|credit: Art Beeche/Eurohistory|
Princess Maria Anna was the third of five children of Prince Friedrich Christian of Saxony (1893-1968) and Princess Elisabeth Helene of Thurn und Taxis. She was born December 13, 1929 at Bad Wörishofen. On May 1, 1953 at Paris, she married Roberto de Afif, a member of prominent Lebanese family. They had four sons, Alexander (1954), Friedrich Wilhelm (1955) and Karl August (1958). All three sons were born in Mexico where Roberto de Afif, a Maronite Catholic, grew up.
The succession to the royal house of Saxony is vested in Maria Anna's eldest son, Alexander, who is married to Princess Gisela of Bavaria. Maria Anna's elder brother, Prince Max Emanuel, Margrave of Meissen, named Alexander as heir after the tragic death of another nephew, Princess Johannes of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in August 1987. (Prince Johannes was the only son of Maria Anna's youngest sister, Mathilde, who was the second wife of Prince Johannes Heinrich of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. They were divorced in 1993. Prince Johannes was designated as the Margrave of Meissen's heir after it became apparent that he and his wife, Princess Anastasia of Anhalt, would not be able to have children. The main Saxon line allows for semi-salic succession, where a princess can pass rights through sons if the marriage was equal. In this case, the de Afif marriage was eventually deemed as equal, and Maria Anna's three sons and grandchildren are styled as Prince or Princess of Sachsen-Gessaphe.
In 1997, the Margrave of Meissen made it official that Alexander would be his heir. This was done with the approval of the other male dynasts (Prince Albert, Prince Dedo and Prince Gero.) He officially adopted Alexander on June 1, 1999. It was at this time that the three sons became known as Princes of Sachsen-Gessaphe.
Princess Maria Anna is survived by her three sons and eight grandchildren. She is also survived by her brothers, Maria Emanuel, Margrave of Meissen and Prince Albert, and two sisters, Princesses Maria Josefa and Mathilde.