An ex British prince who was Hitler’s accomplice

Charles Albert went from being the lovely grandson of Queen Victoria to a Nazi party member. Shunned in Britain after World War I, Charles Albert went on trial for war crimes after World War II

Karthick Nambi
May 8, 2020 · 6 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Charles Edward with Hitler. Source-Wikipedia

After the end of World War I, Germany got embroiled by waves of far-right and far-left parties.

The Nazi Party gained popularity as celebrities in Germany joined the Nazi party. The annual German Day is of significance to far-right parties.

At the 1922 German Day, Hitler stormed into Coburg and took center stage. He even got an invitation to meet the Ex Duke of Coburg.

It was the first time Hitler received official recognition from a royal house. The ex Duke was the head of the house of Saxe -Coburg and Gotha, who had a deep connection with every other monarchy in Europe.

The head of the Saxe -Coburg and Gotha royal house was Charles Edward, who would later join the Nazi Party and head the German Red Cross under Hitler’s rule. Because of the Duke’s meeting with Hitler, Coburg will be the first town to elect a Nazi member to the Reichstag, also the first town in Germany to have a Nazi mayor.

Coburg at the center of Europe:

Image for post
Image for post
Coburg castle,Source-Wikipedia

Coburg, though a small town in Germany, is the centerpiece of monarchies in Europe.

Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was the royal house of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria of Britain. Coburg was so close to Queen Victoria’s heart that she visited it 13 times in her lifetime.

Many European royal weddings happened in Coburg castle. After the death of King Albert’s brother, and his son, the throne of Coburg needed a replacement. Queen Victoria sent her younger son Prince Leopold’s son Charles Edward to take over the position as the Duke of Coburg.

Charles Edward lost his father at a very young age. His mother and sister were supportive of his new venture. At the age of 13, Charles Edward became the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

There was a massive difference between Britain’s lifestyle and Germany’s lifestyles, for which he struggled initially. Kaiser, the king of Prussia, was the cousin of Queen Victoria and took care of Charles Edward’s education. Charles Edward was enrolled in a German military school and was married to Princess Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein of the German royal family.

World War I:

Image for post
Image for post
Charles Edward in military attire. Source-Wikipedia

When Germany declared war on Britain in World War I, Charles Edward was into a dilemma whom to support.

Should he support his place of birth Britain or the duty to protect his subjects? Charles Edward sided with Germany under the agreement that he won’t fight against Britain.

Charles Edward went to fight against Russia in the east. After Germany lost the war, it was the start of Charles Edward ‘s decline.

In Britain, they branded Charles Edward a traitor, and stripped him of his royal titles in the UK. Even the royal family changed its house name from a Germanic name, the House of Coburg, to an English name, the House of Windsor.

Back in Germany under the Wiemar Republic, Charles Edward ‘s status as Duke became obsolete. Charles Edward retained his castle and some of his properties but lost his official status and titles.

The Rise of Nazism:

On 14 October 1922, a German Day celebration was held in Coburg, and Hitler took the show because of the number of Nazis present.

Charles Edward invited Hitler for a visit to his palace and dined with him. Charles Edward even gave a public audience with Hitler and showed his unofficial support to the Nazi party.

Charles Edward then joined the SD (Sicherheitdienst) of the Nazi party. Coburg went to elect the first Nazi member to the Reichstag (German parliament).

Charles Edward got the honorable post of being the president of the German Red Cross. Coburg elected the first Nazi mayor of a German city.

Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany and appointed Charles Edward as the president of the German Anglo Association to nurture ties with Britain. Charles Edward was very close to his cousin Crown Prince Edward who was next in line to the throne. Hitler thought to utilize the relationship in favor of Germany in case of a war in Europe.

Image for post
Image for post
Duke of Windsor during visit to Germany giving Nazi salute. Source- Daily mail

Travel to Britain:

Charles Edward traveled to Britain on a state visit and received state honors from the British government. The same government which took his British titles away.

During this visit, he strengthened his ties with the royal family. King George died when Charles Edward was in Britain and got an invitation to attend the funeral.

As he lost his British titles, he dressed up in an SD uniform. Charles Edward, during the visit, collected crucial pieces of information for Hitler, especially on British sentiments on the Nazi party.

Image for post
Image for post
Charles Edward in SD uniform in King George funeral. Source-Wikipedia

An ex-royal in an SD uniform caused an uproar in the British newspapers. With his cousin King Edward VIII, who shares his views is in the throne, Charles Edward happily left for Germany. King Edward VIII abdicated his throne in a few months, and it was a blow to Charles Edward ‘s influence in Britain.

World War II:

Image for post
Image for post
German Red cross recruitment poster. Source-Wikipedia

The German Red Cross was conducting euthanasia schemes under orders from the Nazi government, which was a prelude to the Holocaust.

As per the Nazi party guideline, people with physical or mental disabilities are rounded up in camps and killed in various methods. Later the relatives of the deceased were informed that their loved ones died of natural causes.

Being the president of the German Red Cross, Charles Edward should have known about the inhuman activities. The German invasion of Poland in 1939 prompted Britain to declare war on Germany, which put Charles Edward again in the position of turning against Britain.

Charles Edward was close to Hitler throughout the war. Hitler was looking for Charles Edward even on the last days of the war. Evidence later indicated that Charles Edward might be in the payroll of Hitler.

After World War II:

The US Army arrested Charles Edward and charged him of war crimes. Meanwhile Coburg fell under the Soviet occupation, and Charles Edward was stripped of his wealth completely.

Charles Edward ‘s sister appealed to US generals to release Charles Edward, but it was in vain. As a part of denazification, Charles Edward had to pay a hefty fine.

Charles Edward was cleared of all charges after his grandson became the King of Sweden. Charles Edward was bankrupt after the settlement and shifted with his family to West Berlin. Charles Edward saw the coronation of his cousin Queen Elizabeth II at a movie theater in West Berlin. Charles Edward died on 06 March 1954 in Coburg.

Source : https://youtu.be/Zq4K0WBXrv8

YouTube Link:

Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share…

Sign up for Lessons from History

By Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history.  Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Karthick Nambi

Written by

A human with interest in history and technology

Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history. The objective is to promote history on Medium and demonstrate the value of historical writing.

Karthick Nambi

Written by

A human with interest in history and technology

Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history. The objective is to promote history on Medium and demonstrate the value of historical writing.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store