Francis, Duke of Teck

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Duke of Teck
Photograph by Alexander Bassano circa 1888
BornCount Francis von Hohenstein
(1837-08-28)28 August 1837
Esseg, Slavonia, Austrian Empire
(modern-day Osijek, Croatia)
Died21 January 1900(1900-01-21) (aged 62)
White Lodge, Richmond Park, Surrey, England
Burial27 January 1900
(m. 1866; died 1897)
Francis Paul Charles Louis Alexander
German: Franz Paul Karl Ludwig Alexander
FatherDuke Alexander of Württemberg
MotherCountess Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde

Francis, Duke of Teck, GCB, GCVO (Francis Paul Charles Louis Alexander; 28 August 1837 – 21 January 1900), known as Count Francis von Hohenstein until 1863, was an Austrian-born nobleman who married into the British royal family. His wife, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, was a first cousin of Queen Victoria. He was the father of Queen Mary, the consort of King George V. Francis held the Austrian title of Count of Hohenstein (Graf von Hohenstein), and the German titles of Prince (Fürst) and later Duke of Teck (Herzog von Teck), and was given the style of Serene Highness in 1863. He was granted the British style of Highness in 1887.

Background and early military career

Francis was born on 28 August 1837 in Esseg, Slavonia (now Osijek, Croatia), and christened Franz Paul Karl Ludwig Alexander.[1] His father was Duke Alexander of Württemberg, the son of Duke Louis of Württemberg. His mother was Hungarian Countess Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde. The marriage was morganatic, meaning that Francis had no succession rights to the Kingdom of Württemberg. His title at birth was Count Francis von Hohenstein, after his mother was created Countess von Hohenstein in her own right by Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria.

He was educated at the Imperial and Royal Technical Military Academy from 1849 to 1853 and joined the Imperial Austrian Army as a lieutenant in the 1st Lancers in 1854. He transferred to the Guard Squadron in 1858 and later became a Captain (Rittmeister) in the 7th Hussars. He served as Orderly Officer under Count von Wimpffen in Italy during the Austro-Sardinian War and was awarded the gold medal for distinguished service at the Battle of Solferino and the bronze war medal, 1859.[2]

In 1863, Francis was created Prince of Teck, with the style of Serene Highness, in the Kingdom of Württemberg. He served during the Austro-Prussian War[citation needed] and retired from the Austrian Army when he married and moved to England in 1866.

Marriage and dukedom

Francis, Duke of Teck, and Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck, with Duke Philipp and Duchess Marie Therese of Württemberg in England, around 1866

As the product of a morganatic marriage, and without succession rights to the throne, Francis was not acceptable as a husband for princesses in most of the European royal houses.[3] Further, Francis had little income in comparison with other European princes. He thus married into a richer family, by marrying his father's third cousin (in descent from George II of Great Britain) Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, the younger daughter of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, and a granddaughter of George III.

The couple married on 12 June 1866 at St Anne's Church, Kew, in Surrey.[4] They had one daughter and three sons:[2]

He was created Duke of Teck by the King of Württemberg in 1871.[5]

Later military career

Teck was made Honorary Colonel of the 1st Surrey Artillery Volunteers on 15 June 1867 and continued as supernumerary Honorary Colonel of the 1st City of London Artillery after the units merged in 1883.[6][2] He was also made Honorary Colonel of the 49th Middlesex Rifle Volunteers (Post Office Rifles) on 16 August 1876.[7]

He was attached to the staff of British General Sir Garnet Wolseley during the Egyptian campaign of 1882. He received the silver medal for the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir, the Khedive's Star, and the Order of Osmanieh, first class.[2] On his return from Egypt he was gazetted a Colonel in the British Army.[8]

The Duke of Teck was made Colonel (Oberst) à la suite of the 25th (1st Württemberg) Dragoons "Queen Olga"[2] on 6 March 1889, and a Generalmajor in the Imperial German Army on 18 October 1891.[9] He was made a supernumerary Major-General in the British Army in July 1893[10] and a Generalleutnant in the German Army on 18 April 1895.[9]

Because Francis had no inheritance, the couple lived on Mary Adelaide's Parliamentary allowance of £5,000 per annum (equivalent to ca. £525,000 in 2013[11]), supplemented by income from her mother, the Duchess of Cambridge. Mary Adelaide's requests to her cousin, Queen Victoria, for more funds were met with refusal; however, they were granted a grace-and-favour apartment in Kensington Palace, London and a country house, White Lodge, the former Royal deer-hunting lodge in Richmond Park, Southwest London.

The Duke and Duchess lived beyond their means, leading to the build-up of large debts. In 1883, the Tecks fled the UK to continental Europe, where they stayed with relatives in Florence and Germany. They eventually returned to the UK in 1885.

