Wednesday, August 31, 2022

A Spectacular Spanish Saga: The Life of Doña María Luisa de Borbón, 3rd Duchess of Seville

Maria Luisa, Duquesa de Sevilla, in 1920.
Photo (c) National Portrait Gallery.

Born at 1pm on 4 April 1868 at Madrid, María Luisa Enriqueta Josefina de Borbón y Parade was the first of three daughters of Enrique Pío de Borbón y Castellví, 2nd Duke of Seville (1848-1894) and Josefina Parade y Sibié (1840-1939). María Luisa's parents wed two years after her birth on 5 November 1870 at Madrid; the marriage of her father and mother legitimised María Luisa. According to the text of a later lawsuit, it was posited that Enrique and Josefina waited to marry and disclose the existence of María Luisa, who had always lived with her parents, until after the death of María Luisa's paternal grandfather, Don Enrique María de Borbón, 1st Duke of Seville, in a duel with the Duke of Montpensier on 12 March 1870. 

María Luisa's grandfather Enrique with his four sons, the eldest being María Luisa's father.

The paternal grandparents of María Luisa were Enrique María de Borbón (Infante of Spain from 1823-1848 and then from 1855-1867), 1st Duke of Seville (1823-1870), and Elena de Castellvi y Shelly-Fernandez de Cordova (1821-1863). María Luisa's maternal grandparents were Jean Parade and Geneviève Sibié. María Luisa's paternal great-uncle was King Consort Francisco de Asis of Spain, the husband of Queen Isabel II of Spain, and putative father of King Alfonso XII of Spain. 

María Luisa's father: Enrique, 2nd Duque de Sevilla.

María Luisa was followed by two younger sisters: Marta de Borbón y Parade (1880-1928) and Enriqueta de Borbón y Parade (1888-1967; married her first cousin Francisco de Borbón). For unknown personal and warped reasons, Josefina held a great disdain for her eldest daughter, María Luisa, and showed a marked preference for her second daughter, Marta, the first of Josefina's children born after she married Enrique. On the other hand, Enrique reportedly loved all of his daughters the same and, understandably, believed that his eldest daughter María Luisa should succeed him to the Ducado de Sevilla, while Josefina showed preference their second daughter Marta. King Alfonso XII of Spain felt concerned enough about the treatment of María Luisa by her mother that he had his cousin enrolled at the Colegio Santa Isabel in Madrid. María Luisa had initially expressed a desire to enter religious orders, which met with approval from her mother Josefina, as such a move would guarantee that María Luisa would not succeed her father to the Duchy of Seville, and thus pave the way for Josefina's preferred daughter Marta to become the Duchess. When Enrique's last and youngest daughter, Enriqueta, was born on 28 June 1885, the Duke of Seville took his eldest daughter out of school and became to introduce her to society, as he was now certain that María Luisa would very likely follow him to the Seville title. Josefina's meanness towards her seventeen year-old daughter accelerated after María Luisa left Colegio Santa Isabel to such an extent that after the family had gone on a vacation together during the summer of 1885, that when María Luisa had returned to Madrid, then the young woman make the decision to try to join a religious order, so as to escape from her mother's cruelty. Under the protection of Queen Regent Maria Cristina and King Francisco de Asis, María Luisa then went to an establishment in Lourdes accompanied by a nun of the same order that ran the Colegio Santa Isabel. Maria Cristina and her father-in-law Francisco paid María Luisa's fees at the institution in Lourdes; María Luisa was eventually compelled leave her noviciate owing to illness. From there, she moved to London where she lived at a Convent of the Assumption in Kensington Square, where she resided until her eventual marriage. 

Enrique, 2nd Duke of Seville, died on 12 July 1894 while on a ship in the Red Sea. A few weeks after her father's death, María Luisa married Juan Lorenzo Francisco Monclús y Cabanellas (1862-1918) on 25 July 1894 in London. Juan was the son of Francisco Monclús and Dolores Cabanellas.

On 12 September 1894, Josefina, Dowager Duchess of Seville, filed a lawsuit contesting that (1) María Luisa should not be allowed to succeed her father as Duchess of Seville, (2) that María Luisa's sister Marta should succeed to the dukedom, (3) that María Luisa should not receive any part of her father's estate, and (4) that Marta and Enriqueta should be the sole heiresses of the late duke. On 15 December 1894, the court ruled that all three daughters of Enrique, Duke of Seville, were entitled to equal shares of his estate. On 15 July 1895, María Luisa was legally acknowledged as the 3rd Duchess of Seville by the Ministry of Justice and by royal decree. 

