Prince Charles of Prussia

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Prince Charles of Prussia
Portrait of Charles in military uniform
Portrait by Franz Krüger, 1852
Born(1801-06-29)29 June 1801
Charlottenburg Palace, Brandenburg, Holy Roman Empire
Died21 January 1883(1883-01-21) (aged 81)
Berlin, German Empire
SpousePrincess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
IssuePrince Friedrich Karl
Louise, Landgravine of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld
Anna, Landgravine of Hesse
German: Friedrich Karl Alexander
English: Frederick Charles Alexander
HouseHouse of Hohenzollern
FatherFrederick William III of Prussia
MotherLouise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Prince Frederick Charles Alexander of Prussia (German: Friedrich Karl Alexander; 29 June 1801 – 21 January 1883) was a younger son of Frederick William III of Prussia. He served as a Prussian general for much of his adult life and became the first Herrenmeister (Grand Master) of the Order of Saint John after its restoration as a chivalric order.[1] Nevertheless, he is perhaps remembered more often for his patronage of art and for his sizable collections of art and armor.

Background and family[edit]

The Prussian Crown Prince and Princess arrive on the steamer "Ishora" in St. Petersburg in June 1834, painting by Leopold Ludwig Müller

Charles was born in Charlottenburg Palace near Berlin, the third son of Frederick William III of Prussia by his wife Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He was named Frederick Charles Alexander at birth, but came to be known as Charles, because there were several other Fredericks in his family at that time. His father was already King of Prussia by the time of Charles' birth, and both of his elder brothers were to succeed to the throne, while his elder sister Charlotte would marry Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Charles also had two younger sisters, Alexandra and Louise, and a younger brother, Albert. His male line granddaughter Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia married Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, third son of Queen Victoria.

Army career[edit]

Photograph of Prince Charles of Prussia, c. 1860

Prince Charles entered the Prussian army in 1811 at the age of ten, with the rank of lieutenant in a regiment of the guards. In 1819, he became a member of the Prussian Staatsrat. In 1820, he became a major in the First Regiment of Foot Guards. In 1822, he became colonel of the 12th Infantry Regiment. In 1824, he was promoted to major general. In 1830, he commanded the 2nd Guards Division. He was further promoted to lieutenant-general in 1832 and general of infantry in 1844. He served as Inspector-General (1848) and as Generalfeldzeugmeister and chief of the artillery (1854).

Charles served as Governor of Mainz from 1864 to 1866. In 1852, he became Herrenmeister of the Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg).

Marriage and issue[edit]

On 26 May 1827 in Charlottenburg, Charles married Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, a daughter of Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and his wife Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia.[2] Two years later, in 1829, Marie's younger sister Augusta would marry Charles' older brother, Wilhelm, the future Kaiser.

Charles and Marie had three children together:

Image Name Birth Death Notes
Friedrich Carl.JPG Prince Friedrich Karl Nikolaus of Prussia 20 March 1828 15 June 1885 Married Princess Maria Anna of Anhalt-Dessau; father of 1 son and 3 daughters including Louise Margaret, Duchess of Connaught and Strathearn.
Luise Landgräfin von Hessen Philippsthal Barchfeld.jpg Princess Marie Louise Anna of Prussia 1 March 1829 10 May 1901 Married Alexis, Landgrave of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld
Anna by Winterhalter.jpg Princess Maria Anna Friederike of Prussia 17 May 1836 12 June 1918 Married Friedrich Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel

The family lived in Wilhelmstrasse, opposite the residence of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.[3] In possession of great wealth and a great art collector, his palace contained many art treasures.[1] Charles was also a collector of rare weaponry, and carefully acquired and preserved knives, swords, daggers, rifles, pistols, and revolvers from many different countries and time periods.[3] As a result of his vast collection, one source stated his palace was "one of the most famous repositories of bric-a-brac in Europe...his collection of arms and armor is believed to know no rival save in the great State armories at Turin and Vienna".[1]


The Study of Prince Karl of Prussia, by Eduard Gaertner.

