Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen: dead

June 25, 1914

Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen died today at Meiningen, reports the New York Times.  He was 89 years old.

Georg II was "noted as a patron of the stage in Germany," and had reigned in Saxe-Meiningen for forty-five years.  He was the son of Duke Bernhard I.

The quarrel between Duke Georg and his father is "historic in Germany."  At the outbreak of the Austro-Prussian war, Duke Bernhard chose to side with Austria, and provided aid to that country against Prussia.

As Prussia won the war,  Duke Bernhard I was forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Georg, who became the ruler in September 1866. He was made a Lieutenant General in the Prussian army "for his loyalty."  Four years later, in the Franco-Prussian war, he led "two regiments of soldiers from Meiningen and had the honor of capturing the first French flags at the battle of Fröschweiler."  He fought in "nearly every battle" in the Franco-Prussian war, and "was conspicuous for gallantry.

Duke Georg also served as a member of Emperor Wilhelm I's staff, and remain a close friend of the Emperor's until his death in 1888.

After the war, he "devoted himself to the stage," and the court at Meiningen became "famous for its brilliancy and culture."

Duke Georg II was married three times. By his first wife, Princess Charlotte of Prussia, he had a daughter, Princess Marie Elisabeth, and son, Prince Bernhard, who succeeds as Duke Bernhard II.

His second wife was Princess Feodora of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who died in 1872.  They had two sons, Prince Friedrich and Prince Ernst.  A year after Feodora's death,  Duke Georg "contracted a morganatic marriage" with Helene Franz, who was created Baroness von Holdburg.  

The Duke was "attracted to her by her talent," as she was an actress on stage in Munich.   Their marriage was "a happy one."

In his final years, Duke George "suffered from acute deafness," and was forced to retire from an active life.  He enjoyed "hunting and traveling.   He also enjoyed acting as a stage manager at the Meiningen court theater, and was described as "most capable."

Duke Bernhard II is married to Princess Charlotte of Prussia, sister of the German Emperor, Wilhelm II.  They have one daughter, Princess Feodora.

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