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 Prince Maurice of Battenberg

 

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 The Princess Beatrice (1857-1944).  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.  

 

Maurice was baptised at Balmoral Castle a few weeks after his birth in a private family service conducted by The Very Rev. Dr Cameron Lees (1835-1913), the Dean of the Order of the Thistle, Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland and an Honorary Chaplain to The Queen.  As usual the ageing Queen took a central part in the service and represented her absent daughter-in-law - The Duchess of Connaught & Strathearn, formerly Prince Louise Margaret of Prussia (1860-1917) as god-mother.  Maurice's baptism was the first baptism of a Prince of the Blood Royal in Scotland for 300 years.

Under the terms of the Royal Warrant issued by his grandmother 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), Maurice was styled Serene Highness within the German Empire.  He was the Queen’s 34th grandchild and her 12th grandson.

 

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.

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.  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.  The Prince was the first member of the Royal Family to be killed in World War I and was just 23yrs old.  

 

Prince Maurice as a child, sitting on the knee of his mother -  

Princess Beatrice (Princess Henry of Battenberg)

 

A painting of Prince Maurice of Battenberg

King George V visiting the grave of his cousin -

Prince Maurice of Battenberg in Ypres, Belgium

Queen Victoria Eugénie of Spain visiting the grave of her brother -

Prince Maurice of Battenberg in Ypres, Belgium

Upon hearing the news, King George V (1865(1910-1936) - who was Maurice’s first cousin, drove direct to Kensington Palace to console his bereaved and devastated widowed aunt, the Prince’s mother (Princess Beatrice) who requested that her son’s body should be buried in Ypres amongst his men. Maurice was subsequently buried at Ypres Town Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.  Captain W. Dyer recalled - “not far away the German big guns were firing on our trenches, and our men were doing their best to put them out of action.  The guns were making such a noise that you could not hear the Chaplain’s voice.  It was a soldier’s funeral amidst the noise of battle”.  

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), 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). 

ABOVE: Notice from the Lord Chamberlain

concerning Court Mourning

following the death of

Prince Maurice of Battenberg
 

FAR RIGHT: the grave of

Prince Maurice of Battenberg today

in Ypres, Belgium

RIGHT: Prince Maurice of Battenberg