Thursday, May 30, 2019

On This Day In History: The Death of Prince Ludwig, The Last of the Hesse and by Rhine

Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duchess Eleonore, and Hereditary Grand Duke Georg Donatus and Prince Ludwig

The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine with their two sons

Eleonore with Georg Donatus and Ludwig

Prince Ludwig Hermann Alexander Chlodwig of Hesse and by Rhine was born on 20 November 1908 as the second son of Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine (25 November 1868–9 October 1937) and his second wife Grand Duchess Eleonore (17 September 1871–16 November 1937; née Solms-Hohensolms-Lich). Ludwig joined an older brother, Hereditary Grand Duke Georg Donatus (8 November 1906–16 November 1937). From his father's first marriage to Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1876-1936), Ludwig had one half sister, Princess Elisabeth (1895-1903), who he never met as a result of her untimely death.

Prince Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine

Together with his brother Georg Donatus, who was two years older, Prince Ludwig grew up alternately at Schloß Wolfsgarten and the Neuen Palais in Darmstadt. At the time of the First World War, he began to be privately tutored. Ludwig, in the family circle called "Lu," was like his brother almost entirely educated at home. Ludwig finished his primary studies in 1926. Then Ludwig went on to study archeology and art history with a specialisation in ornamentation at the Universities of Darmstadt, Lausanne and Munich.


Announcement of the Hesse/Geddes engagement on 17 July 1937

Prince Ludwig and his fiancée the Hon. Margaret Geddes
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Report on the death of Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine on 10 October 1937

After graduating, the trained art historian served as an attaché at the German Embassy in London. In Upper Bavaria, Ludwig met Margaret Campbell Geddes (18 March 1913-26 January 1997), the daughter of British diplomat and professor Sir Auckland Campbell Geddes (1879-1954) and American Isabella Gamble Ross (1881-1962). After having met in 1936, Ludwig and Margaret announced their engagement on 16 July 1937. The wedding was postponed after Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig died on 9 October 1937. At this point, it was decided that Ludwig and Margaret should marry on 20 November 1937, the groom's twenty-ninth birthday.


However, further tragedy was to intervene. On 16 November, Eleonore, along with her son Georg Donatus, his pregnant wife Cecilie and his two sons, went to London by plane in order to attend Ludwig's wedding. The plane crashed near Oostende in Belgium and all the passengers were killed. The only one of Georg Donatus and Cecilie's children not aboard the flight was their daughter Johanna.

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In London, it was decided that Prince Ludwig and Margaret Geddes should marry without delay in the face of this loss. The couple were married on 17 October 1937, a day after the plane crash, in quiet wedding ceremony at St Peter's Church, Eaton Square. Ludwig's best man was Lord Louis Mountbatten. The wedding was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Kent, Princess Olga of Yugoslavia (née Greece), Countess Elisabeth of Törring-Jettenbach (née Greece), the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, Lady Louis Mountbatten, and Mr and Mrs von Ribbentrop. After the marriage, Ludwig and Margaret traveled to Ostend to see the remains of the groom's family. Ludwig never completely recovered from the death of his family; it was later remarked that "a disciplined sadness marked him."

Princess Johanna of Hesse and by Rhine
Prince Ludwig and Princess Margaret with their niece/adopted daughter Princess Johanna

After the accident, Prince Ludwig and Princess Margaret adopted Johanna, their orphaned niece, and planned to raise her as their own daughter. Sadly, Johanna developed meningitis and died twenty months later at the age of two and a half on 14 June 1939. The little girl's maternal grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece (née Battenberg), said later that the unconscious Johanna so closely resembled her mother at the same age that it felt like losing her daughter Cecilie all over again. Following Johanna's death, she was buried with her parents and brothers at the Rosenhöhe.

Peter Pears, Prince Louis of Hesse and by Rhine, Princess Margaret of Hesse and by Rhine, and Benjamin Britten
Lu and Peg of Hesse

Prince Ludwig and Princess Margaret "Peg" were never able to have children of their own. After the end of World War II, the couple engaged in the reconstruction of Darmstadt, supporting such institutions as Alice Hospital, the Eleonorenheim and the Red Cross. As a lover of classical music, the prince promoted the Ansbach Festival and the Aldeburgh Festival. As a friend of the British musician Benjamin Britten, Ludwig translated his lyrics and invited the English composer come to Wolfsgarten, where parts of Britten's opera Death in Venice were created.

Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine in later life
Lu and Peg of Hesse with The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh 

In 1964, Ludwig became of the godfathers of Prince Edward, youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Ludwig died in 1968 at the age of 59 years. The funeral service took place on 6 June 1968 at Darmstadt in the presence of the European royals and aristocrats. Ludwig is buried together with his wife Margaret (1913-1997) in a simple grave at the Rosenhöhe, in the immediate vicinity of his parents and his brother's family.

The late Landgraf Moritz of Hesse as a young man

In 1960, Prince Ludwig adopted Prince/Landgraf Moritz of Hesse-Kassel (1926-2013), in whose person the two separate lines of the House of Hesse were reunited from the first time since 1567 after Prince Ludwig's death in 1968.


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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Memories of the Past Decade: Radu Duda Announces Candidacy for the Romanian Presidency

Radu Duda of Romania: When an Actor turned Prince runs for President


Ten years ago, Prince Radu of Romania (né Duda) announced his candidacy for the Romanian Presidency in a press conference at Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest on 9 April 2009. Radu was accompanied by his wife Princess Margarita. The couple had married in 1996.


On 23 April 2009, King Michael of Romania gave a speech in support of his son-in-law's political aspirations. Some suspected that the king did so reluctantly as he had always sought to remain above the political fray. The king delivered his address from Elisabeta Palace. In full, the speech read as follows:

I spent half a century in exile together with my family and another ten years in government imposed restrictions in our own country. For us these were the most terrible years and perhaps for the country were even worse. Our whole life was dedicated to serving the country as we always wished to see her powerful, prosperous and proud within Europe. During these more than six decades all good hopes of the Romanian people were shattered, one by one. […] The right deed comes at the right time for the country. I believe that this moment has arrived.

My Family through its presence in the democratic elections for the institution of the Chief of State strives to unite and restore to a state of health contemporary Romania. We want to prove how the people should be properly served. I am fully confident that Prince Radu has the capacity to bear forward this important responsibility and high ideal. 
Romania faces difficult times. I appeal to you all in supporting this important step forward for Romania. In these moments the country needs you united and generous, cohesive and responsible. 
Let us together give Romania hope in this difficult year! 
So help us God! 
Mihai R.

Radu Duda announces his bid for the Romanian Presidency in April 2009

In September 2009, Radu quit the presidential race. He attributed this decision to a lack of broad support from the political establishment, other groups and the business community in Romania. The Royal Forums elaborated:

The Prince said he was very sad to make the decision but had ‘hopes for the future’. He maintained that the election campaign was not a fair race but merely a fight between different political clans: “Most Romanian politicians act as though the state and public institutions are personal goods. The current president began the process of privatization of the Romanian state. The next president will continue it.” 
Radu Duda announced his intention to fun for Presidency in April and registered as an independent candidate, without links to or support of any political party. At the time, Prince Radu declared that should he be successful, he would not seek to restore the Monarchy. 
Former King Michael of Romania supported both his son-in-law’s campaign and his decision to end it.

Source: Prince Radu Duda drops bid for Presidency


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On This Day In History: The Marriage of Queen Victoria's Parents

The Duke of Kent and Strathearn

The Duchess of Kent and Strathearn (née Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld)

On 29 May 1818 at Amorbach, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, and Princess Viktoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld were wed. This was the first marriage for Prince Edward (2 November 1767-23 January 1820), who was the fourth son and fifth child of King George III of the United Kingdom (1738-1820) and Queen Charlotte (1744-1818; née Mecklenburg-Strelitz). It was the second marriage for Princess Viktoria (17 August 1786-16 March 1861): she married her first husband, Emich Carl, Prince of Leiningen, on 21 December 1803 at Coburg. Viktoria was widowed when Emich Carl died in 1814, leaving behind Viktoria and their two children, Carl (1804-1856) and Feodora (1807-1872). Princess Viktoria was the fourth daughter and seventh child of Duke Franz Frederick Anton of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (1750-1806) and his second wife Countess Augusta of Reuß-Ebersdorf (1757-1831).

The Dowager Duchess of Kent with her daughter Princess Victoria

Report on the christening of Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent
Article (c) The Times of London (25 June 1819)

Princess Victoria of Kent, aged four
The couple's only child was born almost a year to the day after their marriage. On 24 May 1819, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent entered the world at Kensington Palace. The princess was christened privately by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners-Sutton, on 24 June 1819 in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace. She was baptised Alexandrina after one of her godparents, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and Victoria, after her mother. For the rest of her life, she would be known by her second name, Victoria. 

