64 Years on the Throne

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Today HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland marks the 64th year on the throne. Her father, King George VI, died on this date, February 6, 1952. Last September 2015, Her Majesty became Britain’s longest ruling monarch when she surpassed her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria (1837-1901) who reigned for 63 years and seven months.

Her Majesty is also the oldest sovereign to reign. Queen Victoria also held that record. She was 82 when she passed away in 1901. At age 89 Her Majesty broke that record seven years ago. This April 21, Her Majesty will turn 90 and many celebrations are planned in Britain for this momentous milestone.

Almost 90 and having been queen for 64 years Her Majesty shows no sign of slowing down. Her calendar is full, although maybe not as full as years past for the Prince of Wales has taken over some of her work. Still, unless some heath crisis appears Her Majesty will continue to press forward.

Although today we mark the 64th year Her Majesty came to the throne, within the Royal Family itself these dates are rarely acknowledged publicly. For royal historians such as my self and other royal enthusiasts this is a special day, for Her Majesty this is the day her father died and that is something to be noted but not celebrated. What we will celebrate is the dedication and the long life of service to her country and long may she continue to reign.

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January, the Gloomy Month

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Yesterday, January 22nd, was the 115th anniversary of the Death of Queen Victoria. But did you know that January has been a month where many British royals have died? We start with King George III who died January 29, 1820. His son, HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, predeceased his father and died 6 days prior on January 23, 1820. His anniversary is today. His daughter, Queen Victoria, died on January 22, 1901. Her grandsons also died in January. The eldest son of the then Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII), Prince Albert-Victor, Duke of Clarence, died January 14, 1892. His brother, King George V, died on January 20, 1936. King George V’s sister, Princess Louise, The Princess Royal, died on January 10, 1931. HRH Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, son of Queen Victoria and brother of King Edward VII, died on January 16, 1942. The Duke of Connaught’s youngest daughter, HRH Princess Patricia of Connaught (Lady Patricia Ramsay) died on January 12, 1974. Lastly, HRH Princess Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, longest surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria died on January 3, 1981. I may have missed some But January is a gloomy month for the royal family.

Who’s your Daddy? Part II

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One of the more notable royals with questionable parentage was King Alfonso XII of Spain. Alfonso was born in Madrid as the eldest son of Queen Isabella II. Officially, his father was her husband, Infante Francisco de Bourbon, Duke of Cadiz. The Duke of Cadiz was given the title of King Consort, one of the few in history, upon his marriage to his double first cousin, Queen Isabella II of Spain, on October 10, 1846. There is evidence that Isabella desired to marry the Duke of Cadiz’ younger brother, Infante Enrique de Bourbon, Duke of Seville. Shortly after their wedding night Queen Isabella II bitterly complained about her husband’s effeminate habits and mannerisms.

These facts had lead to considerable speculation that some or all of Isabella’s children were not fathered by Francisco; this speculation has been bolstered by rumors that Francisco was either homosexual or physically unable to complete the sex act. With Alfonso XII’s biological paternity uncertain, there has been speculation that his biological father may have been Enrique Puigmoltó y Mayans (a captain of the guard). This rumor was put forth by the Carlists as part of their propaganda against the queen.

Let provide some background on Carlism. In 1701 the French Bourbon prince, Philippe, Duc d’Anjou, grandson of France’s king, Louis XIV, inherited the Spanish throne. What the new King Felipe V brought with him to Spain was the ancient Salic Law which barred woman from inheriting the throne as well as passing along succession rights. This law was foreign to the Spaniards because there had been many queen regnants in Spain prior to the accession of the House of Bourbon. This law was not tested in Spain because between the reigns of Felipe V and Fernando VII each monarch successfully produced a male heir.

