Karl Friedrich Alexander of Württemberg
* 6th March 1823, Stuttgart, now Germany
† 6th October 1891, Stuttgart, now Germany
Karl Friedrich Alexander of Württemberg was the third king of Württemberg.
Until he took the throne at the age of 41 (1864), Karl, the Crown Prince, lived in Stuttgart in the palace of the crown prince on Königstraße and in Villa Berg, the summer residence which he had had commissioned. His marriage to Olga, daughter of the Russian tsar, remained childless.
During his reign there were keys events such as the conclusion of a defensive and offensive alliance with Prussia, involvement in the Franco-Prussian war, and the founding of the German empire in 1871, to which Württemberg belonged as a federal state. He was considered to be more liberal than his father. He reinstated the freedom of press and association and introduced the right to vote in a general, equal, direct, and secret ballot for the people’s representatives of the second chamber. Karl was also well known for preferring to stay out of the public eye, procrastinating or handing over his governmental tasks to others.
In 1883 Karl met Charles Woodcock, a former evangelist and lecturer of his wife, Olga. Karl promoted him to increasingly influential positions, showered him with riches, and they were often seen together in public dressed alike. The pair’s relationship was common knowledge. It first caused a scandal when Woodcock began to take advantage of his influence over the king and therefore the government. Under great pressure, Karl was finally forced to end the long-term relationship with his beloved. His other relationships with men were no secret either. Karl of Württemberg was gay.