The Duke of Kent

Aged fifty-two, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, died of pneumonia on 23 January 1820 at Woolbrook Cottage, Sidmouth. He was buried at St George's Cathedral, Windsor. Edward died six days before his father King George, who passed away on 29 January 1820.


The Dowager Duchess of Kent with her grandchildren Prince Alfred and Princess Alice

The Dowager Duchess of Kent in 1860, one year before her death

Princess Viktoria, the Dowager Duchess of Kent, survived her husband by over forty years. At the age of seventy-four, the duchess drew her last breath on 16 March 1861 at Frogmore House, Windsor. The Dowager Duchess of Kent is buried at the Duchess of Kent's Mausoleum at Frogmore, Windsor.


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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Prince of Venice Announces Cancer Diagnosis

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Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, Prince of Venice, has made it public knowledge that he is suffering from cancer: the exact kind is not specified. The forty-six year-old prince stated that he was originally diagnosed in 2011. However, he has had a recurrence of the disease and decided to share this development with others.

Photo from the Instagram of Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia


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Monday, May 27, 2019

All In The Family: The Princely Pleß Stepmother Who Married Her Stepson

doña Clothilde de Silva y González de Cándamo

Announcement of the marriage between Prince Hans Heinrich XV of Pleß and Clotilde de Silva y González
Article (c) Chicago Tribune (24 January 1925)

Hans Heinrich and Clotilde of Pleß are married at London
Article (c) The Philadelphia Inquirer (25 January 1925)

On 25 January 1925 at London, Prince Hans Heinrich XV of Pleß (1861-1938) took as his second wife doña Clothilde de Silva y González de Cándamo (1898-1978), the daughter of José de Silva y Borchgrave d'Altena (1866-1938), Marques de Arcicollar, and Clotilde González de Cándamo y Asencios (1870-?). Clotilde was thirty-seven years younger than her husband Hans Heinrich.

Prince Hans Henrich XV and Princess Daisy of Pleß

Sketch of Princess Daisy of Pleß by John Singer Sargent

Hans Henrich, Daisy, and their three sons

Hans Heinrich XV had formerly been married to Mary-Theresa "Daisy" Cornwallis-West (1873-1943), the noted diarist. The couple had wed in 1891 and divorced in 1922. Hans Heinrich and Daisy had three sons: Hans Heinrich XVII (1900-1984; married twice with no issue), Alexander "Lexel" (1905-1984; once engaged to Princess Ileana of Romania), and Bolko (1900-1936). Princess Daisy of Pleß was a confidante of both King Edward VII of the United Kingdom and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.

Prince Hans Heinrich and Princess Clotilde of Pleß
Hans Heinrich, Clotilde, and their dogs

During the union of Hans Heinrich XV and Clotilde, two children arrived: Beatrix (b.1929) and Konrad (1930-1934). The marital bond between Prince Hans Heinrich and Princess Clotilde of Pleß gradually deteriorated: their marriage was annulled in 1934 in Germany, and the divorce of the couple was recognised in March 1936 by Poland, where the Pleß family had immense holdings. Reportedly, it was Clotilde who filed for divorce from Hans Heinrich.

Count Bolko of Hochberg
The funeral of Bolko on 6 July 1936
Pictured: Hans Heinrich XV of Pleß in a wheelchair being followed by his ex-wife/daughter-in-law Clotilde and his son Lexel at the funeral of his youngest son Bolko

Shortly after her divorce from Hans Heinrich, Clotilde married her stepson Count Bolko of Hochberg. The couple were wed on 5 July 1934 at Mittenwald. They had two children in swift succession: Gioia (b.11 October 1934) and Bolko (b.3 April 1936). Sadly, Bolko left behind his wife and surviving children when he died at the age of twenty-five on 22 June 1936 at Pleß. Bolko had been detained by the Gestapo on unspecific charges in March 1936.

Prince Hans Heinrich XVII of Pleß
Prince Alexander of Pleß

Bolko's father Prince Hans Heinrich XV of Pleß died on 31 January 1938 at Paris at the age of seventy-six. His mother Princess Daisy died on 29 June 1943 at Waldenburg, aged seventy. Bolko's widow (and former stepmother) Clotilde passed away at Munich on 12 December 1978 at the age of eighty. Hans Heinrich XV was succeeded as Prince of Pleß by his two eldest sons, Hans Heinrich XVII (2 February 1900-26 January 1984) and Lexel (1 Feb 1905-22 February 1984).