King Fernando VII, despite multiple marriages, had not fathered a male heir and this lead to a succession crisis in 1833 with the Salic Law being rescinded in Spain. In 1827 King Fernando VII’s third wife, Maria Josepha Amalia of Saxony, died. This forced the aging king into a hasty fourth marriage in order to father a male heir. His bride was Maria Christina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. The awkwardness of this union was that not only were they cousins multiple times over, King Fernando VII was also her uncle by both birth and marriage. Maria Christina’s mother, Infanta Maria Isabella of Spain, was King Fernando VII’s sister; both were born to King Carlos IV of Spain and his wife, Maria Luisa of Bourbon-Parma. Fernando VII did, however, have two daughters, with Infanta Isabella being the eldest and Infanta Luisa Fernanda being the youngest.

When Fernando VII lay dying his queen had him set aside the Salic Law, which thus made their young daughter succeed him as Queen Isabella II upon his death. Under the old Salic Law the late King Fernando VII’s brother, Don Carlos, Duke of Molina, was heir to the throne instead of any female. Don Carlos revolted and proclaimed he was the legitimate and rightful king and styled himself King Carlos V of Spain. Needing support, Queen Maria Christina (acting as Regent for her daughter) turned to the liberals. She issued a decree of amnesty on October 23, 1833. Liberals, who had been in exile, returned and dominated Spanish politics for decades. The liberals threw their support behind Isabella II and the Carlist Wars resulted. It was in this context that the rumors began flooding in years later that the future Alfonso XII was not fathered by Francisco, Duke of Cadiz, the legitimate husband of Queen Isabella II.

After a tumultuous reign, Isabella II and her husband went into exile with his wife in France in 1868 and adopted the incognito title of Count of Moratalla. In 1870 Francisco and Isabella were amicably separated but in time they actually became good friends. This friendship, which they had certainly not been while she was Queen regnant, was new. The 1874 restoration placed his son Alfonso XII on the throne.

So was Alfonso XII really fathered by Francisco, Duke of Cadiz, or was he really fathered by Enrique Puigmoltó y Mayans, or was this merely a rumor spread by Carlist enemies? From what I understand after reading about this issue from many historians is that the evidence does seem to point to the Duke of Cadiz being a homosexual and although that doesn’t rule out the possibility he could be the father of Alfonso XII, but given the fact that the promiscuity of Isabella II is also well documented, it is reasonable to doubt that Alfonso XII was really fathered by Francisco, Duke of Cadiz.

Who’s Your Daddy?

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When I began my interest in European Royalty one of my great pleasures, and still is to this day, is perusing genealogy charts and trying to memorize who all these people are and how many different ways they are connected to one another. However, at one point the thought occurred to me that these charts may not accurately reflect what actually happened. In other words, was the parentage of each royal accurate or was someone else, in reality, the father of certain children. I have discovered there are times when who the actual father of a royal really is.

In legal terms as long as the legal spouse acknowledges the paternity of the child then that child is said to be the legal offspring of the marriage. In all or royal circles this has been the majority practice. I know of only one case, Princess Louise-Auguste of Denmark (1771-1843), where paternity was well known not to be that of the queen’s legal husband, King Christian VII of Denmark, but he acknowledged the child as his anyway. It is broadly accepted that her real biological father was Johann Friedrich Struensee, the king’s royal physician and de facto regent of Denmark at the time of her birth. It was also known at the time that the mentally unstable king was estranged from his queen, Caroline-Matilda of Great Britain. After the affair the king and queen were divorced in 1772.

Struensee, who had initiated many modernizing and emancipating reforms, was arrested and executed for high treason for his affair with the queen that the same year. Christian VII reluctantly signed Struensee’s arrest and execution warrant under pressure from his stepmother, Queen Juliane-Marie, the power hungry queen led the movement to end the marriage and hopefully advance her son (Hereditary Prince Frederick of Denmark and Norway) in his claims to the Danish throne.  Caroline Matilda, retained her title of Queen but her children were taken away from her. She was eventually exiled from Denmark and passed her remaining days at Celle Castle in her brother, King George III of Great Britain’s German territory, the Electorate of Hanover. Her life was tragic. She died there of scarlet fever on May 10, 1775, at the age of 23.

