Thursday, January 5, 2023

A QVD engagement: Prince Nicholas zu Leiningen and Stephanie Paukner


all photos courtesy of Nicholas Leiningen

The romance began at Source, a Fairfield, Connecticut coffee shop, where HSH Prince Nicholas zu Leiningen and Stephanie Paukner were waiting for their lattes or a cappuccino and a flat white (the type of coffee does not matter).  They struck up a conversation -- and nearly two years later -- earlier this week -- at the Royal Isabela resort in Puerto Rico, Nick proposed.

Stephanie said yes.  

Nicholas Alexander Karel Friedrich Leiningen was born in Philadelphia on October 25, 1991, the only child of HSH Prince Karl Boris Frank Markwart of Leiningen (1960) and his first wife, Bulgarian-born Millena Manov (1962-2015).  Nicholas has two younger half-siblings, Karl and Juliana by his father's second wife, Cheryl Riegler.   He is an American citizen and does not use his title.

Stephanie Catherine Paukner is the daughter of Richard William Paukner and Catherine Anne Papillo.  She was born in Norwalk, Connecticut on August 25, 1992.  

The couple plan to marry in the fall of 2024.   Several of Nicholas' friends, who will be members of the wedding party, play Major League Baseball (none play for the Washington Nationals) so the wedding will take place after the end of the baseball season.

Sacred Heart University

Nick has a degree in economics and marketing from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.  He also played baseball (a pitcher) for Sacred Heart Pioneers.  He was named Rookie of the Year in 2011.

He also played varsity baseball at Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York.

For five months in 2020, Nick returned to Sacred Heart where he was hired as an assistant baseball coach.

He is now the Logistics Manager for Interluxe Group, where he organizes events for luxury automotive clients which include Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Maserati.

Stephanie is a trauma nurse. In 2016, she earned an Associate of Science degree in nursing from St. Vincent College.  She continued her nursing education at Western Governors University, an online university, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and qualified as a registered nurse.   Her father is a CPA and her mother is a food stylist and home economist.

The couple and their dog Chef are living in North Carolina, where Stephanie is currently working in a hospital.


Nicholas is a descendant of Queen Victoria through his paternal grandfather, Prince Karl of Leiningen, who married Princess Marie Louise of Bulgaria, the daughter of the late King Boris III and Queen Giovanna, third daughter of King Vittorio Emanuele III and Princess Elena of Montenegro.

Victoria - Alfred - Victoria Melita - Marie - Karl - Boris - Nichola

He also has another Coburg line of descent through Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1785-1851), who was the second son of Franz, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and his second wife, Countess Auguste Reuss zu Ebersdorf. 

Prince Ferdinand's older brother, Ernst I, was the father of Prince Albert, who married Queen Victoria.  One of his younger sisters was Victoria, who married twice, first to Emich Carl, 2nd Prince of Leiningen, and several years after his death, she married Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III.    The Duke of Kent was the father of Queen Victoria.

In 1815, Prince Ferdinand married the Catholic heiress Princess Maria Antonia Koháry de Csábrág et Szitnya, thus establishing the Catholic branch of the Coburg dynasty.  Their second son, Prince August (1818-1881) married Princess Clementine of Orléans.   They were the parents of five children, the youngest of whom was Prince Ferdinand (1861-1948), who was elected Prince of Bulgaria in 1887.   In October 1908, Ferdinand declared Bulgaria a kingdom and chose to be styled as Tsar.   He abdicated in 1918 in favor of his eldest son, Boris III (1894-1943).

Ferdinand - August - Ferdinand - Boris - Marie Louise - Boris - Nicholas

Tsar Ferdinand married Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma (1870-1899).  This was a marriage of convenience to secure the Bulgarian succession.  Marie Louise, the daughter of Roberto I, Duke of Parma, died in childbirth.   Her granddaughter, Princess Marie Louise of Bulgaria was named in her honor.

Nicholas is also a descendant of the Duchess of Kent's two children from her first marriage: Carl, 3rd Prince of Leiningen, and Feodora, who married Ernst I, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg

Victoria - Carl, 3rd Prince of Leiningen - Ernst - Emich - Karl - Karl - Boris - Nicholas

Victoria - Feodora - Hermann, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg - Feodora - Karl -Karl - Boris - Nicholas

Stephanie and Chef


cacly said...

Lovely story about their happy news.

David said...

This is so cool! An American woman marrying a prince!

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Nicholas is American. The title is by courtesy, not in law as titles were abolished in Germany in 1919 with the establishment of the Weimar Republic. In Germany, he would have the surname Prinz zu Leiningen. IN the US, his last name is Leiningen.