Marie died in January 1877, only five months before what would have been the golden jubilee of their wedding. Although they had married for family and dynastic reasons, their marriage had been happy and harmonious, and they had been deeply attached to each other. After her death, Charles aged rapidly, and gradually grew infirm from ailments typical of advancing age. In 1882, his foot slipped while he was getting up from the dinner table, causing him to fall down heavily and fracture his left thighbone.[1] The fall and fracture accentuated his ailments, and it was reported that survival was unlikely.[1] He died in Berlin a few months later, on 21 January 1883, aged 81. His last words were "Long live the Emperor."[2]

At the time of his death, Charles was the only surviving brother of Emperor Wilhelm I. His death disrupted plans for the celebration of the silver wedding anniversary of his nephew, Crown Prince Frederick William, as well as plans for a visit from the Prince and Princess of Wales to Berlin.[1][2]


He received the following decorations and awards:[4]

German honours
Foreign honours



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Prince Charles of Prussia", The New York Times, Berlin, 19 June 1882
  2. ^ a b c "Kaiser William's Brother Dead", The New York Times, Berlin, 22 January 1883
  3. ^ a b "Prince Charles of Prussia", The New York Times, 8 February 1883
  4. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Preußen (1882-83), Genealogy p. 2
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Königlich Preussische Ordensliste", Preussische Ordens-Liste (in German), Berlin, 1: 8, 20, 30, 573, 921, 964, 1877 – via
  6. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Herzogtum Anhalt (1867) "Herzoglicher Haus-orden Albrecht des Bären" p. 16
  7. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreichs Bayern (in German). Königl. Oberpostamt. 1867. p. 10. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  8. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1873), "Großherzogliche Orden" pp. 59, 63, 73
  9. ^ Staatshandbücher für das Herzogtums Sachsen-Altenburg (1869), "Herzogliche Sachsen-Ernestinischer Hausorden" p. 20
  10. ^ Staat Hannover (1857). Hof- und Staatshandbuch für das Königreich Hannover: 1857. Berenberg. pp. 32, 64.
  11. ^ Kurfürstlich Hessisches Hof- und Staatshandbuch: 1856. Waisenhaus. 1856. p. 11.
  12. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Hessen (1879), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen" pp. 10, 130
  13. ^ Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Großherzogtums Oldenburg: für das Jahr 1872/73, "Der Großherzogliche Haus-und Verdienst Orden" p. 30
  14. ^ Staatshandbuch für das Großherzogtum Sachsen / Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1869), "Großherzogliche Hausorden" p. 11
  15. ^ Staatshandbuch für das Großherzogtum Sachsen / Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1880), "Großherzogliche Hausorden" p. 13
  16. ^ Staatshandbuch für den Freistaat Sachsen: 1865/66. Heinrich. 1866. p. 4.
  17. ^ Württemberg (Kingdom). Statistisches Landesamt (1877). Staatshandbuch für Württemberg. Druck von W. Kohlhammer. pp. 21, 52.
  18. ^ "A Szent István Rend tagjai" Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ H. Tarlier (1854). Almanach royal officiel, publié, exécution d'un arrête du roi (in French). Vol. 1. p. 37.
  20. ^ Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 468. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
  21. ^ M. & B. Wattel (2009). Les Grand'Croix de la Légion d'honneur de 1805 à nos jours. Titulaires français et étrangers. Paris: Archives & Culture. p. 510. ISBN 978-2-35077-135-9.
  22. ^ The Royal Tourist—Kalakaua's Letters Home from Tokio to London. Editor: Richard A. Greer. Data: 10 March 1881
  23. ^ Sovereign Ordonnance of 6 April 1869
  24. ^ "Militaire Willems-Orde: Preussen, Friedrich Karl Alexander Prinz von" [Military William Order: Prussia, Frederick Charles Alexander Prince of]. Ministerie van Defensie (in Dutch). 25 August 1878. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  25. ^ "Caballeros de la insigne orden del toisón de oro", Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish), 1882, p. 136, retrieved 14 June 2020
  26. ^ "Sveriges statskalender" (in Swedish). 1877. p. 369. Retrieved 6 January 2018 – via

External links[edit]

Prince Charles of Prussia
Born: 29 June 1801 Died: 21 January 1883
Preceded by Herrenmeister (Grand Master) of the Order of Saint John
Succeeded by