Princess Louise Auguste of Denmark, though officially regarded as the daughter of King Christian VII, was, in fact, the daughter of Queen Caroline Matilda and Johann Friedrich Struensee. Their daughter had a better life than her mother and her actual illigitimacy did not affect her position in society. She was married to a Danish cousin, Frederick Christian II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg. He was born the eldest son of Friedrich Christian I, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1721–1794), and his cousin Princess Charlotte of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Plön (1744–1770). Until his father’s death, he was styled “Hereditary Prince of Augustenborg”.

This marriage was arraigned by Danish Chief Minister Andreas Peter Bernstorff, because he theorized that since a son of Louise Auguste could ascend the throne some day, it would be beneficial to arrange a marry to the “half-royal” and to keep her in the family. The result of this plan closely re-connected the Danish royal house’s two lines, the ruling House of Oldenburg and the offshoot House of Augustenburg. The marriage took place on May 27, 1786 and the 14-year-old Louise Augusta was married to the 20 year old Frederick Christian II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg at Christiansborg Palace.

The couple lived at the Danish court in Copenhagen for many years until the Christiansborg Palace fire of 1794 and the death of the elder Duke of Augustenborg, Frederik Christian I, 1721-1794, when her husband inherited his father’s the estate, title and the Duchy. The new radiant Duchess of Augustenburg was often the center of court activities, and was proclaimed the “Venus of Denmark”; she was the real female center of the Danish royal court even after her brother, King Frederik VI, married in 1790 to Princess Marie of Hesse-Kassel. Sadly the union was a mismatch for the spouses were different: Louise Augusta was extrovert, lively, beautiful and pleasure-loving, Frederik-Christian II was homely, serious, and only interested in philosophy and politics. This is where history repeated itself. Louise Auguste was said to have had many lovers, and the most notably among them was the doctor Carl Ferdinand Suadacini, who treated her for infertility and was believed to have fathered her three children. Unlike the situation with her mother and Friedrich Struensee, this rumor cannot be proven. Despite being a great-granddaughter of King George II of Great Britain and having many British royal cousins, Louise Auguste felt sympathy for the French Revolution and from 1789 onward held anti-British views.

Frederik-Christian II died on June 14, 1814. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Christian-August II, who was only sixteen years old. Duchess Louise Auguste took control of the Augustenborg estates and the children’s upbringing. However, the estate was turned over to Christian-August II, on his return from an extended foreign tour in 1820. After her short period as a regent for her son, Louise-Aguste then resided in the Augustenborg Castle, where she established an eccentric court. She had a close and warm relationship with her daughter, Caroline Amalie (September 28, 1796-March 9, 1881), who would become Queen of Denmark as consort to Christian VIII, but her relationship to her sons was tense. Louise-Aguste died at Augustenborg in 1843, when her brother’s reign in Denmark had already ended (Frederik VI 1808-1839) and Christian VIII (1839-1848)*, her son-in-law, ascended – she thus died as the mother of the then Queen of Denmark.

* Christian VIII (September 18, 1786-January 20, 1848) was the King of Denmark from 1839 to 1848 and, as Christian-Frederick, King of Norway in 1814. He was the eldest son of Hereditary Prince Frederick of Denmark and Norway and Duchess Sophia Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, born in 1786 at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen. His paternal grandparents were King Frederik V of Denmark and his second wife, Duchess Juliane-Marie of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.

This will be a relatively short series. The parentage of the following monarchs will be looked at: King Edward III of England, King Alfonso XII of Spain, Archduke Maximilian of Austria (Emperor of Mexico), Emperor Pavel of Russia.

Oh, here is another interesting bit of trivia. Princess Louise Auguste of Denmark was the grandmother of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg who was married to Princess Helena of Great Britain, daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

HM Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s Longest Ruling Monarch!!

