Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper
Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper

Royal NavyObituaries

The following obituary for Prince Ernest L.V.C.A.J.E Leiningen appeared in the Times newspaper.

Obituary in the Times newspaper
6 April 1904


We regret to have to announce the death of Admiral his Serene Highness the Prince of Leiningen, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., which occurred yesterday morning, after a short illness, at Amorbach, Bavaria.

Ernest Leopold Victor Charles August Joseph Emich, Reigning Prince of Leiningen, Count Palatine of Mosbach, Count of Dürn, and Lord of Amorbach, Miltenberg, Bischofsheim, Boxberg, and Lauda, was born at Amorbach on November 9, 1830, and was the eldest son of Charles, Reigning Prince of Leiningen, a half-brother of her late Majesty Queen Victoria, through the second marriage of his mother, the Princess Victoria Maria Louisa of Leiningen, a daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, to his Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, the fourth son of George III.

The Prince entered the Navy in March, 1849, and as a midshipman in the Hastings, flagship of Rear-Admiral Austen, Commander-in-Chief in the East Indies, and then in the paddle-sloop Sphynx served during the second Burmese war, 1851-52, being present at the capture of Prome and other operations. In the latter part of 1853 he was appointed midshipman in the Britannia, the flagship of Vice-Admiral [James Whitley Deans] Dundas, the Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, and on the outbreak of the war with Russia was fortunate enough to be selected for service with a small detachment of bluejackets, which, under the command of Lieutenant Glyn of the Britannia, were sent up the Danube at the end of June to man some small river gunboats at Rustchuk, then the headquarters of Omar Pasha, the Commander-In-Chief of the Turkish forces. Travelling rapidly on horseback from the coast the small party of seamen, with some 30 sappers, arrived at Rustchuk on July 10, three days after a small Turkish force had seized Giurgevo, on the opposite or northern bank of the Danube. Against this force Prince Gortschakoff was now moving with 70,000 men, intent on driving the Turks back across the river, and Omar Pasha, immediately turning the gunboats over to Lieutenant Glyn, directed him at all hazards to hold a creek which separated the Russian forces from the town. Checked in his advance by their fire, Prince Gortschakoff, uncertain as to the strength of the English force which he was now facing, hesitated. While he was hesitating, English and Turks were working hard, and the sappers under Captain Bent, R.E., assisted by the seamen, succeeded in throwing a bridge of boats across the river to Giurgevo; upon which Prince Gortschakoff, seeing he would have to deal with the whole Turkish army, fell back upon Bukarest, leaving the Turks masters of the lower Danube. For his services while employed with the Turkish army the Prince of Leiningen received from the Turkish Government a gold medal for distinguished service in the field, and was further promoted to lieutenant as soon as he had passed the necessary examinations. In April, 1855, he was appointed as lieutenant to the Duke of Wellington, the flagship of Rear-Admiral Dundas in the Baltic, and in that ship and the Cossack he took part in the bombardment of Sveaborg and other operations in the Baltic.

As a captain, the Prince commanded, the Magicienne, one of the 16-gun paddle frigates in the Mediterranean, 1862-63, and from her was transferred to the command of the Royal yacht, which appointment he held until his promotion to rear-admiral on December 31, 1876. It was almost during the last year of his tenure of the command of the yacht that the unfortunate collision occurred between the Alberta, which on the evening of August 18, 1875, was conveying her late Majesty from Cowes to Portsmouth, and the small schooner yacht Mistletoe, resulting in the sinking of the latter and the drowning of Miss Peel, a young lady on board at the time, with the mate and one of her crew, while the sailing-master also succumbed to injuries he received from a falling spar. At the time of the collision the Alberta was crossing Stokes Bay, and on her bridge were the Prince of Leiningen, Commander Fullerton, and Staff-Captain Welch, who was navigating her. It may he mentioned that Captain Welch had had charge of the Alberta and her predecessor, the Fairy, for 27 years, during the whole of which long period not a single mishap had occurred to either vessel while in his hands, and it may be safely said that no more experienced or skilful navigating officer could be found anywhere. The Mistletoe, which was the property of a Mr. Hayward, of Manchester, had been cruising about Spithead all the afternoon, and there seems no doubt that she had edged down in order that the Royal yacht should pass close to her; immediately before the collision she was running with the wind well free ahead of the Alberta and steering an almost identical course, and it was, of course the duty of the Alberta to keep clear of her; but it was also equally the duty of those in charge of the Mistletoe, when they found the Royal yacht rapidly approaching, to keep steady on their course without altering their helm until the steamer had passed. Owing to the carelessness with which many yachts were sailed and the curiosity of people on board them to see the Queen, the Alberta on these passages was continually having close shaves, but, steaming fast, she answered her helm easily, and, as she was smartly handled, no accident had ever occurred. On the present occasion, Captain Welch naturally imagined that the Mistletoe would, in accordance with the rules of the road, keep steadily on her course, and as the Alberta approached he altered her helm to pass clear. Unfortunately the man at the helm of the Mistletoe seems to have lost his head at the rapid approach of the Alberta, and, putting his helm down, he threw her right across the latter’s bows with the disastrous results recorded. The unfortunate incident naturally caused great excitement at the time, and the handling of the Alberta was subjected to much hostile criticism, while so strong was the feeling at Portsmouth against the Prince of Leiningen and his officers that they had to be protected by the police on their way to and from the Court-house, where the inquest on the bodies of the victims was held. The coroner's jury brought in a verdict of manslaughter against the Prince and Captain Welch, but the bill was of course thrown out by the grand jury at the next assizes. On the other hand, the Court of inquiry which was held at Portsmouth fully exonerated the Prince and his officers, and there seems to be no doubt that this verdict was the just one.

In the spring of 1880 the Prince of Leiningen was selected to succeed Rear-Admiral Waddilove as Second-in-Command in the Channel, but, Mr. Gladstone's Government coming into office before the appointment had been officially gazetted, Lord Northbrook, the new First Lord, took the very unusual step of cancelling it; so it was not until July 1, 1885, when he was appointed to the Command at the Nore, that the Prince had an opportunity of hoisting his flag, which he then flew for two years. This was his last service, and he retired under the age regulations in November, 1895. It was a great disappointment to the Prince that he never attained to the command of one of our active fleets, and there is no doubt that he felt keenly the slight put upon him by Mr. Gladstone’s Government in the revoking of his appointment.

Since he hauled down his flag at Sheerness the Prince has resided mostly at Amorbach. He married at Carlsruhe on September 11, 1858, the Princess Mary of Baden, who died on November 21, 1899, and by whom he had two children, Prince Emich Charles, who succeeds as Reigning Prince, and Princess Albertine, who died August 30, 1901. Prince Emich married in 1894 his second cousin, Princess Feodora Victoria Alberta of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, second daughter of his Serene Highness Hermann, Reigning Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, whose mother was a half-sister of Queen Victoria. There are three sons and one daughter issue of the marriage - namely Princess Victoria, Prince Emich (who now becomes Hereditary Prince), born in 1896, Prince Friedrich, and Prince Hermann.

The House of Leiningen is one of the princely families of South Germany who were mediatised after the Congress of Vienna, the founder of the line being John Philip Count of Leiningen, Dagsburg, and Hartenburg, who was born on December 25, 1539, but it was not until 1779 that the rank of Princes of the Holy Roman Empire was conferred upon his successors.

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