Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Prince of Hohenzollern turns 70


@Schloss Sigmaringen

HH Karl Friedrich  Prince of Hohenzollern celebrates his 70th birthday with family and friends.   

"There will be a reception for the company, business partners, and the city. In the evening, we will have dinner with family and close friends.  The time is not right for a big party,", the prince said in a recent interview with  Schwaebische Zeitung.

Karl Friedrich Emich Meinrad Benedikt Fidelis Maria Michael Gerold Prince of Hohenzollern was born in Sigmaringen on April 20, 1952, the eldest of three sons of HH Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince of Hohenzollern (1924-2010) and HSH Princess Margarita zu Leiningen (1932-1996).  He has two younger brothers,  Prince Albrecht (1954) and Prince Ferdinand (1960).

The prince has been married twice.  His first marriage to Countess Alexandra Schenk von Stauffenberg took place at Beuron on June 15, 1985.  They had four children:  Hereditary Prince Alexander (1987), Princess Philippa (1988), Princess Flaminia (1991), and Princess Antonia (1995).

The Prince and Princess of Hohenzollern were divorced on February 21, 2010.  Five months later, on July 17,  Karl Friedrich married Katharina de Zomer. 

He is also a noted jazz musician, the leader of the band,  Royal Groovin, where he sings and plays the saxophone.

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The interview which was conducted by Michael Heschler and Marieke Keiper focused on Prince Karl Friedrich's life and the future of the family businesses.  The Prince of Hohenzollern is one of the largest employers in Sigmaringen.  His two most important companies are Zollern, a metal company, and the Hohenzollern forestry company.   The Hohenzollern forest with an area of 15,000 hectares, is the "largest part of the princely family assets."

The forestry business is the fourth largest in Germany, after the Prince of Thurn un Taxis, the Prince of Fürstenberg, and Graf Hatzfeld.

"Size is not important to us at all," Prince Karl Friedrich told the reporter, stating that he is more interested in "profitability and sustainability.

Tourism is also important to Prince Karl Friedrich.  Burg Hohenzollern in Hechingen is owned jointly by the Prince and Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia.

Prince Karl Friedrich understands the importance of tourism.  He has a 50/50 share in the new Karls Hotel in Sigmargingen, which was built on property provided by the prince.   

The family brewery and a museum will soon move into the former royal stables on Karlsplatz in Sigmaringen.   Schloss Sigmaringen, the Josefskapelle, the Hedingen church (where members of the Hohenzollern and Saxony royal families are interred) and the stables are all considered historical properties.

The prince is also a shareholder in several companies including Cosi, which makes X-rays.

He was asked what Sigmaringen means to him.

The prince responded:  "It's my hometown and I think it is worth living here.  At my age, I'm always somewhere else.  We live at Schloss Umkirch near Freiburg from time to time, " adding "I want and need to take care of our property and our businesses.  I can only do that when I'm here."

Prince Karl Friedrich was also asked about being the Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and what this title means to him.

"This is my heritage and mission.  As the eldest descendant of our family, the title is traditionally a part of the name.  I can't imagine it would be any different.  There are many princes, but only one Prince."

Karl Friedrich spent 25 years as the Hereditary Prince, until he succeeded his father, Friedrich Wilhelm, following his death in 2010     he spoke about his relationship with his father, noting that they worked together at times, "sometimes less intensively."  He did acknowledge that he made "many decisions independently."  

His relationship with his father was not "always an easy time."

The late Prince made most of his decision alone without consulting others.  Karl Friedrich sees this differently.  "Today a boss talks to his employees about many things, today communication is more pronounced."

But  Prince Friedrich Wilhelm preferred to "think things through" before making a decision.  The young Karl Friedrich  found his father's decision-making process "difficult for me to subordinate myself."

"My father did not like arguments.  There were arguments but they were always brief.  My father never held grudges, things were done for him and never discussed again.  That was a great strength."

The prince attended the University of Fribourg in Switzerland where he studied business administration.

Karl Friedrich began to take over more responsibility soon after his father's 70th birthday.  "An eye disease made it difficult for him to read, and he had to give up his pilot's license and driver's license.  I discussed things with him, but as dementia set in, I took on more and more responsibility.  This went on for several years so that I didn't go unprepared overnight  from authorized representative to owner."

The prince also talked about his businesses and future plans for Schloss Sigmaringen and other properties before the reporters ask him about his only son Hereditary Prince Alexander.  He was asked if he planned to involve his son in the family business or if he is already working for the firm.

Karl Friedrich answered: "At the moment this is open.  He must first decide what he wants to do in the future." 

The New York City-born Hereditary Prince Alexander celebrated his 35th birthday on March 16.  He has a BS in International Business from Schiller International University (the Global American University) and a Master's degree in International Business from Hult International Business School, which is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  

There are rumors that Prince Alexander has married his longtime girlfriend, American-born Michelle Vincentia Keith.  She recently changed her name on her social media accounts, including Facebook and Instagram.

If Alexander decides he does not want to succeed or renounces his right of succession, Prince Karl Friedrich said that another option would be to establish a foundation, with the assumption that the Prince's nephew, HSH Prince Aloys of Hohenzollern, 23, the eldest of three children of Prince Ferdinand, an architect, and his wife, Countess Ilona Kálnoky de Köröspatak, would eventually succeed as Prince of Hohenzollern.

At this time, however,  neither Prince Alexander nor his father has made a decision about the future of the succession.

HH The Prince of Hohenzollern is a descendant of Queen Victoria.

Victoria - Alfred - Victoria Melita - Maria - Margarita - Karl Friedrich

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