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When I began my interest in British and European Royalty back in 1977 Queen Victoria had been Britain’s longest ruling monarch. Her Majesty, the Queen, had celebrated her Silver Jubilee, 25 years on the throne, and the thought of her becoming Britain’s longest ruling monarch and breaking her great-great-grandmother’s record was not on my mind. In 1989 Her Majesty passed Henry VIII of England’s 37 years on the throne and it was then I thought that maybe someday, in 2015 I calculated, she could become Britain’s longest ruling monarch. In 1989 the year 2015 seemed like a life-time away. In 1997 the Queen passed her name sake, Queen Elizabeth I’s 44 year reign and seeing how good her health was and the fact that her mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was 97 at the time and still going strong, lead me to believe this historic event could be achieved.

It has been a long time coming and now it is here. I do have to say that because the Victorian Era has been one of my favorite eras to study I do greet this day with a little sadness but I am happy to see the queen reach this historic milestone in her reign.

During her reign Her Majesty has shown herself to be the very picture of a dedicated, hardworking, constitutional monarch. Congratulations your majesty on reaching this historical milestone! May her majesty continue to reign for a long long time.

Historically speaking, since she is the longest ruling monarch in British history she has five more years to beat HIM Emperor Franz-Joseph of Austria-Hungary’s 68 years and nine more to beat Louis XIV of France and Navarre’s 72 years on the throne.

When Monarchs ruled.

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When I began my interest in royalty I was at first solely concerned in learning their particular genealogies. As I delved into the history of each country I began to be interested in the reigns of each monarch. I learned how monarchies survived going from periods of absolute power to the constitutional form we have today. Somewhere in the process I became a monarchist myself. With all the political infighting that occurs among politicians I think it is beneficial to have a figurehead as the Head of State. A Head of State that is symbolic of the nation and is above the petty partisan politics of the day. I think there are many beneficial aspects of having a Head of State being politically impartial for that gives them the opportunity of serving all the people and not just members of a particular party.

I need to be honest though, I do miss the days when Monarchs actually ruled and held some power. It is one of the things I enjoy about reading the history of these countries that were or are monarchies. For me it is an issue of power. In life some people have power and some do not. It is fascinating to read how those that held power used that power. So I find that the days when monarchs actually held power to be fascinating. Those times are even more interesting when a larger-than-life figure such as when Charlemagne or William the Conqueror or Louis XIV held power. I am sure I am romanticizing things because I know life was not all puppies, rainbows and roses under these monarchs. Yet things were not always terrible for there were monarchs that held power that did good for their country.

I look at King Edward I of England (1272-1307) as a good example. Historians report that the king could be a frightening individual and that he had a reputation because of his intimidating fierce temper also with a domineering physical presences. There is an anecdotal story about when the Dean of St Paul’s, who desired to confront the king about his broad level of taxation, was so intimidated by the king that he collapsed and died instantly the moment he was brought into the King’s presence. That sounds crazy to our modern scientific minds but it could be plausible that the stress of meeting this intimidating King could lead to sudden cardiac arrest. There was also a report that when the Prince of Wales (future Edward II) petitioned and pressured his father to grant an earldom for his personal favorite and friend, Piers Gaveston, the King grew impatient with his sons demands and the King exploded in anger and purportedly tore out handfuls of his son’s hair!

Edward is also known for the establishment of the Model Parliament. Parliament gathered on a fairly regular basis during his reign. In 1295 the king brought about some significant changes. At this point in history the English Parliament contained the secular (the nobility) and ecclesiastical lords (Priests and Bishops). In 1295 Edward also summoned two knights from each county and two representatives from each borough. These two representatives from the boroughs planted the seed for what eventual lead to the development of the House of Commons. Although having commoners sit in Parliament was not exactly new, the precedent setting status of these commoners was the fact that they were given, by the king, authority (plena potestas) of their communities, to give assent to the decisions made in Parliament. No longer were these commoner representatives there to give a rubber stamp and to simply assent to decisions already made by the upper magnates, they now met in Parliament with the full authority nobility and ecclesiastical lords had. This structure eventually became the standardized formation for later Parliaments.

