Bellevue Palace, Duke Eduard of Anhalt, German Emperor Wilhelm II, Johannes-Michael Freiherr von Loën, King of Prussia, Prince Charles Franz of Prussia, Prince Eitel Friedrich of Prussia, Prince Joachim of Prussia, Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt
Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt (June 10, 1898 – May 22, 1983)
Her Highness Princess Marie-Auguste was born in Ballenstedt, Anhalt, Germany, to the then Prince Eduard of Anhalt and his wife Princess Louise Charlotte of Saxe-Altenburg, the daughter of Prince Moritz of Saxe-Altenburg and his wife, Princess Augusta of Saxe-Meiningen. Her father was a son of Georg, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, and a younger brother of Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg.
Her father, Eduard succeeded his brother Duke Friedrich II of Anhalt on April 21, 1918, but his brief reign came to an end five months later with his own death on September 13, 1918. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son Prince Joachim Ernst under the regency of Eduard’s younger brother, Prince Aribert.
Prince Joachim Ernst’s brief reign came to an end on November 12, 1918 with his uncle abdicating in his name following the German revolution. The duchy became the Free State of Anhalt and is today part of the state of Saxony-Anhalt. Duke Joachim Ernst joined the ruling Nazi Party in 1939. He died at the Buchenwald concentration camp after World War II as a prisoner of the Soviet Union.
Princess Marie-Auguste was raised in Dessau, the capital of the duchy of Anhalt. She had five siblings, but her elder sister Friederike and brother Leopold died while infants. Marie-Auguste was an elder sister of Joachim Ernst, Duke of Anhalt.
First marriage and Divorce
On March 11, 1916 in Berlin, Marie-Auguste married Prince Joachim of Prussia, the youngest son of German Emperor Wilhelm II and his wife Princess Victoria Augusta of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg.
Marie-Auguste and Joachim, who was Wilhelm’s last unmarried child, had been officially engaged since October 14 of the previous year. The wedding was celebrated at Bellevue Palace, and was attended by Joachim’s father and mother Empress Augusta Victoria, the Duke and Duchess of Anhalt, as well as other relatives. They had a simple Lutheran ceremony.
The couple shared common ancestry in King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia who was Princess Marie-Auguste’s great-great-great grandfather through Prince Ludwig Charles of Prussia the second son and third child of King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia and Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt.
Prince Joachim of Prussia was a great-great-great grandson of King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia and Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt through the couples eldest son King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia.
The couple had one son, Prince Charles Franz Josef Wilhelm Friedrich Eduard Paul (December 15, 1916 – January 23, 1975). Their grandson, Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia, married Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, a pretender to the Imperial Russian throne.
Following the German Revolution in November 1918, German Emperor Wilhelm II was forced to abdicate, thus depriving Joachim of his titles and position. Unable to accept his new status as a commoner, he fell into a deep depression.
The relationship between Joachim and Marie-Auguste had already started to deteriorate. The couple were divorced soon after the end of the First World War. The direct causes of the divorce are not known to the public.
According to one report, Marie-Auguste had previously abandoned her husband and child to run away with another man, had been forcibly brought back home on the orders of the Emperor, and had filed for divorce as soon as the war ended, when she saw that her husband’s family were at their lowest ebb.
Only weeks after the divorce was finalized, Joachim shot himself in Potsdam on July 18, 1920. One source reports that he had been in financial straits and suffered from “great mental depression”. His own brother Prince Eitel Friedrich of Prussia commented that he suffered from “a fit of excessive dementia”.
After Joachim’s suicide, Marie-Auguste’s son Charles Franz was taken into the custody of his paternal uncle Prince Eitel Friedrich. As the acting head of the House of Hohenzollern, he claimed this right, due to the fact that Emperor Wilhelm had issued an edict placing Hohenzollern powers in Eitel’s hands.
This action was later declared to have been unlawful, and in 1921, Marie-Auguste was given full custody of her son, despite that fact that she had previously run away from her husband and despite numerous servants having testified against her, with Eitel’s counsel arguing that Marie-Auguste was unfit to have custody of Charles Franz.
However, she appeared in court and pleaded that she was heartbroken, which may have helped to win the case for her. In 1922, Marie-Auguste sued her former father-in-law for the financial support that had been promised in the marriage contract between her and Prince Joachim. Wilhelm’s advocate argued that the laws of the House of Hohenzollern were no longer in force, so there was no longer a financial obligation to support her.
Second marriage and divorce
On September 27, 1926, she married Johannes-Michael Freiherr von Loën (b. 1902), a childhood friend. They were divorced in 1935, and Marie-Auguste reverted to her maiden name.
In 1980, Princess Marie-Auguste legally adopted the businessman Hans Lichtenberg, who subsequently took the name Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt. According to Prinz von Anhalt, who thereafter proceeded to sell knighthoods and marriages related to his new station, he gave her $4,000 a month (German sources say 2000 Deutsche Mark a month) in financial support.
Princess Marie-Auguste died on May 22, 1983 at Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany.