Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse

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Frederick Charles
Hessenin prnssi Friedrich Karl - Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse.jpg
Frederick Charles c. 1917
King-elect of Finland
Reign9 October 1918 –
14 December 1918
(never reigned)
SuccessorMonarchy abolished[a]
RegentP. E. Svinhufvud
C. G. E. Mannerheim
Born(1868-05-01)1 May 1868
Panker Castle, Plön, Kingdom of Prussia
Died28 May 1940(1940-05-28) (aged 72)
Kassel, Nazi Germany
Schloss Friedrichshof, Kronberg im Taunus, Germany
(m. 1893)
IssuePrince Friedrich Wilhelm
Prince Maximilian
Philipp, Landgrave of Hesse
Prince Wolfgang
Prince Christoph
Prince Richard
Frederick Charles Louis Constantine
FatherFrederick William, Landgrave of Hesse
MotherPrincess Anna of Prussia

Frederick Charles Louis Constantine, Prince and Landgrave of Hesse (German: Friedrich Karl Ludwig Konstantin Prinz und Landgraf von Hessen-Kassel; Finnish: Fredrik Kaarle; 1 May 1868 – 28 May 1940), was the brother-in-law of the German Emperor Wilhelm II. He was elected King of Finland on 9 October 1918, but renounced the throne on 14 December 1918. During this brief period, he was known in Finnish as Fredrik Kaarle.

Early life[edit]

Frederick was born at his family's Panker Castle, in Plön, Holstein. He was the third son of Frederick William of Hesse, Landgrave of Hesse, and his second wife Princess Anna of Prussia, daughter of Prince Charles of Prussia and Princess Marie Louise of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. Frederick William, a Danish military officer, had been one (and perhaps the foremost) of the candidates of Christian VIII of Denmark in the 1840s to succeed to the Danish throne if the latter's male line died out, but renounced his rights to the throne in 1851 in favor of his aunt, Louise. Frederick William was of practically Danish upbringing, having lived all his life in Denmark, but in 1875, when the senior branch of Hesse-Kassel became extinct, he settled in northern Germany, where the House had substantial landholdings.

Marriage and issue[edit]

Prince Frederick Charles and Princess Margaret of Prussia in 1893

On 25 January 1893, Frederick Charles married Princess Margaret of Prussia, youngest sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. They had six children, all sons, including two sets of twins:

Upon their father's death in 1884, Frederick's eldest brother Frederick William became the head of the House of Hesse, and afterwards his next brother Alexander.

The Finnish throne[edit]

The wedding of Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse and Princess Margaret of Prussia.

Frederick Charles was elected the King of Finland by the Parliament of Finland on 9 October 1918. However, with the end of World War I, in light of his German birth and the abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany ending monarchies in Germany, the arrangement was quickly considered untenable by influential Finns of the time and by Frederick himself. Not much is known of the official stance of the victorious Allied Powers. Frederick Charles renounced the throne on 14 December 1918, without ever arriving in the country, much less taking up his position. Finland then adopted a republican constitution.

The electoral document refers to Prince Frederick Charles with the Finnish name Fredrik Kaarle.[1]: 189  Other proposals for a Finnish regnal name included Kaarle and Kaarlo. The regnal name "Väinö I" which lived on in the memory of the Finns probably came from a newspaper causerie.[2]: 26  The name Väinö was used by Suomen Sosialidemokraatti causerie writer Heikki Välisalmi alias Hesekiel and Uusi Päivä causerie writer Väinö Nuorteva alias Olli, who also proposed other choices ("Ilmari, Väinö, Kauko, Jouko, Usko, Jaska?").[3][4]

Later life[edit]

Landgrave Alexander Frederick of Hesse abdicated as the head of the House of Hesse on 16 March 1925, and was succeeded by Frederick Charles, his younger brother.

At Frederick's death, his eldest surviving son, Philipp, succeeded him as head.

However, according to certain family documents and correspondence, his successor as King of Finland would have been his second surviving son Prince Wolfgang of Hesse (1896–1989), apparently because Philipp was already the designated heir of the rights over the Electorate of Hesse, but certainly because Wolfgang was with his parents in 1918 and ready to travel to Finland, where a wedding to a Finnish lady was already in preparation for the coming crown prince. Philipp was in the military and unable to be contacted at the time. This choice of the younger of the twins, however, was not intended to mean that in future generations, the kingship would have been passed on through secundogeniture, with the eldest son always succeeding to the Hesse title (according to Dr. Vesa Vares). On the contrary, it is practically inconceivable that succession of a kingdom would depend on secondary consideration.


  1. ^ He was de facto succeeded by Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg (as President of the Republic).



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Huldén, Anders: Kuningasseikkailu Suomessa 1918. Helsinki: Kirjayhtymä, 1988. ISBN 951-26-2980-1.
  2. ^ Baer, Katarina: Suomen kuningas. Helsingin Sanomat monthly supplement #8/2002.
  3. ^ Väinö, Suomen Sosialidemokraatti 17 February 1927, issue #39.
  4. ^ Vihdoinkin, Uusi Päivä 11 September 1918, issue #147.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Genealogy", Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Hessen (in German), Darmstadt: Im Verlag der Invalidenanstalt, 1912–1913, p. 4 – via
  6. ^ a b Großherzoglich Hessische Ordensliste (in German), Darmstadt: Staatsverlag, 1914, pp. 2, 4 – via
  7. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch für des Herzogtum Anhalt (1894), "Herzoglicher Haus-Orden Albrecht des Bären" p. 17
  8. ^ "Schwarzer Adler-orden", Königlich Preussische Ordensliste (supp.) (in German), vol. 1, Berlin, 1886, p. 5 – via
  9. ^ Staatshandbuch für das Großherzogtum Sachsen / Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1900), "Großherzogliche Hausorden" p. 17
  10. ^ Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 465. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
  11. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 212
  12. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1910), "Großherzogliche Orden" p. 41
  • Large article on Helsingin Sanomat newspaper about Friedrich Karl and his descendants, including the current "pretender" for the throne.
  • Nash, Michael L (2012) The last King of Finland. Royalty Digest Quarterly, 2012 : 1
Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse
Born: 1 May 1868 Died: 28 May 1940
Regnal titles
Preceded by Head of the House of Hesse Succeeded by
Titles in pretence
Kingdom abolished — TITULAR —
King of Finland and Karelia
14 December 1918 – 28 May 1940
Reason for succession failure:
Kingdom abolished in 1918
Succeeded by
Preceded by — TITULAR —
Elector of Hesse