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Killed in battle: Prince Maurice of Battenberg


By Antonio Cánovas del Castillo y Vallejo - Mundo Gráfico, número 158 de 4 de noviembre de 1914, página 19, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Prince Maurice of Battenberg was Queen Victoria’s grandson, as he was the son of Victoria’s daughter, Princess Beatrice and her husband, Prince Henry of Battenberg. Prince Maurice of Battenberg was born at Balmoral Castle in 1891 and grew up in Great Britain. His elder sister, Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg married Alfonso XIII of Spain and was Queen Consort of Spain between 1906 and 1931.

The Prince enjoyed fast cars which led to several brushes with the law, including two speeding fines in his youth. Prince Maurice of Battenberg joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1911, in honour of his elder cousin, Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein who had been a member of the same regiment and died in 1900.

His Royal Highness Prince Maurice of Battenburg in Belgium. Photo: By Pablo Antonio Béjar Novella – http://www.thepeerage.com/p10068.htm, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Following the outbreak of World War I, the Prince served as a Lieutenant in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. In 1914, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps was placed outside the Belgian town of Zonnebeke in the western part of Flanders. Situated in the centre of the Ypres Salient, World War I destroyed the whole area, and the town was abandoned until the early 1920s.

The 23-year-old Prince was leading his company of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps forward for an attack when they came under massive shellfire. During the advance eastwards from a ridge outside the town, the battalion came under fire, and Prince Maurice was killed just on top of the hill on 27 October 1914. General Haig later wrote: “By the death of H.H. Prince Maurice of Battenberg the Army loses a most gallant and valuable officer. In peace and war, he has done his duty to King and Country.”

The grave of His Royal Highness Prince Maurice of Battenburg in Belgium. Photo: By Redvers at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

He was known as Prince Maurice of Battenberg throughout his life since he died before the British Royal Family relinquished their German titles during World War I. A memorial tablet to him and his brother, Leopold is placed in the Winchester Cathedral.

Prince Maurice’s mother, Princess Beatrice, declined the offer of Lord Kitchener to have her son’s body transported back to the UK. This was done in solidarity with all the other British families who were unable to bring home their deceased sons, brothers and husbands. Therefore, the Prince was buried in Ypres Town Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery on 31 October 1914.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.