Edward I was a mixture of being a good king with some bad personality issues. Now I do support Classical Liberal ideals of the democratic principles that came of age during the Enlightenment period where we have a right to select those that rule over us. However, I do enjoy reading about these monarchs such as Edward I who did hold power and also, with his creation of a more egalitarian Parliament, demonstrated that many times they could be effective and efficient rulers. While it is best to now have the monarchs as being above partisan politics you really cannot blame a monarchist for missing the good old days when they held actual power.

Limits of Power for Exiled Royal Families: Conclusion

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On December 30, 2007, King Michael signed a new Statute of the Royal House, called Fundamental Rules of the Royal House of Romania. These new House Laws were implicitly based on European Union type of legislation, specifically those laws which addresses the European Convention on Human Rights, which, however, does not guarantee any right to reign as a monarch of any country, and also on the values of the Romanian society. The document clarifies the order of inheritance of King Michael’s fortune and rights to the Romanian throne. This new Statute, thought by some to be undemocratic because it was not approved by any Parliament, is mostly symbolic but it does attempt to replace the old 1884 Statute Law. According to this new Statute, the first in line of succession is King Michael’s eldest daughter, newly titled “Crown Princess of Romania” and “Custodian of the Romanian Crown,” Princess Margarita. In 1997 King Michael had already designated her as successor to “all” his “prerogatives and rights”, indicating his desires for a gender-blind succession to the throne.

The argument has been made that Crown Princess Margarita will only become head of the royal family because King Michael, as a constitutional monarch, is unable to alter the old and inoperative succession laws which had excluded females and their descendants. King Michael was not and is not an absolute monarch who could rule via the strength of his will. It is only the Romanian Parliament that could ameliorate these laws along with the Constitution where these precepts had been included. Also, the Romanian Parliament will not alter the succession to a monarchy that no longer exists. In order to legally alter the succession the monarchy would need to be restored. There is however, an alternative view which finds that Michael is able to alter these succession laws alone, effectively making him an absolute monarch. This view stems from the rreality of the fact that during his second reign, Michael neither was sworn into office by any Parliament, nor did he take any oath to any Constitution. Instead King Michael was instead anointed king by the Romanian Orthodox Church. The second opinion ignores the fact that Michael never personally claimed to be an absolute monarch, nor had he acted as such, and he always supporting democracy and the constitutional monarchy.

During the week this came in over the news….This is copied from Royal Central…

“In a statement released yesterday, Romania’s King Michael has withdrawn his grandson’s royal title. The former Prince Nicolae of Romania, once third in succession to the throne, and only grandson of the ninety-three-year-old king will now be known as Mr. Nicholas Medforth-Mills. He became third in line to the throne on April 1st, 2010 at the age of twenty-five.

King Michael reached this conclusion by observing his grandson’s behavior in public and in private. Ioan Luca Vlad explained further, “When you are in public, you must have a certain attitude, you must comply with certain norms. If you do this, but you are not happy with it, this won’t last long, so you must make a preventive step,”

The king is merely thinking of the future, stated the Royal House’s representatives. It isn’t a punishment for the former prince, who was in agreement with his grandfather’s decision. Mr. Methford-Mills issued his statement, “The royal life means leading my life in a way I find hard to accept,” he said. “For this reason, I accept with a lot of pain in my heart the decision of His Majesty King Michael for me.”

I have given it some great thought. One problem, as I already stated it, is that these House Laws/Constitutions were written at a time when these thrones were extant. This forever sets them in stone and there is no legal means to change them. If these families were still reigning there would be a legal means of altering the House Laws.

In the majority of these former ruling families, most holding their titles in pretense, there is still considerable wealth and estates to consider and who should inherit these vast holdings are some of the problems the heads of these former ruling families face. In the past these issues were decided legally and while the courts today can rule on these issues they do not have jurisdiction over the claims of titles and thrones that no longer exist. There are limits.

