The Prince Adolphus, 1st Duke of Cambridge KG GCB GCMG GCH PC (Adolphus Frederick; 24 February 1774 – 8 July 1850), was the tenth child and seventh son of George III and Queen Charlotte. He held the title of Duke of Cambridge from 1801 until his death. He also served as Viceroy of Hanover on behalf of his brothers George IV and William IV. He was the grandfather of Mary of Teck, Queen consort of King George V and great-great-grandfather of the current monarch, Elizabeth II.
Prince Adolphus was born at Buckingham Palace. He was the youngest son of George and Charlotte to survive childhood. On 24 March 1774, the young prince was christened in the Great Council Chamber at St James’s Palace by Frederick Cornwallis, Archbishop of Canterbury. His godparents were Prince John Adolphus of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (his great-uncle, for whom the Earl of Hertford, Lord Chamberlain, stood proxy), Landgrave Charles of Hesse-Kassel (his first cousin once-removed, for whom the Earl of Jersey, Extra Lord of the Bedchamber, stood proxy) and Princess Wilhelmina of Orange (the wife of his first cousin once-removed, for whom Elizabeth Howard, Dowager Countess of Effingham, former Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte, stood proxy).
He was tutored at home until summer 1786, when he was sent to the University of Göttingen in Germany, along with his brothers Prince Ernest (created Duke of Cumberland in 1799) and Prince Augustus (created Duke of Sussex in 1801).
He was made honorary Colonel-in-Chief of the Hanoverian Guard Foot Regiment 1789–1803, but his military training began in 1791, when he and Prince Ernest went to Hanover to study under the supervision of the Hanoverian commander Field Marshal von Freytag. He remained on Freytag’s staff during the Flanders Campaign in 1793. His first taste of action was at Famars on 23 May. He was wounded and captured at the Battle of Hondschoote 6 September, but was quickly rescued. As a Hanovarian General-Major, he commanded a Hessian brigade under his paternal uncle, General Johann Ludwig von Wallmoden-Gimborn in Autumn 1794, then commanded the Hanovarian Guards during the retreat through Holland. Remaining in Germany, he commanding a brigade of the Corps of Observation, 22 October 1796 – 12 January 1798. He was made a British army colonel in 1794, and lieutenant general 24 August 1798. In 1800 – stationed in the Electorate of Hanover – he attended the foundation of a village in the course of the cultivation and colonisation of the moorlands in the north of Bremen and named the municipality after himself Adolphsdorf (since 1974 a component locality of Grasberg).
Over the course of the War of the Second Coalition against France (1799–1802), he travelled to Berlin in 1801, in order to prevent the impending Prussian occupation of the Electorate. France demanded it, as it was stipulated in the Treaty of Basel (1795), obliging Prussia to ensure the Holy Roman Empire’s neutrality in all the latter’s territories north the demarcation line of the river Main, including Hanover. Regular Hanoveran troops, therefore, had been commandeered to join the multilateral so-called “Demarcation Army.” His efforts were in vain. In 1803, he was senior army commander, and replaced Wallmoden as commander of the on the Weser 1 June. With the advance of French forces on one side and 24,000 Prussian soldiers on the other, the situation was hopeless. Cambridge refused to become involved in discussions of capitulation, handed over his command to Hammerstein (Ompteda claims he was forced to resign), and withdrew to England. A plan to recruit additional soldiers in Hanover to be commanded by the Prince had also failed.
In 1803, he was appointed as commander-in-chief of the newly founded King’s German Legion, and in 1813, he became field marshal. George III appointed Prince Adolphus a Knight of the Garter on 6 June 1786, and created him Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Tipperary, and Baron Culloden on 17 November 1801.
The Duke served as colonel-in-chief of the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards (Coldstream Guards after 1855) from September 1805, and as colonel-in-chief of the 60th (The Duke of York’s Own Rifle Corps) Regiment of Foot from January 1824. After the collapse of the Napoleon’s empire, he became Military Governor of Hanover 4 November 1813 – 24 October 1816, then Governor General of Hanover 24 October 1816 – 20 June 1837 (viceroy from 22 February 1831). He was made Field Marshal 26 November 1813. In his time as Hanoverian Viceroy, the Duke became name-giving for the Hanoveran Regiment of the Cambridge-Dragoons (German: Cambridge-Dragoner), stationed in Celle, where the Bundeswehr used their baracks, the Cambridge-Dragoner Kaserne, until 1995. The march of the Hannoversches Cambridge-Dragoner-Regiment is part of the Bundeswehr’s traditional music repertoire.
After the death of Princess Charlotte in 1817, the Duke was set the task of finding a bride for his eldest unmarried brother, the Duke of Clarence (later William IV), in the hope of securing heirs to the throne—Charlotte had been the only legitimate grandchild of George III, despite the fact that the King had twelve surviving children. After several false starts, the Duke of Clarence settled on Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. The way was cleared for the Duke of Cambridge to find a bride for himself.
The Duke of Cambridge was married first at Kassel, Hesse on 7 May and then at Buckingham Palace on 1 June 1818 to his second cousin Augusta (25 July 1797 – 6 April 1889), the third daughter of Prince Frederick of Hesse.
He was, as is shown in the list of issue below, the maternal grandfather of Mary of Teck, consort of George V. This makes Adolphus the great-great-grandfather of the present British monarch, Elizabeth II
From 1816 to 1837, the Duke of Cambridge served as viceroy of the Kingdom of Hanover on behalf of his elder brothers, George IV and later William IV. When his niece, Queen Victoria succeeded to the British throne on 20 June 1837, the 123-year union of the crowns of Great Britain (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1801) and Hanover ended. The Duke of Cumberland became King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover and the Duke of Cambridge returned to Britain.
The Duke of Cambridge died on 8 July 1850 at Cambridge House, Piccadilly, London, and was buried at Kew. His remains were later removed to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. His only son, Prince George, succeeded to his peerages.
Titles, Styles, Honours and Arms
Titles and Styles
24 February 1774 – 17 November 1801: His Royal Highness The Prince Adolphus
17 November 1801 – 8 July 1850: His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge
His full style at death was Field Marshal His Royal Highness The Prince Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Tipperary, Baron Culloden, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Member of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order
KG: Knight of the Garter, 6 June 1786
GCB: Knight Grand Cross of the Bath, 2 January 1815
GCMG: Knight Grand Cross of St Michael and St George, 20 June 1825 – later Grand Master of the Order
PC: Privy Counsellor, 1802
GCH: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order, 12 August 1815
Knight of the Order of the Black Eagle (Prussia)
Knight of the Order of St Andrew (Russia) 1844
The Duke’s arms were the Royal Arms of the House of Hanover, with a three point label of difference. The first and third points containing two hearts, and the centre point bearing a red cross. His arms were adopted by his youngest daughter, Princess Mary Adelaide, and her heirs included them in their arms quartered with the arms of the Duke of Teck.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had three children:
Prince George, Duke of Cambridge (26 March 1819 to 17 March 1904) married 1847, Sarah Louisa Fairbrother; had issue (this marriage was contracted in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act and was not recognized in Law).
Princess Augusta of Cambridge (19 July 1822 to 4 December 1916) married 1843, Friedrich Wilhelm, Grand Duke of Mecklenberg-Strelitz; had issue
Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge (27 November 1833 to 27 October 1897) married 1866, Francis, Duke of Teck; had issue, including Mary of Teck, later Queen consort of the United Kingdom.