Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Heinrich forced to give up army post

April 24, 1908

Another day of bad news for Duke Heinrich Borwin of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.  He was recently put on a tight allowance by the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and now he has "been forced to sever his connection with the German army.

The Marquise de Fontenoy reports  that Heinrich,  "held a commission of lieutenant in the Third Regiment of Prussia Hussars and in the Second Regiment of Mecklenburg dragoons."  He is the only surviving son of Duke Paul Friedrich and his wife, Princess Marie of Windisch-Graetz.

The Duke is only 23-years-old, and has "managed to pile up debts of such a colossal amount," that no one in his family can help him "meet his obligations. As a member of one of Europe's oldest sovereign houses, he cannot "restore his shattered fortunes" by going into business.  The only career open "to men of his rank" -- the military -- is now closed to him.

Financial problems are not unknown to Heinrich and his family.  His parents were deprived of "the control of their fortune on account of insolvency" two years ago, and they were placed under a 'curatel.'  This means "the vestiges of their fortune and the remains of their income" were handed over to trustees who provide the ducal couple with an allowance, and "who have the say in all their expenditures."

Under this curatel, Duke and Duchess Paul cannot undertake "any contracts or obligations," or even fulfil their civic duties without the consent of the trustees.

Duke Paul is an uncle to the present Grand Duke.  He "forfeited his rights" to the throne when he married the "beautiful and fascinating" Princess Marie of Windisch-Graetz.  Paul lost his rights because he married a Roman Catholic.  After he converted to the Roman Catholic faith, his father wanted not only to bar him from the succession, but also wanted to disinherit him.  But the latter action was never carried out. 

After the death of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III at Cannes ten years ago, Duke Paul was "obliged to waive his rights to the regency of his nephew" in favor of his younger brother, Duke Johann Albrecht.  
Duke Johann Albrecht now serves as the regent of the Duchy of Brunswick.

Duke Heinrich Borwin is the second son. His elder brother, Duke Paul Friedrich "met with a violent death in a strange and mysterious fashion" several years ago.  He died after breaking his neck "while skylarking after dinner one night" at his villa in Kiel.

Heinrich also has one sister, Duchess Marie Antoinette, who was "one of the candidates for the role of consort" to King Alfonso XIII of Spain.  When Alfonso visited Berlin, the young duchess "figured conspicuously as at the fetes given in his honor."

The young duchess did not "hit it off" with Alfonso, and he looked elsewhere for a wife, and married Princess Ena of Battenberg.

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