The persecution of the daughter by mother did not cease. In March 1896, the Dowager Duchess of Seville brought another lawsuit wherein Josefina sought to completely destroy María Luisa's position. In her suit, Josefina asked that the courts nullify the judgement of 15 December 1894 in addition to declaring void the baptismal certificate of María Luisa. The desire of Josefina was to have her eldest daughter declared to be not only illegitimate, but also to allege that her eldest daughter was not the daughter of her late husband Enrique. The ultimate aim of Josefina's actions were to guarantee that her second daughter Marta would become the Duchess of Seville. 

The claims of Josefina, Dowager Duchess of Seville, were sensational and extraordinary. Josefina denied that she had given birth to a daughter on 4 April 1868 (her eldest daughter's date of birth) in Madrid. She claimed that she was still living in France, her country of birth, at the time. Josefina claimed that María Luisa had been born on 4 April 1863 in Paris, and that Enrique could not have been her father, as he was only fourteen years-old at the time. Josefina asserted that she and Enrique, after their 1870 marriage, had allowed María Luisa to adopt the Borbón surname; however, Josefina stated that the couple had only done this being mindful of the supposedly sad circumstances of the young girl, who had no other family. Josefina introduced into evidence letters allegedly from her late husband, in which Enrique claimed to only have two legitimate daughters, Marta and Enriqueta, and letters allegedly from María Luisa in which her daughter wrote that she had no claim to the Dukedom of Seville or to the personal fortune of Enrique. One of the letters provided read as follows: "Being ignorant of the lot that Providence has in store for me, and as it may be possible that my days are numbered, in order to safeguard the interests and rights of my beloved and unfortunate daughters Marta de Borbón and Enriqueta de Borbón, who are my only daughters and are legitimate, I entrust this writing to my beloved wife, Josefina Paradé y Libié, Duchess of Sevilla, so that upon my death she may defend the rights of the two beings whom I love so much.-Having had no children during the first years of our marriage and believing that, considering the time elapsed, we would never enjoy that happiness, at the request of my wife I decided to bestow my name upon and to have considered as my daughter a girl whom my wife had sheltered, who stayed in Paris under the name of María Paradé at the Bohnier boarding school and under the name of María Sevilla at the boarding school of Madame Jourdani and under the latter name in another school of Angulema until the day when she first bore my name, being thereafter considered as our daughter. Providence having been so kind as to give me on May 5, 1880, my adored daughter Marta and on June 28, 1885, my other much beloved daughter Enriqueta, the situation of my legitimate daughters, my true and only daughters, was critical in the face of the claims of the girl to whom, out of pity, I had given my name and by which she is known in the Royal College of Santa Isabel (Madrid); and although in a moment of folly I acknowledged her, I can not ignore the duty of a loving father, the voice of blood and of conscience, or the right that my real daughters have, so that nobody may claim what is theirs and so that they may know the truth.” This letter of Enrique, Duke of Seville, was later used in a case that appeared before the Supreme Court in Puerto Rico in which a man sought the annulment of his acknowledgement of a natural child. 

Josefina's assertions were met with a declaration by the civil servant who authorised the baptism of her eldest daughter. The statement read: "In the city of Madrid, on 9 March 1878, I, Dr. Vicente de Manterola, Magistral Canon of the Holy Cathedral Church of Vitoria and Curate of that church of San Andrés in this said town, by virtue of authorisation granted by the Patriarch of the Indies, Military Vicar General and Senior Chaplain Priest of the Royal Palace, in a decree of 9 March, I solemnly administered the Holy Sacrament of Baptism to María Luisa Enriqueta Josefina, who was born in Madrid on April 4 of 1868, at one in the afternoon, and that the same day she was baptized by Dr. Gabriel de Usera y Alarcón, now deceased, as daughter of Don Enrique Pío María Francisco de Paula Luis Antonio de Borbón y de Castellví, Duke of Seville, and Doña Josefina Paradé y Libié; the first from Toulouse and the second from Argelés, both in the Kingdom of France; the paternal granddaughter of HRH Infante Enrique of Spain and Her Excellency Doña Elena de Castellví, Duchess of Seville; and on the maternal side, Messrs. D. Juan and Doña Genoveva; Her godfather was the Presbyter Pedro Lumbreras, Senior Lieutenant of the priest of this church, to whom I warned of the spiritual kinship and other obligations, and as witness was José Díaz y León; and I sign this, Vicente de Manterolas." María Luisa further countered her mother's allegations by submitting that she was indeed born in 1868 at Madrid, and not in 1863 at Paris. María Luisa noted her father's affection for her, and her mother's disdain for her after the birth of her sister Marta. María Luisa also submitted a letter from her father, which read: "My very dear daughter: Although in five days I will have the pleasure of hugging you, I want you to receive my thoughts tomorrow as proof of the true affection that I profess for you on the occasion of tomorrow, the 4th of April, being the anniversary of your birth. You are eleven years old, and I pray to God that for long and happy years I may receive your sweet caresses and tender hugs. I will write to you before I go to look for you, and I will finish today because of how busy I am. Receive a thousand hugs from your father, who always loves you the same. Enrique. Bordeaux 3 April 1879."