Many of these former ruling families had strict marriages laws/requirements and rules on who was and was not a dynast. Why does this still matter? As I mentioned there is still wealth and land to be inherited but more than that, some of these former reigning families still hold places of privilege and high profile levels of service to their country. The heirs to the thrones of Romania, Serbia, Germany and Portugal all have some relationships with the government either on a national level or local level. For instance, the wedding of the pretender to the Portuguese throne was televised and attended by the Prime Minister and the President of Portugal as well as other foreign dignitaries. When the Prince of Prussia, heir to the German Empire, married in 2011 the religious wedding was broadcast live by local public television. The formal dinner, which many members of German and European royal families attended, was held in the Orangery Palace at Sanssouci Park.

There still is a lot at stake. For instance, the Prince of Prussia (Prince Georg-Friedrich) was under a lot of pressure to marry someone of equal status after his great-great grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm II, placed a stipulation in his will that only those of equal marriage were eligible to inherit his vast wealth and headship of the Royal House. The eldest children of Prince Georg-Friedrich’s grandfather, Prince Louis-Ferdinand (1907-1994), did not marry equally so Prince Louis-Ferdinand named his grandson (born of an equal marriage) as heir to the estate and the Headship of the Royal House. This was contested in the courts by Prince Georg-Friedrich’s uncles and although he eventually won, he too, had to marry equally. His wife, the current Princess of Prussia, was born Her Serene Highness Princess Sophie of Isenburg. Although the court could rule on the inheritance it could not rule on the Headship of the Royal House because the monarchy was no longer existing so it had no jurisdiction over pretense to titles.

Times have changed and monarchies in order to survive also need to change with the times. In 1936 King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom of Great Britain had to abdicate in order to marry the woman he loved. This caused great scandal. Today, attitudes on divorce and equal marriage have changed. When the Prince of Wales married his former mistress in 2005 it was accepted by most. When Crown Prince Haakon of Norway married a woman that had had a child from a previous relationship, it was accepted although it did cause a minor uproar. If these former ruling families want to stay relevant and not disappear into the dust bins of history I think they need to be allowed to change and adapt.

I don’t think old House Laws and Constitutions need to tie the hands of these Heads of former reigning Houses. For practical reasons they should not. As we have seen issues and problems do come up in these families and they do need to be addressed and I think the Heads of former reigning Houses need to have some freedom to address these problems and change the Laws as the times change.

The limits of power of monarchs in exile: Part II

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 Last week I wrote of the controversy surrounding the disputed successor to the Headship of the Royal House of Saxony. This raises the question of does the head of these former ruling houses have the power to change centuries old house laws? With so many disputes after the head of the house dies, I guess the consensus is that they do not have that power or right. I think what may be closer to the truth is that the heads of these former ruling dynasties is that they have no power to make their new laws or ruling stick past their tenure as head of the house.

The Imperial House of Austria has been somewhat more successful in changing their house laws. They had had very rigid marital laws and when the now head of the house, Archduke Karl (Emperor Karl II to his supporters) married in 1993 to Baroness Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza. The marriage received the dynastic authorization of Karl’s father, Archduke Otto who was then head of the House of Habsburg, despite objections from some members of the dynasty because the brides family was not aristocratic enough. Baroness Francesca is the only daughter of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon, a European industrialist, and his third wife, Fiona Campbell-Walter. The Thyssen-Bornemisza family is of the nobility of pre-republican Hungary and Transylvania, but since they did not descend in the canonically legitimate male line from a family of dynastic, mediatised or alter Adel status, many former Habsburg family members protested the marriage. Since that time Otto amended the rigid marriage rules to allow marriages into noble families that would not have been deemed acceptable during the times when the dynasty ruled.

Romania is another case. King Michael was ousted in 1946 (many say illegally) and he leaves no male heir. His eldest daughter is Princess Margarita and in 2007 the king designated her as his heir with the titles of “Crown Princess of Romania” and “Custodian of the Romanian Crown.” This is technically against the Romanian kingdom’s last democratically approved constitution of 1923 which was in effect while the monarchy was extant. That constitution stated that upon the death of King Michael, and should he have no sons, the claim to the Crown devolves once again upon the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family from which the Romanian royal family descends.

