Fredrik Kaarle I

From Kaiserreich

Fredrik Kaarle I, King of Finland and Karelia, Duke of Åland, Grand Prince of Lapland, Lord of Kaleva and the North
The crown of the King

Fredrik Kaarle I (born Friedrich Karl Ludwig Konstantin on May the 1st 1868 in Holstein) is the current King of Finland. He was born in Holstein, Germany and is the brother-in-law of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany

Early life

Friedrich was born at his family's manor, Gut Panker, in Plön, Holstein. He was the third son of the then Prince Friedrich of Hesse, and his wife Princess Anna of Prussia, daughter of Prince Charles of Prussia and Princess Marie Louise of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. The elder Friedrich, a Danish military officer, had been one (and perhaps the foremost) of the candidates of Christian VIII of Denmark in the 1840s to succeed on the Danish throne if the latter's male line died out, but renounced his rights to the throne in 1851 in favor of his sister, Louise. The elder Friedrich was of practically Danish upbringing, having lived all his life in Denmark, but in 1875, when the senior branch of Hesse-Kassel became extinct, he settled in Northern Germany, where the House had substantial landholdings.

Eighteen days after his own birth, the baby Frederick's first cousin, the then Tsesarevna Maria Fyodorovna of Russia, daughter of his aunt Queen Louise of Denmark, gave birth in Saint Petersburg to Nicholas II of Russia, who would become Friedrich Karl's predecessor as the monarch of Finland (1894–1917).

On January 25, 1893, Friedrich married Princess Margaret of Prussia, the youngest daughter of the late Friedrich III, German Emperor and Victoria, Princess Royal, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her consort Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. They have six children, including two sets of twins:

Friedrich Wilhelm Sigismund (1893-1916), died in the Weltkrieg

Maximilian Friedrich Wilhelm Georg (1894-1914), died in the Weltkrieg

Philipp (1896) married to Princess Mafalda of Savoy (1902, Buchenwald), has issue.

Wolfgang Moritz (1896) married to Princess Marie Alexandra of Baden

Prince Christoph Ernst August of Hesse (1901) married Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark, has issue.

Richard Wilhelm Leopold (1901), unmarried

The Finnish throne

On the urging of the German Empire, Finland had declared independence from Russia on December 6, 1917, leading to a fierce debate on whether the new state should declare itself a republic or remain a monarchy. At the time of the declaration of independence, monarchists were a minority in the Finnish Eduskunta (Parliament), and Finland was declared a republic. After a civil war, and while the pro-republic Social Democratic Party was excluded from the Eduskunta, Frederick was elected to the throne of the Kingdom of Finland on October 9, 1918.

Lithuania had already taken a similar step in July 1918, electing Wilhelm Karl, Duke of Urach, Count of Württemberg as King Mindaugas II of Lithuania. For Latvia and Estonia, a "General Provincial Assembly" consisting of Baltic-German aristocrats, had called upon the German Kaiser Wilhelm to recognize the Baltic provinces as a joint monarchy and a German protectorate. Consequently Adolf Friedrich, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was nominated Duke of "the United Baltic Duchy" by the Germans.

Independent Finland had initially, like the Baltic provinces, close ties with the German Empire. Germany was the only power that had supported the preparations for independence, not the least by the training of voluntary Finnish Jäger troops. Germany had also intervened in the Finnish Civil War, despite her own precarious situation. Finland's position vis-à-vis Germany was already evolving towards that of a protectorate by spring 1918, and the election of Prince Frederick, brother-in-law of Wilhelm II, German Kaiser, was rather thought of as a confirmation of the close relations.

Politic J.K. Paasikivi was a staunch defender of the monarchy. These are the words he said to his pro-republic friend:

In this small country we all know each other, we have badmouthed each other tired, we have drank together. How can you think, that someone among us could achieve such a position and have such a large respect, that he as president could handle the issues of this country in such a way that the people would be satisfied? It's a whole other thing when one is a king. And if he even comes from a foreign land, he is free from all personal relations and can stay neutral enough and thus achieve the best success. Our nominee, Friedrich Karl, is capable, just and considering in every aspect.

The adoption of a new monarchist constitution had been delayed, and the legitimacy of the royal election was based upon the Instrument of Government of 1772, adopted under King Gustav III of Sweden, when Finland had been a part of Sweden. The same constitutional document had also served as the basis for the rule of the Russian Tsars, as Grand Dukes of Finland, during the 19th century.

After the German victory of the Weltkrieg, the position of the King was undisputed. The people welcomed their new monarch with open arms. His coronation was a grand ceremony and was reported in newspapers all over Europe. The King and his court along with the King's family moved into the former palace of the Russian Tsars in Finland, now known simply as the Royal Palace. The building lies on the edge of the Helsinki Market Square. The summer residence of the King is the Kultaranta (Gold Beach) castle in Naantali.

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