The children of Bolko and Clotilde (l to r): Bolko Jr., Beatrix, and Gioia.
Prince Bolko and Princess Elisabeth of Pleß
Countess Felicitas of Hochberg

Upon the death of Lexel in February 1984, Count Bolko of Hochberg (b.1936), only son of Count Bolko of Hochberg and doña Clotilde de Silva y González, inherited the title Prince of Pleß. Prince Bolko has one daughter, Countess Felicitas of Hochberg (b.1965) from his first marriage to Ruth Marie Therese Reuther (18 May 1940-13 November 2013). Prince Bolko wed again in 2013 to Elisabeth Malisse. The heir to the princely Pleß title is Count Peter of Hochberg (b.1956)

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia Remarries


Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia (b.1943) has married for a second time. The prince recently wed his long-time partner Nadia Nour. The information was made public on the Instagram account of Franz Wilhelm's son, Grand Duke George of Russia.



Franz Wilhelm is the eldest son of the late Prince Karl Franz Josef of Prussia (1916-1975) and Princess Henriette of Schönaich-Carolath (1918-1972). Franz Wilhelm was married from 1976-1985 to Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia (b.1953), with whom he has one son, Grand Duke George (b.1981).



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A post shared by Dr. Karim Gaafar Talkhan (@otros_tiempos) on


The prince and princess form a discreet couple, who royal watchers will have seen attending Gotha events several times in recent years. Prince Franz Wilhelm and Princess Nadia were present for the wedding of Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia and Princess Sophie (née Isenburg) in 2011. They also attended the wedding of Hereditary Prince Ferdinand of Leiningen and Hereditary Princess Viktoria Luise (née Prussia) in 2017. At both events, Franz Wilhelm's ex-wife Grand Duchess Maria of Russia and their son Grand Duke George were present: it seems that all parties get along very well.

We wish Prince Franz Wilhelm and Princess Nadia of Prussia much happiness!

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

On This Day In History: The Death of Grand Duchess Leonida of Russia


On 23 May 2010, Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna died at La Paz Hospital in Madrid. The grand duchess was ninety-five years-old. She was the last surviving member of the Imperial House of Romanov to have been born in the Russian Empire before its fall in 1917.

The website of the Russian Imperial House offered a detailed account of the last few days in the extraordinary life of Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna:

On 21 May 2010, the grand duchess’s health began to deteriorate sharply. Doctors were summoned and were able to stop the heart attack; and on the following day, Her Imperial Highness was feeling somewhat better. But by evening, the pain and labored breathing had returned. 
On 10/23 May, on the Feast Day of the Holy Trinity, Grand Duchess Maria Wladimirovna informed Fr. Andrei Kordochkin, the rector of the Church of the Nativity of Christ, a parish of the Moscow Patriarchate, of her most august mother’s illness. Fr. Andrei immediately arrived at the Imperial Family’s apartment and gave the grand duchess the Most Holy Mysteries of Christ, and read the Canon for the Departure of the Soul. In the evening, Her Imperial Highness was taken to “La Paz” hospital. At her side the entire time was Grand Duchess Maria Wladimirovna. At 11:55pm local time, the Dowager Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna departed this life in the Lord. 
News of the death of the senior member of the Russian Imperial House brought sorrow and expressions of sympathy from people all over the world. The first condolences received were from His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia: 
"TELEGRAM TO HER IMPERIAL HIGHNESS, GRAND DUCHESS MARIA WLADIMIROVNA

YOUR IMPERIAL HIGHNESS!

It was with enormous sorrow that I learned of the death in the Lord of Her Imperial Highness, Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna. She lived a full, long, and complex life. She confronted suffering in her life many times, and time has taken its toll, but through it all, she maintained a passionate love for Russia and for the traditions of Holy Orthodoxy.
We are grateful for her involvement in the life of the Church, both at home and abroad, and for her significant contributions to the reestablishment of the unity in the Church. Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna maintained an active interest in affairs in Russia, and sincerely empathized with our sorrows and rejoiced in our successes.

I will always remember the times I met her, especially the first meeting, which took place in 1992 during the historic visit of the grand-ducal couple to St. Petersburg. I well remember also my last meeting with her, in Smolensk. Please accept my heartfelt condolences on this loss that has befallen you and your family.

