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Paul C

A Saxe-Coburg/Seaforth Highlanders Mystery Award

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On 20 July 1911 Sergeant Donald Munro of the 2nd Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders was awarded the Gold Medal of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order by the Duke of Saxe-Coburg.

That Charles Edward, 2nd Duke of Albany, Colonel in Chief of the Seaforth Highlanders (and since 1905 as Carl Eduard reigning Duke of Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha) should have done so, in obvious connection with King Edward Vs coronation (22 June 1911) is not surprising.

What IS surprising is that this was the ONLY award made by the senior Saxe-Coburg monarch to that regiment!

While the throng of Victorias descendants (Charles Edward was her grandsonhis father having been her fourth son Leopold 1st Duke of Albany 1853-1884) might have been expected to have showered baubles within their respective gifts upon each others retinues, such was not the case here.

The only OTHER British subject so decorated on this momentous occasion was one Arthur H. Beadle, butler, of London, who received the same EH5a gold medal.

No foreign Court or diplomatic bestowals. No Ernestines showered upon entourage officers of the Seaforth Highlanders.

The only Ernestines Carl Eduard handed out for this coronation visit went to four Germans at the Imperial Embassy

Ambassador Paul Graf Wolff-Metternich (Ernestine Grand Cross)

First Secretary Dr. Richard von Kühlmann (Ernestine Commander 2nd Class)

Third Secretary Hans Graf von Berchem (Ernestine Knight 2nd

And an obscure fellow described only as Bavarian 2nd Lt Retired, Imperial German Embassy named Horadam whose first name eludes all my efforts to identify him further (also Ernestine Knight 2nd Class).

So WHY did Sergeant Munroand Sergeant Munro ALONEreceive this award from his Colonel-in-Chief?

And would it have fallen into the category of an officially recognized, London Gazette approved award, or simply been accepted as a courtesy?

Duke Charles Edward/Carl Eduard (1884-1954) was a strangely tragic and rather pathetic man. Like the last Duke of Brunswick, but for the accident of being available for the throne of the German main office, he might well have lived his whole life as an Englishman. Perhaps his sudden Teutonization accounts for why CE/CE desperately over-reached in everything thereafter. A vengeful (and with hindsight suicidally stupid Parliament) stripped British titles from German holders like Carl Eduard in 1919, leaving him socially exiled. He flung himself into absurd wannabe affiliations first with Freikorps veterans (he was never a Freikorps member), and from there slid into further and further right wing politics until he became one of the ex-Royal legitimizers of the NSDAP, accumulating Party uniforms and titles as well as being named head of the Nazified German Red Cross. But at least his family connectionwhich spared his life over embarrassing potential Second wartime chargeswas responsible for cousin King George VI carving the Windsor bit of the former principality out of Thuringia and enabling the residents of Coburg to live under West Germany rather than the DDR.

My thanks to Paul for posting this since I am not online. Rick Research

Edited by Paul C

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Thank you Paul for further enlightening me on my grandfather's mystery medal. I do have the attachment that you posted along with a number of others. I was satisfied that he had received the medal as was stated in your document "for loyal service" but of course you have now raised the question - why was only one medal presented & why was he the one chosen to receive it? I wonder if anyone is able to answer that question

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