April 25, 1913
German aristocrats are debating the question whether Miss Nancy Leishman, daughter of the American Ambassador to Germany, "will ever be recognized as full Duchess." Will she even be able to call herself Duchess of Croy.
According to the New York Times, the consensus of expert opinions seems to be that she will not."
There will be legal proceedings to prevent the Duke of Croy from "conferring the rank of Duchess" on Miss Leishman after their marriage.
There is already a precedent in the Croy family, a "freak of fate," in a case begun on the Duke's behalf when when was a minor. The action was taken by his guardian with the "object of disbarring the offspring" of his cousin, Prince Philipp of Croy, who married an English woman, Elizabeth Mary Parnell. Miss Parnell was prohibited from being styled as Princess of Croy or "enjoying the prerogatives of the house of Croy."
The Duke of Croy now finds himself in the same situation. He is about to "contract a matrimonial alliance of the same kind" that he, as head of the house, had persuaded the courts to not recognize.
There are "certain members" of the Croy family with "long memories" who welcome an "opportunity" to not support the duke.
One expert said: "Two views may be taken of the Duke of Croy's position. One is that the ducal Croy title is a French title, and is not subject to any restrictions regarding equality of birth in marriage. Miss Leishman would thus be the Duchess of Croy, even if her children should be deprived of any rights to the family estates in Westphalia.
"The other view is that the Duke of Croy, who became a German sovereign in 1801, was thereby elevated to a rank above that of a French duke, which he previously was. His offspring, therefore, are to be regarded as mediatized with the incidental obliteration of the old rank and title of French Dukes.
"In this case Miss Leishman, as a morganatic bride, in Germany, could never, in Germany, at least, even take the name of her husband. She would suffer the same fate as Fraulein Marie Grathwohl, who had to content her self with the name Baroness Bronn after marrying Prince Karl zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg, a kinsman of the Kaiser.
"Everything depends on the latitude which the house laws of the Croy family permit the young Duke. I fear that neither he nor his prospective father-in-law has gone as thoroughly into the question as might have been done."
The Duke of Croy is a member of the German high nobility, who is not "subject to any ordinary jurisdiction," but his "own exclusive house laws."
The Croy family is of equal rank to the reigning houses. This was established in 1912, when the Duke's sister, Princess Isabella, married Prince Franz of Bavaria, third son of the Prince Regent. His aunt, the sister of his father, also Princess Isabella, has been married to for 35 years to Archduke Friedrich of Austria, brother of the Dowager Queen Maria Cristina of Spain.
But it is "fairly certain" that Miss Leishman, an American girl, will not be able to join the high German nobility, and no son would be permitted to succeed as Duke.