Josefina countered her eldest daughter's evidence by claiming that María Luisa had indeed been born on 4 April 1863 at Paris to Josefina, who had given her the name Maria Paulina. Josefina alleged that María Luisa had then been taken care of by an aunt of Josefina. Ultimately, the court ruled (1) that María Luisa was born in 1868 as the natural daughter of Enrique and Josefina, (2) that María Luisa had been subsequently legitimised by her parents' marriage in 1870, and (3) that María Luisa had the right to succeed to her father's title. 

In 1908, María Luisa and her husband Juan left their residence in Barcelona and took a house in London and a country house in Sussex. María Luisa was more commonly referred to as Marie Louise in the British press; she was also often accorded the style of Royal Highness and the title Princess of Bourbon - neither of which she legally possessed. The Duchess of Seville and her husband quickly joined and were accepted by British high society. In December 1911, the Duke Consort of Seville underwent a serious operation in London; Juan spent his recovery in a nursing home. In May 1914, several works of Pablo Antonio Béjar Novella, a painter for Spanish royals, were unveiled at Welbeck Gardens: the subjects of his brush were Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, the Ambassadress of Spain, and the Duchess of Seville. The exhibition was visited by King Manoel II of Portugal with his mother Queen Amélie as well as Princess Beatrice of Battenberg. Juan, Duke of Seville, joined the British war effort during World War I and served as a private in the Coldstream Guards. He was wounded in Rochdale, France, in December 1915. In April 1916, María Luisa met then-Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia (later King Alexander I of Yugoslavia) during a visit that Alexander made to London to increase awareness of the Serbian military efforts during the Great War. On 13 December 1918 in Shropshire, Juan Monclús y Cabanellas, Duke of Seville, died following an operation; he was fifty-six years-old. María Luisa was now a widow; she and Juan did not have children.

Enriqueta, Duchess of Seville.

On 2 July 1919, María Luisa ceded the Duchy of Seville to her youngest sister, Enriqueta. Their middle sister Marta waived her rights of succession. In 1907, Enriqueta had married her first cousin Francisco de Bórbon de la Torre (1882-1952); the couple had three children, thus securing the future of the Duchy of Seville. Enriqueta's grandson is the current Duke of Seville.

María Luisa's sister Marta died on 19 March 1928 in Madrid. Marta was forty-seven years-old. She had never married and left no children.

Maria Luisa, Duquesa de Sevilla, in 1920.
Photo (c) National Portrait Gallery.

In July 1929, Mr Frederick Dempster-Smith, a late resident of the Hotel Victoria in London and the Imperial Hotel in Bournemouth, left £5,000 (modern equivalent being £221,777) to María Luisa. Mr Dempster-Smith gave this bequest whilst "begging Her Royal Highness's gracious acceptance of such a sum as a slight token of gratitude for her unvarying kindness, consideration, and sympathy to me and my family for so many years." At some point, María Luisa moved back to Spain. In July 1934, María Luisa was a guest of Mrs Maurice Clayton in London; it was her first visit back to the British capital since the Spanish Revolution. At the end of her stay, María Luisa returned to Barcelona. 

The death notice of Doña Josefina, Duquesa Viuda de Sevilla.

On 20 October 1939, María Luisa's mother Josefina, Dowager Duchess of Seville, died in Madrid. Josefina was ninety-nine years-old. Despite the lengths at which the dowager duchess went to disinherit her eldest daughter, María Luisa was listed in Josefina's obituary as her daughter.

A copy of the portrait of Maria Luisa by Pablo Antonio Béjar Novella.

