Monday, March 11, 2013

Princely death: Prince Alexander of Thurn und Taxis

March 11, 1937

Prince Alexander of Thurn und Taxis, Duke of Castel Duino, died earlier tonight at his home, Castel Duino, reports the Associated Press. 

He was 56 years old.  His second wife, the former Helen Holbrook-Walker, "was at his bedside."

Prince Alexander headed the younger branch of "one of the most ancient and powerful house of the 'higher nobility' in Europe.  Until the early party of 19th century, the princely house of Thurn und Taxis, "exercised on their huge estates all the prerogatives of kings."

For nearly 500 years, the house "held the postal monopoly of the Holy Roman Empire."

A businessman, Prince Alexander "had long been active in commercial enterprises" in Europe and the United States.  Before the World War, he served on the Austrian Emperor's privy council.  After the war,  "the part of the empire" where he lived was "ceded to Italy." 

He owned property and estates in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.  In 1925, his estate was valued at $17,500,000.

The Prince's widow, Helen, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin H. Walker of Detroit.  After her divorce from James Hazen Hyde in May 1932,  Helen moved to Italy, where she married Prince Alexander.

He was a naturalized Italian citizen, where he and his sons were styled as Prince della Torre e Tasso.  His eldest son succeeds as Duke of Castel Duino.

He is also survived by his three children, Raimundo, Ludwig, Margarete, Princess Gaetano of Bourbon-Parma, and  from his first marriage to Princess Marie de Ligne.

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