Alfred Ernest Albert, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1844-1900) was the third Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha reigning between 1893 and 1900. He was also a member of the British Royal Family, the second son and fourth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Kent and Earl of Ulster in the peerage of the United Kingdom on 24 May 1866.
In 1856 it was decided that Prince Alfred, in accordance with his own wishes, should enter the Royal Navy. Prince Alfred was promoted lieutenant on 24 February 1863, and captain on 23 February 1866, being then appointed to the command of the frigate HMS Galatea.
While still in command of the Galatea, the Duke of Edinburgh started from Plymouth on 24 January 1867 for his voyage round the world. On 7 June 1867, he left Gibraltar, reached the Cape of Good Hope on 24 July and paid a royal visit to Cape Town on 24 August 1867 after landing at Simons Town a while earlier. He landed at Glenelg, South Australia, on 31 October.
Being the first English prince to visit Australia, the Duke was received with great enthusiasm. During his stay of nearly five months he visited Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Tasmania.
On 12 March 1868, on his second visit to Sydney while picnicking in the beachfront suburb of Clontarf, he was wounded in the back by a revolver fired by Henry James OFarrell. The Prince was shot just to the right of his spine, and was tended for the next two weeks by six Florence Nightingale trained nurses led by Matron Lucy Osburn who were newly arrived in Australia (February 1868).
On the evening of 23 March 1868, the most influential people of Sydney voted for a memorial building to be erected, “to raise a permanent and substantial monument in testimony of the heartfelt gratitude of the community at the recovery of HRH”. This led to a public subscription which paid for the Royal Prince Alfred Hospitals construction.
Prince Alfred soon recovered from his injury and was able to resume command of his ship and return home in early April 1868.
Henry James OFarrell was arrested at the scene, quickly tried, convicted and hanged on 21 April 1868.
Prince Alfred reached Spithead on 26 June 1868, after an absence of seventeen months. He was also the first member of the Royal Family to visit New Zealand, arriving in 1869 on HMS Galatea. The Dukes next voyage was to India, where he arrived in December 1869 and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), which he visited the following year. In both countries and at Hong Kong, which he visited on the way, he was the first British prince to set foot in the country. The native rulers of India vied with one another in the magnificence of their entertainments during the Dukes stay of three months, and the Duke was even gifted a young asian elephant bull, from Jang Bahadur, which he brought back to England.