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Friedrich-Franz IV (Friedrich Franz Michael; April 9, 1882 – November 17, 1945) was the last Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and regent of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He inherited the throne when he was fifteen years old in 1897 and was forced to renounce it in 1918.

Friedrich-Franz IV, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Born on April 9, 1882, Grand Duke Friedrich-Franz IV was the son of Friedrich-Franz III, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, then hereditary Grand duke, and Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, the second of the seven children of Grand Duke Michael Nicolaievich of Russia and his wife, Grand Duchess Olga Feodorovna (born Princess Cecilie of Baden). Friedrich-Franz IV was also a grandson of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia.

Friedrich-Franz III, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia

Friedrich-Franz IV was born in Palermo, Sicily at Villa Belmonte where his parents were staying to alleviate the faltering health of the hereditary Grand duke. Friedrich-Franz’s father suffered from a weak heart, chronic asthma, and acute eczema and had to live part of the year away from Mecklenburg in a warmer climate. Friedrich-Franz’s mother, raised in the splendor of the Russian imperial court and the Orthodox church, never got used to the provincial austerity of the Lutheran court of Schwerin, preferring to live abroad.

Friedrich-Franz was one year old when he became the Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin at the death of his grandfather Friedrich-Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin on April 15, 1883. Friedrich-Franz IV had an older sister, Alexandrine and a younger one, Cecilie. The three children were raised with simplicity and a lot of freedom by royal standards.

Cecilie, Alexandrine and Friedrich-Franz of Mecklenburg-Schwerin with their mother Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Theirs was a polyglot household. The three siblings, who would remain very close throughout their lives, learned English, French, German and Russian. The family spent only half of the year in Schwerin during the summer months. They stayed as little time as possible in Schwerin Castle surrounded by a lake, preferring Gelbensande, a hunting lodge near Rostock and the Baltic Sea. There, the family led the simple life they preferred. Friedrich-Franz III spent most his time hunting, while Anastasia and the children rode or drove out, visited local people or enjoyed the beach and the surrounding forest. Every year from November until May, they lived in Villa Welden in Cannes where they sailed with their father and swam in the Mediterranean.;On their journey back to Germany they stopped in Paris.

Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Frederick Francis IV succeeded his father as Grand Duke upon his death on April 10, 1897. He had just turned fifteen the day before. As he was a teenager, due to his minority, the grand duchy was governed by his uncle Duke Johann-Albrecht as regent. Friedrich-Franz’s mother, Grand Duchess Anastasia preferred to remain in France while he continued the long preparation to eventually assume the throne. The following year, his older sister, Alexandrine married the Danish Crown Prince (future King Christian X in 1912). His mother and younger sister Cecile visited him frequently in Dresden and during their stays, they would go out for long drives in a carriage and horses bought for him from Schwerin. In 1903, the young Grand Duke moved to Bonn, where he attended university and studied administration and law. Adolf Langfeld was appointed as his study advisor.

On April 9, 1901 Friedrich-Franz IV came of age, ending the regency and beginning his control of the government in Schwerin. In 1907 the Grand Duke promised a constitution to his subjects. The duchy had always been under a feudal system of government, the grand duke having the executive entirely in his hands (though acting through ministers). The duchy shared a diet (Landtag), which met for a short session each year. At other times they were represented by a committee consisting of the proprietors of knights’ estates (Rittergüter), known as the Ritterschaft, and the Landschaft, or burgomasters of certain towns. The reform of the constitution failed in the face of opposition from parliament.

Marriage and issue

On June 7, 1904, Friedrich-Franz IV married Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland in Gmunden. She was the second eldest daughter of Ernst-August, Crown Prince of Hanover, and his wife Princess Thyra of Denmark, a daughter of Christian IX of Denmark, a daughter of Prince Wilhelm of Hesse-Cassel and Princess Charlotte of Denmark.


Alexandra of Hanover was a great-great granddaughter of George III, King of the United Kingdom and King of Hanover, therefore Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland was also a Princess of the United Kingdom.

Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland

They had five children:
* Hereditary Grand Duke Friedrich-Franz (April 22, 1910 – July 31, 2001)
* Duke Christian-Ludwig (September 29, 1912 – July 18, 1996) married Princess Barbara of Prussia, daughter of Prince Sigismund of Prussia
* Duchess Olga (1916–1917)
* Duchess Thyra (June 18, 1919 – September 27, 1981)
* Duchess Anastasia (November 11, 1922 – January 25, 1979) married Prince Friedrich-Ferdinand of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.



In 1913, a fire broke out at Schwerin Castle while the Grand Duke Friedrich-Franz IV, and Grand Duchess Olga, and guests were dining there. Everyone was able to make it out safely, although the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess had to apparently rush through flying sparks when making their escape. There were a reported $750,000 in damages, in which countless works of art, as well as important rooms were utterly destroyed. Certain reports blamed the fire on a vengeful servant, although an official court announcement stated it was merely an electrical issue.



Following the 1918 suicide of Grand Duke Adolph-Friedrich VI of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Friedrich-Franz IV took up the regency of Strelitz. This happened because the heir presumptive Duke Charles-Michael was serving in the Russian Army at the time and had indicated that he wished to renounce his succession rights.

Grand Duke Adolph-Friedrich VI of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Friedrich-Franz IV abdicated the grand ducal throne on November 14, 1918 following the German Empire’s defeat in World War I; the regency ended of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at the same time.

After his abdication, he was initially not allowed to live in Mecklenburg and had to move to Denmark. A year later, he was permitted to return. He recovered some of his former properties and occupied some of his former homes. Friedrich-Franz IV died on November 17, 1945 in Flensburg after being arrested by No6 RAF Security section on November 9, 1945. He was succeeded as head of the grand ducal house by his son Hereditary Grand Duke Friedrich-Franz.