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Today marks the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Prince Albert, Prince Consort, who was born on this day in 1819. The second son of Ernest III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, he grew up in a turbulent family environment, and was privately educated before studying in Brussels, and at the University of Bonn, where he studied law, political economy, philosophy and the history of art. In 1840, Prince Albert married his first cousin, Queen Victoria, in a match orchestrated by their uncle, King Leopold I of the Belgians. The couple had nine children and had one of the famous love stories in history, though strategic marriages becoming the ancestors of most reigning and former European Royals, making him the ‘Grandfather of Europe’. While initially unpopular, Prince Albert became to be widely regarded for this role as a man of progressive and relatively liberal ideas, leading reforms in university education, welfare, the royal finances, slavery, and applying science and art to the manufacturing industry. A leading promoter of the Great Exhibition of 1851, the surplus was used to purchase land on which to establish educational and cultural institutions, including the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Imperial College London, the Royal Albert Hall and the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1861, the Prince Consort passed away after suffering from typhoid fever, at the age of 42, famously mourned by Queen Victoria for the next 40 years.
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