Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was born in southwest Germany in an area now known as Bavaria. In 1840 at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace London, he married his cousin, Queen Victoria, and became Prince Consort.
Prince Albert, as husband to the Queen, had little direct power or official duties. To fill his time and create a sense of purpose he devote himself to running the Queen's household, estates and offices including guiding the Queen to show less partisanship when discussing political matters.
Albert also took on many public causes including;
President of the Society for the Extinction of Slavery and fort for abolition of slavery beyond the British Empire;
Chancellor of the University of Cambridge where he introduced educational reform and;
President of the Society for the Improvement of the Condition of the Labouring Classes, where he expressed his 'sympathy and interest for that class of our community who have most of the toil and fewest of the enjoyments of this world'.
Increasingly popular with the public, he enjoyed major achievements in the arts and science including help organise and promote the Great Exhibition of 1851, which showed off British manufacturing achievements to the world.
In 1861 Prince Albert died of typhoid died aged just 42. Grief stricken Queen Victoria, who reigned for a further 40 years and become the longest serving female monarch in history, commissioned a national memorial to recognise the British public's deep sense of loss.
At a cost of over £10,000,000 in today’s terms the 54m high memorial has a huge gilt bronze statue of Albert in a seated position looking south towards the Royal Albert Hall.
The ornate canopy, in the style of a Gothic ciborium, has marble figures standing at each corner representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Higher up there are figures representing manufacturing, commerce, agriculture and engineering; near the top are gilded bronze statues of the angels and virtues.
Around the base of the memorial is the Parnassus frieze depicting celebrated painters, poets sculptors, musicians and architects all reflecting Albert's enthusiasm for the arts.