May the Lord grant rest to his servant in the abodes of the righteous, and grant us all His all-mighty help in the service of the fatherland and its people. With respect,

+KIRILL, PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA" 
In the days after the death of the dowager grand duchess, condolences were received also from the Chair of the Office of External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk; the First Hierarch of the Russia Orthodox Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York; Metropolitan Kornilii of Talliinn and All Estonia; Archbishop Vikentii of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturia; Archbishop Aleksei of Kostroma and Galitsa, Archbishop Kirill of San Francisco and Western America; Archbishop Ionafan of Tulchyn and Bratslav; Archbishop Innokentii of Korsun; Metropolitan Polikarp of Spain and Portugal and Exarch of the Mediterranean; from King Juan-Carlos I of Spain and Queen Sofia; Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and North Ireland; King Albert II of the Belgians and Queen Paola; King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden and Queen Silvia; Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands; Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria and Tsaritsa Margarita; King Constantine II of Greece and Queen Anna-Maria; King Leka of Albania; the Head of the Yugoslavian Royal House Crown Prince Alexander Karageorgievich and Princess Catherine; the Head of the Austrian Imperial House, Archduke Otto; the Head of the German Imperial and Prussian Royal House, Prince Georg-Freidrich; the Head of the Bavarian Royal House, Duke Franz; the Head of the Portuguese Royal House, Dom Duarte, Duke of Braganza; the Head of the Georgian Royal House, Tsarevich David Georgievich; the Head of the Italian Royal House, Prince Victor-Emmanuel of Savoy; from the vice-chair of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, L. K. Sliska; the Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, V. D. Zor’kin; the Chair of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, V. M Lebedev; the Chairman of the Central Elections Commission, V. E. Churov; the governor of Tula District, V. D. Dudkin; the governor of Kemerovo District, A. I. Tuleev; the general director of the judicial department of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, A. V. Gusev; the vice-chair of the State Duma Committee for Transport, S. A. Gavrilov; from the President of the Transdnistria Moldovan Republic, I. N. Smirnov; the Minister of Culture of France, F. Mitterrand; from the great-great-grandson of Emperor Alexander III, P. E. Kulikovskii and his wife; from government and civic figures; representatives of the clergy; academic and cultural groups; from members of the Russian and European nobility; and from many countrymen, who have expressed their sincere feelings of support for the Imperial family at this difficult time of sorrow and loss.
Princess Leonida Georgievna Bagration-Mukhransky

Princess Leonida Georgievna Bagration-Mukhransky was born on 6 October 1914 at Tbilisi, Georgia. She descended from the oldest Christian royal family in the world: the Bagrationi of Georgia. Leonida's parents were Prince George Alexandrovich (1884-1957) and Princess Elena Sigismundovna (1886–1979; née Złotnicka-Nowina).

Sumner Moore Kirby

After the Russian Revolution, the family eventually made its way to France. It was there that Leonida met her first husband, American Woolsworth heir Sumner Moore Kirby (1895–1945). The couple were married at Nice on 6 November 1934. Leonida and Sumner had one daughter, Hélène Louise Kirby (b.Geneva 26 January 1935); the pair's union ended in divorce on 18 November 1937.

Grand Duke Vladimir and Grand Duchess Leonida of Russia

During World War II, Leonida met Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia in France at a café. The couple would not see each other again for a few years: their next meeting would take place in Spain during the late 1940s. The relationship between the two parties blossomed into love. On 13 August 1948, Grand Duke Vladimir and Princess Leonida were married at Lausanne. By virtue of her marriage, the bride was henceforth titled as Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna of Russia. 

Grand Duke Vladimir, Grand Duchess Leonida, and their daughter Grand Duchess Maria

After several years of marriage, the grand duke and grand duchess welcomed the arrival of their only child. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia was born at Madrid on 23 December 1953. Her godparents were Queen Mother Giovanna of Bulgaria (née Savoy) and her granduncle Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich of Russia. 









For the rest of her long life, Grand Duchess Leonida dedicated herself wholeheartedly to her roles as a wife, mother, and grandmother. An iron fist in a velvet glove, the grand duchess did everything in her power to support her husband, Grand Duke Vladimir (1917-1992), her daughter and current Head of the Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna (b.1953), and her only grandchild, Grand Duke George Mikhailovich (b.1981). Her passing was immensely mourned by her family and by all supporters of the Imperial House of Romanov who understood the pivotal part that Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna had played in securing the dynasty's future.