Leiningen, Ernest Leopold Victor Charles Auguste Joseph Emich (DNB12)

LEININGEN, Prince ERNEST LEOPOLD VICTOR CHARLES AUGUSTE JOSEPH EMICH (1830–1904), admiral, reigning prince of Leiningen, was born at Amorbach, Bavaria, on 9 Nov. 1830. He was elder son of Charles, reigning prince of Leiningen (1804–1856), by his wife Marie, countess of Klebelsberg. His father was only son of Princess Victoria Maria Louisa of Saalfeld, by her first husband, Emich Charles, reigning prince of Leiningen; the princess's second husband was the duke of Kent, and by him she was mother of Queen Victoria, who was thus half-sister of Prince Charles of Leiningen, the admiral's father. The Duchess of Kent took much interest in her grandson Prince Ernest as a boy, and through the influence of his step-aunt. Queen Victoria, he entered the British navy on 14 March 1849. As a midshipman of the Hastings, flagship of Rear-admiral Austen, commander-in-chief in the East Indies, and afterwards in the paddle sloop Sphinx, he served during the second Burmese war of 1851–2, being present at the capture of Prome. At the end of 1853 he was appointed to the Britannia, flagship of Vice-admiral Sir James Whitley Deans Dundas [q. v.] in the Mediterranean, and at the end of June 1854 was sent up the Danube, with a small party from the Britannia under Lieut. Glyn, to man some river gunboats at Rustchuk, then the headquarters of Omar Ptislia, the Turkish commander-in-chief. Travelling overland, the party reached Rustchuk on 10 July. Three days before a small Turkish force had seized Giurgevo on the north bank of the Danube. Prince Gortschakoff with 70,000 men was moving on this Turkish force to drive it south across the Danube, and Omar, immediately tuniing the gun-boats over to Glyn, directed him at any cost to hold a creek which separated the Turkish position from the Russian advance.

The Russians were checked, and the and Turks meanwhile suceeded in throwing a bridge of boats across the river. Gortschakoff saw that this meant his having to face the whole Turkish army, and, drew off accordingly to Bukarest, leaving the Turks masters of the lower Danube. Prince Leiningen reoeived from the Toridah govemment a gold medal for distinginshed service in the field, and on passing his examination was promoted to lieutenant on 2 April 1855. He was at once appointed to the Duke of Wellington, the flagship of Vice-admiral Dundas in the Baltic, and in her and in the Cossack took part in the Baltic campaign, being present at the bombardment of Sveaborg. His remaining service as lieutenant was in the paddle frigate Magicienne, on the Mediterranean station, and in the royal yacht, from which he was promoted to oommander on 1 Feb. 1858. From this time onwards he was employed almost continuously in the yacht, first as commander, then as captain, his only foreign service being in 1862-3, when he commanded the Magicienne in the Mediterranean. His promotion to captain was dated 25 Oct. 1860, and he was still serving in the yacht when he reached flag rank on 31 Dec. 1876. On 18 Aug. 1875 the Alberta, with Queen Victoria on board, was crossing from Cowes to Portsmouth when, in Stokes Bay, she ran down the schooner yacht Mistletoe, which sank with a loss of four lives. The accident caused much excitement, especially locally, the tendency being to lay the blame on the royal yacht and her captain. It is important, therefore, to notice that at the time of the accident the prince, the commander, and the navigating officer of the Alberta were all on the bridge; also that it was a common thing for pleasure craft to go as near to the royal yacht as possible when a chance of seeing the queen offered itself. The coroner's jury at Portsmouth brought in a verdict of manslaughter against the prince and the navigating officer, Staff-captain Welch; but when the case went to the assises the grand jury threw out the bill. Meanwhile a court of inquiry was held at Portsmouth, and completely exonerated the prince and his officers; but this decision was, in the popular opinion, rendered somewhat obscure by the action of the admiralty, which voluntarily paid compensation for the loss of the yacht.

Early in 1880 the prince was selected for the post of second-in-command of the Channel squadron; but in April, after the appointment had been gazetted, the Gladstonian government came into office, and at once set the appointment aside. During the continuation of that ministry he was not employed, either as rear-admiral or after his promotion to vice-admiral on 1 Dec. 1881; but when Lord Salisbury's government was formed in 1885 he was, on 1 July, appointed commander-in-chief at the Nore, a post which he held until his promotion to admiral on 7 July 1887. This was his last service, and on 9 Nov. 1895 he reached the age for retirement. He was made G.C.B. m 1866 and G.C.V.O. in 1898. After hauling down his flag he resided chiefly at Amorbach, where he died on 5 April 1904. He married at Carlsruhe, on 11 Sept. 1858, Princess Marie Amalie of Baden, daughter of Leopold, grand duke of Baden; she died on 21 Nov. 1899. His only son. Prince Emich Edward Carl, succeeded him as reigning prince; his only daughter. Princess Albertine, died in 1901.

A marble bust by the prince's cousin, Prince Victor of Hohenlohe [q. v. Suppl. I], is at Wald Leiningen. A small head, painted by D'Albert Durade at Geneva in 1847, together with a painting by J. R. Say (1857) of the prince with his cousin, Prince Victor, both in naval uniform, are at Buckingham Palace.

[The Times, 6 April 1904.]

L. G. C. L.