Thursday, August 25, 2011

Controversy mars upcoming royal wedding

The German newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel,  reports today on the controversy within Georg Friedrich's family.

The marriage between Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia and his childhood sweetheart, Princess Sophie von Isenburg, is meant to be "a very private affair," in spite of the fact that the Prince is the great-great-grandson of Germany's last emperor, Wilhelm II.

Well, not so private, actually.   The German broadcaster, RBB, will provide three hours of coverage of the wedding ceremony and carriage ride on Saturday, treating the event as a royal wedding in a reigning dynasty.

News agencies, including Reuters and AFP, are "falling over themselves" in "homage reports."  The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday (FAS) describes the wedding as the social event of the year in Germany.

This might please the groom whose website "proudly notes" that the marriage of his parents, Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussian and Countess Donata zu Castell-Rüdenhausen was the "media event of the year" in 1975.

The FAS profile describes Georg Friedrich as "polite, reserved, sometimes a bit shy," but there are people who know him "describe him as otherwise."   Critical reports in newspapers have been met with legal action.   Der Taggespiegel's written request for information about the wedding was denied.  Interview requests with the young couple have also been denied due to a risk of being asked critical questions.

Many of these concerns fall back to the family quarrels regarding the inheritance.  Prince Louis Ferdinand's two eldest sons, Princes Friedrich Wilhelm and Michael, married commoners in the mid-1960s.  They ceased to be dynasts.   The third son, Prince Louis Ferdinand, made an equal match, when he married Countess Donata zu Castell-Rüdenhausen in 1975.   Georg Friedrich was born a year later.

Following the young Prince Louis Ferdiand's death in 1977,  the young Georg Friedrich became the heir to his grandfather, and he succeeded as head of the house in 1994.

But trouble was brewing, as the two eldest uncles fought Georg Friedrich's inheritance, which was based on the late Kaiser Wilhelm II's will.    Wilhelm's will stipulated, among other things, that the heir and the next heir, were required to marry of equal rank.   In 1933,  Crown Prince Wilhelm's eldest son, Prince Wilhelm, married Dorothea von Salviati.  This marriage was morganatic.   Wilhelm, who was killed in the second world war in 1940, ceased to be an heir.  Five years later, his brother, Louis Ferdinand,  who became the heir, married Grand Duchess Kira of Russia, a truly grand and dynastic marriage.

Wilhelm II died in 1941.   Although his eldest son, Crown Prince Wilhelm, succeeded as head of the house,  the estate, largely for tax purposes, was inherited by Louis Ferdinand.    Unfortunately,  a major portion of the family's assets, located in what would become East Germany, were lost after 1945.

But Prince Louis Ferdinand was able to rebuild the family's finances.  All of his children received allowances and homes, but the allowances largely came to an end after his death.  All of his surviving children received a percentage of his estate, as required by German law, but the bulk of the fortune was inherited by Prince Georg Friedrich.

The lawsuits soon followed.  Friedrich Wilhelm tried to claim that his second marriage to Ehrengard von Reden was of equal rank.  It was not, and it didn't matter,  Friedrich Wilhelm lost his right to succeed at the time of his first marriage.   There were various twists and turns to the case, but eventually, the high courts ruled in Georg Friedrich's favor. 

But the damage was done.   Lots of money went to legal fees, and Prince Georg Friedrich began selling the homes that his uncles had lived in for many years -- for which they lived largely rent free. 

Der Taggespiegel reports that Georg Friedrich's three uncles, Princes Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince Michael and Prince Christian-Sigismund have not been invited to the wedding.   [It should be noted that Prince Christian Sigismund's marriage was approved by Prince Louis Ferdinand.]

 Read more about Prince Louis Ferdinand in his memoirs, The Rebel Prince.

No comments: