battle" in Ypres, His mother had requested that her son’s body should be buried in Ypres amongst his men and not repatriated back to the UK. The funeral service was conducted by The Rev Edmund J. Kennedy (d.1915), Chaplain-Major to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Present at the service was Maurice's first cousin - Prince Arthur of Connaught & Strathearn (1883-1938), the only son of Prince Arthur, 1st Duke of Connaught & Strathearn (1850-1942) who was serving as a Major in the 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys). Kennedy wrote in his memoirs - "I had met him [Maurice] in bygone years when he was a bright, attractive boy. Such a task awakened the greatest interest in my heart, for sad as the ceremony was, I keenly felt the privilege of rendering this last act of tender duty to a young Prince so universally beloved. One of his men, in relating the manner of his heroic death, afterwards said to me, 'I loved him, Sir, as a brother.' The funeral, which was attended by Prince Arthur of Connaught and several Generals, took place under heavy fire. So continuous indeed was the roar of the shells, that an officer, writing to the papers some time after, related that it was impossible to distinguish the chaplain's voice. The service was therefore necessarily brief, and at its conclusion the crowd of officers quickly dispersed."
The Prince was the first member of the Royal Family to be killed in World War I. When news of Maurice's death was received by Lt-Gen (later Field Marshal) Sir Douglas Haig, later 1st Earl Haig (1861-1928), then Commanding Officer of the 1st Army, he said - "by the death of H.H. Prince Maurice of Battenberg, the Army loses a most gallant and valuable officer. In peace and war he has done his duty to King and Country."
BELOW: The 1916 portrait of
by Philip de Lászlo.
De László deeply disliked
the practice of painting from
photographs and only agreed
to do so rarely for
King George V visiting the grave of his cousin -
Prince Maurice in 1922 in Ypres, Belgium
On 5th November 1914, a memorial service was held in The Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, London which was attended by King George V (1865(1910-1936), Queen Mary, formerly Princess Victoria Mary 'May' of Teck (1867-1953) Queen Alexandra, formerly Princess Alexandra 'Alix' of Denmark (1844-1925) and other members of the Royal Family. Also present were the Prime Minister - The Rt Hon. Herbert H. Asquith, later 1st Earl of Oxford & Asquith (1852-1928) and Empress Eugénie of France (1826-1920), the widow of Napoléon III, Emperor of the French (1808-1873). A memorial service was also held at the chapel of the British Embassy in Madrid, Spain on 3rd November 1914. Among the congregation was Infante Beatriz of Spain (1909-2002), Prince Maurice's niece - the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria Eugénie of Spain (1887-1969).
Prince Edward 'David', The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII (later The Duke of Windsor)
visiting the grave of his cousin - Prince Maurice in 1923 in Ypres, Belgium
ABOVE: Queen Victoria Eugénie (kneeling)
at the grave of Prince Maurice, with King Alfonso XIII
of Spain (first from left standing)
in 1923 in Ypres, Belgium
RIGHT: Prince Maurice's grave today.
Click HERE for information about the grave
from The Commonwealth War Graves Commission