The Constitution of 1923 provides for an agnatic primogeniture (basically the “Salic law”) which means males only may inherit the throne, barring females, and females may not pass succession rights to their children. However, the 1923 Constitution is no longer in affect but many feel that the traditions behind those ancient laws still carry the rule of the day. Under the old constitution the next in line to the Romanian throne are the descendants of Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince of Hohenzollern (1924-2010).

These are the Hohenzollern members in line to the throne under the old Constitution.

  1. Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern (b. 1952)
  2. Alexander, Hereditary Prince of Hohenzollern (b. 1987)
  3. Prince Albrecht of Hohenzollern (b. 1954)
  1. Prince Ferdinand of Hohenzollern (b. 1960)
  2. Prince Aloys of Hohenzollern (b. 1999)
  3. Prince Fidelis of Hohenzollern (b. 2001)

The Romanian situation is complex and so I will continue with this next week and then give my overall opinion on if a former monarch or head of a former ruling dynasty does have the right to change their house laws.

The limits of power of monarchs in exile

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One of the problems in royal families that no longer rule, surrounds the ability to change the house laws that governed the family. Often, though not always, these house laws also formed parts of the constitution of the State. The problem becomes that when the house laws are no longer functional or realistic yet amending the constitution is impossible for the throne is gone and the constitution which governed the country is frozen in time and not amenable.

The old Royal House of Saxony is a prime example of this problem. HRH Prince Maria Emanuel, Margrave of Meissen became head of the Royal House of Saxony upon the death of his father, HRH Prince Friedrich Christian, Margrave of Meissen on August 9th, 1968. Since Prince Maria Emanuel fathered no legitimate children, he chose as his eventual heir Prince Alexander of Saxe-Gessaphe, the son of his eldest sister Princess Anna and her late husband Prince Robert of Gessaphe a descendants of a Lebanese Christian family which ruled a province north of Beirut). On June 1st, 1999 Prince Maria Emanuel formally adopted Alexander who had married Princess Gisela of Bavaria in 1987. In 1997 the surviving male dynasts of the Albertine line of Wettins (House of Saxony) consented to the Margrave’s decision. On July 23rd, 2012 HRH Prince Maria Emanuel, Margrave of Meissen passed away at the age of 86 having been head of the Royal House of Saxony for 44 years.

Immediately after Maria Emanuel’s death, his brother, Prince Albert of Saxony, ignored the 1997 agreement and assumed headship of the House of Saxony with the title Margrave of Meissen. Prince Alexander of Saxe-Gessaphe also assumed the headship to the Royal House of Saxony with the title Margrave of Meissen. However, Prince Albert’s claim were short lived for he died a few months after his brother dying on October, 6 20112. Since this time the claims to the headship of the house have been disputed.

Recently as a joint statement was issued by the three heads of the Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin: Prince Michael of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Duke of Saxony, Count of Wettin, Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Duke of Saxony, Duke Conrad of Saxe-Meiningen, Duke of Saxony: The statement makes three announcements in reference to Alexander Prinz von Sachsen:

1. as an adopted Prinz von Sachsen he does not belong to the nobility, but is a non-noble bearer of the name; 2. he is not a blood member of the House of Wettin; 3. he is not the head of the Albertine branch of the House of Wettin, nor the bearer of the customary title Margrave of Meissen.

This statement places another throne and the headship of the House in dispute. However, not only is the headship of the House in dispute, but the power and ability to alter the succession is in question. There are other cases I could site but the Royal House of Saxony is a prime example of the problem. Next week I will discuss my opinion on these problems and discuss other examples and why I think the way I do.

Until then, I would like to hear from readers what your thoughts on this issue is. You may leave your comments below.

The Earl of Athlone: German Ancestry, Conclusion.

