Who was Albert’s mother, Princess Louise? Meet Queen Victoria’s mysterious mother-in-law

The true story of the German princess, who didn't live to see her son marry the British monarch


Who was Prince Albert’s mother?

Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, was just 16 years old when she married Ernest III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in 1817, five years after his intended marriage to a Russian grand-duchess had been called off.


The pair had two children, Ernest (who inherited his father’s lands and title) and Albert, who married Queen Victoria and became Prince Consort of the United Kingdom.

In a memorandum, Queen Victoria described Louise and Ernest’s marriage as an unhappy one, and the story goes that both of Albert’s parents engaged in extramarital affairs.

Did Albert’s mother really run away with his father’s equerry?

As Albert tells Victoria in episode four of the ITV drama, Louise was alleged to have had an affair with Alexander von Hanstein, one of her husband’s equerries (the person charged with taking care of the royal house’s horses). She separated from Albert’s father and went into exile in 1824.


Louise moved to St Wendel in the Principality of Lichtenberg (now located in Saarland in south west Germany), a territory that had been given to Ernest in recognition of his efforts in the Napoleonic Wars, and never saw her children again.

Albert’s parents divorced in 1826, and with the marriage officially dissolved Louise then married her former lover, Von Hanstein (the equerry Albert mentions).

How did Prince Albert’s mother die?

She became quite the figure in Lichtenberg, even being dubbed the Landesmutter (mother of the land) in the region, but sadly died of cancer there in 1831.

Charles Grey, who compiled a biography of Albert under instruction from Victoria in 1867, wrote that the Prince never forgot his mother, and spoke of her with “much tenderness and sorrow”.

“One of the first gifts he made to the Queen was a little pin he had received from her when a little child.”


Albert and Victoria named their fourth daughter – and sixth child – Louise, in memory of her grandmother.