Later life

With an Order in Council on 1 July 1887, Queen Victoria granted Francis the style of Highness, as a gift to celebrate her Golden Jubilee.[12] Despite this, the Tecks were still seen as minor relatives, with little status or wealth. Their fortunes improved when their only daughter, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck (known as "May" to her family) became engaged to the second-in-line to the British throne, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. There was initial opposition to the match from the Duke of Clarence's parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales: Arthur Balfour wrote to Lord Salisbury in 1890 that "(t)he Teck girl they won't have because they hate Teck and because the vision of Princess Mary haunting Marlborough House makes the Prince of Wales ill."[13] Nevertheless, the Queen gave her official consent to the engagement on 12 December 1891.[14] The death of the Duke of Clarence only six weeks later was a cruel blow. However, Princess May consented when the Duke of Clarence's brother (and next in the line of succession), Prince George, Duke of York, proposed to her instead.

In 1897, the Duchess of Teck died, leaving Francis a widower. He continued to live at White Lodge, Richmond, but did not carry out any royal duties.

In Who's Who, the Duke of Teck listed his recreations as "a little of all". He was President of the Royal Botanic Society and a member of numerous clubs, including White's, the Marlborough Club, the Bachelors' Club, the Army and Navy Club, the United Service Club, the Cavalry Club, the Naval and Military Club, the Travellers Club, The Hurlingham Club, the Ranelagh Club, and the Jockey Club, as well as the Adels-Casino in Vienna and the Herren-Casino in Stuttgart.[2]

The Duke of Teck died on 21 January 1900 at White Lodge.[15] He was buried next to his wife in the Royal Vault at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.[16]

There is a pub in Earls Court, London, called the Prince of Teck.

Honours and arms

Arms of Francis, Duke of Teck .[17]



  1. ^ Huberty, M., Giraud, A., Magdelaine, F. & B. (1979) L’Allemagne Dynastique, Vol. II (Alain Giraud, Le Perreux, France) p.524 ISBN 2-901138-02-0
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i 'TECK', Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 4 Jan 2012[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Pope-Hennessy, James; Vickers, Hugo (ed.) The Quest For Queen Mary, Zulieka, 2018, p20.
  4. ^ Weir, A. (1996) Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy, Revised edition (Pimlico, London)
  5. ^ James Pope-Hennessy, Queen Mary, Reprint Society 1959, p 61.
  6. ^ Army List.
  7. ^ "No. 26417". The London Gazette. 15 August 1876. p. 3714.
  8. ^ "No. 25169". The London Gazette. 17 November 1882. p. 5173.
  9. ^ a b Karl Spieß and Hans Ritter, Geschichte des Dragoner-Regiments Königin Olga (1. Württ.) Nr. 25 (Ludwigsburg, 1913), p. 509
  10. ^ London Gazette, 30 June 1893
  11. ^ "Bank of England Inflation Calculator". Bank of England. Bank of England. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  12. ^ Royal Styles and Titles – 1887 Order-in-Council
  13. ^ Balfour to Salisbury, 30 August 1890, quoted in Max Egremont, Balfour: A Life of Arthur James Balfour (Collins, 1980), p. 103.
  14. ^ "No. 26233". The London Gazette. 15 December 1891. p. 6911.
  15. ^ The Times Tuesday, 23 January 1900; p. 7; Issue 36046; col. D.
  16. ^ "Royal Burials in the Chapel since 1805". College of St George - Windsor Castle. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  17. ^ Maclagan, Michael; Louda, Jiří (1999). Line of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe. London: Little, Brown & Co. p. 30. ISBN 1-85605-469-1.
  18. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Württemberg (1907), "Königliche Orden" pp. 27, 67
  19. ^ "No. 23134". The London Gazette. 26 July 1866. p. 3871.
  20. ^ "No. 26871". The London Gazette. 9 July 1897. p. 3819.
  21. ^ "No. 26725". The London Gazette. 27 March 1896. p. 1960.
  22. ^ "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen". Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Großherzogtums Mecklenburg-Strelitz: 1878 (in German). Neustrelitz: Druck und Debit der Buchdruckerei von G. F. Spalding und Sohn. 1878. p. 11.
  23. ^ "Ritter-Orden: Oesterreichisch-kaiserlicher Leopolds-orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, 1883, p. 128, retrieved 5 February 2021
  24. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Hessen (1883), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen", p. 14
  25. ^ "Rother Adler-orden", Königlich Preussische Ordensliste (supp.) (in German), vol. 1, Berlin: Gedruckt in der Reichsdruckerei, 1886, p. 7 – via

External links

German nobility
New creation Duke of Teck
Succeeded by