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Duke Alexander of Württemberg (1804–1885) was the father of Prince Francis, Duke of Teck. In 1835, he married, morganatically, Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde (1812-1841), by whom he fathered three children: Claudine, Francis and Amalie. His wife was created Countess of Hohenstein in her own right and, following the rules of morganatic marriages, the children inherited their mother’s title as Count or Countess of Hohenstein from birth. They had no rights through their father to any royal status or inheritance. In 1841, his wife was killed, run over by horse, and this was such a devastating blow to Alexander that he became mentally unstable, a condition which lasted for the rest of his life. He died in 1885 at the age of 80.

Duke Alexander’s father was Duke Ludwig-Friedrich of Württemberg, brother of King Friedrich I of Württemberg and Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia. Duke Alexander’s mother was Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg, a great-granddaughter of King George II of Great Britain through his eldest daughter Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange who married Willem IV, Prince of Orange-Nassau and the first hereditary Stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.

Duke Ludwig-Friedrich was a general in the cavalry. He was briefly a high ranking commander in the Army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Duke Ludwig-Friedrich was also appointed the commander of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s army. He betrayed the Commonwealth by refusing to fight against Russian troops throughout the Polish–Russian War of 1792, while feinting illness. For his betrayal he was dismissed from his post, but never persecuted. His Polish wife, Maria Wirtemberska, divorced him shortly afterward after his treason became public knowledge.

On 28 January 1797 in Hermitage, near Bayreuth, Louis Frederick was married to Princess Henriette of Nassau-Weilburg (then of Nassau), daughter of Charles Christian, Duke of Nassau-Weilburg and Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau. The couple had five children:

1. Duchess Maria Dorothea Luise Wilhelmine Karoline of Württemberg (1 November 1797 – 30 March 1855); granted the style Royal Highness on 26 December 1805; married in 1819 Archduke Joseph of Austira, Palatine of Hungary (9 March 1776 – 13 January 1847).

2. Duchess Amalie of Württemberg (28 June 1799 – 28 November 1848); granted the style Royal Highness on 26 December 1805; married in 1817 Joseph, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg (27 August 1789 – 25 November 1868).

3. Duchess Pauline of Württemberg (4 September 1800 – 10 March 1873); granted the style Royal Highness on 26 December 1805; married in 1820 her first cousin, Wilhelm I of Wurttemberg.

4. Duchess Elisabeth of Württemberg (27 February 1802 – 5 December 1864); granted the style Royal Highness on 26 December 1805; married in 1830 Prince Wilhelm, Grand-Ducal Prince and Margrave von Baden (8 April 1792 – 11 October 1859).

Duke Alexander of Württemberg (9 September 1804 – 4 July 1885); granted the style Royal Highness on 26 December 1805; married, morganitically, on 2 May 1835, Countess Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde, and had issue (21 September 1812 – 1 October 1841); founded the second branch of the House of Württemberg, known as the Dukes of Teck. The Dukes of Teck settled in the United Kingdom and with the change in titles in 1917, when king George V relinquished all German titles, the Teck family became the Cambridge family.

I mention the siblings of Duke Alexander of Württemberg to show case that the Cambridge family has distant cousins throughout German royal and noble houses. If you follow the family tree through Duke Alexander’s maternal grandmother, Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau, you will find your way into various royal houses such as the Dutch royal house leading to Willem I The Silent, Prince of Orange, considered founder of the modern state of the Netherlands. Other ancestors of Duke Alexander was King George II of Great Britain (a German prince of the House of Hanover and Brunswick) and his wife Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach, who was the granddaughter of Albert II, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach. If you follow the Brandenburg-Ansbach line you will eventually arrive at King Christian I of Denmark. Another prominent ancestor to the Earl of Athlone is King Friedrich I of Prussia.

Even though the Earl of Athlone’s mother, Princess Mary-Adelaide of Cambridge, was also ethnically German as a member of the House of Hanover, her son was very German through his father’s Württemberg heritage. This does raise the question about nationality verse ethnicity which are both human constructs. The Earl of Athlone was born and raised in the UK and culturally was every inch British despite the fact that his ancestors came from Germany.

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