Doña María Luisa de Borbón y Parade, former Duchess of Seville, died on 10 June 1949 at Ciempozuelos, Spain. She was eighty-one years-old. María Luisa's death was not mentioned in the Spanish or British press, and for many decades the exact year and date of her passing were not known. Even her relatives, the descendants of her sister Enriqueta, were not certain of when the first Duchess of Seville in her own right had passed away. Royal researcher and author Netty Leistra, of NettyRoyal, found the particulars concerning the death of María Luisa in 2013. 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Upcoming Grand Ducal Marriage in September!

Hereditary Prince Alexander and Hereditary Princess Hande of Mecklenburg.
Photo (c) Grand Ducal House of Mecklenburg.

On 17 September 2022 at 11am, Hereditary Prince Alexander of Mecklenburg and Hereditary Princess Hande will religiously marry at the Stadtkirche in Neusterlitz.

The couple were civilly married on 17 June 2022 in the Great Hall in the Palace of Mirow. 

The hereditary prince and his fiancée at the Hermitage Amsterdam, August 2020.
Picture courtesy of the Grand Ducal House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Hereditary Prince Georg Alexander of Mecklenburg was born on 17 July 1991 to Duke Georg Borwin of Mecklenburg (b.1956) and Duchess Alice (b.1959; née Wagner). Alexander has two siblings: Duchess Olga (b.1988) and Duke Michael (b.1994). Hande Macit was born on 16 September 1992 to of Mr Suphi Macit and his wife Cemile (née Uçar). Hande has one brother: Kerem (b.1987). Alexander and Hande live in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Alexander and Hande announced their engagement in 2020.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Noble Titles Linked to Franco Regime To Be Abolished By Proposed Law


Around thirty aristocrats will have their titles abolished by the Spanish Cortes if and when it adopts the Democratic Memory Law (Ley de Memoria Democrática). The text of the law was published in September 2020. At the time, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo noted that the bill's sixty-six articles would honour the victims of the Franco dictatorship, while reaffirming the importance of democracy and ensuring reconciliation amongst Spaniards.

Here is the full text of the Ley de Memoria Democrática:ática.pdf

Article 42 of the proposed bill reads: 

"Artículo 42. Supresión de títulos nobiliarios.

1. La persona titular del ministerio competente en la gestión de los asuntos relativos a los títulos nobiliarios y grandezas de España elaborará un catálogo de títulos nobiliarios concedidos entre 1948 y 1978, que representen la exaltación de la Guerra y Dictadura, y se procederá a su supresión.

2. Queda suprimida la Orden Imperial del Yugo y las Flechas."

This clearly indicates that the only noble titles which will be affected by this bill are those given to close associates of the Franco dictatorship. As it turns out, there are only thirty-three titles which are actually likely to be abolished. The following list was compiled by El Debate:

1. Duque de Primo de Rivera, con Grandeza de España.

2. Duque de Calvo Sotelo, con Grandeza de España.

3. Duque de Mola, con Grandeza de España.

4. Conde del Alcázar de Toledo, con Grandeza de España.

5. Conde de Labajos.

6. Marqués de Dávila y la Grandeza de España que se le une.

7. Marqués de Saliquet.

8. Marqués de Queipo de Llano.

9. Marqués de Alborán.

10. Conde del Jarama.

11. Marqués de Varela de San Fernando.

12. Conde de Benjumea.

13. Marqués de Somosierra.

14. Grandeza de España otorgada al Conde de Rodezno.

15. Marqués de San Leonardo de Yagüe.

16. Conde de la Cierva.

17. Marqués de Vigón.

18. Conde de Fenosa.

19. Conde del Castillo de la Mota.

20. Marqués de Suanzes.

21. Marqués de Kindelán.

22. Conde de Pallasar.

23. Marqués de Casa Cervera.

24. Conde de Martín Moreno.

25. Marqués de Bilbao Eguía.

26. Grandeza de España a Don Fernando Suárez de Tangil y de Angulo.

27. Conde de Bau.

28. Duque de Carrero Blanco, con Grandeza de España.

29. Señorío de Meirás, con Grandeza España.

30. Duque de Franco, con Grandeza de España.

31. Marqués de Arias Navarro, con Grandeza de España.

32. Conde de Rodríguez de Valcárcel.

33. Conde de lturmendi.

Source: Ley de memoria democrática - Esta es la lista definitiva de los títulos nobiliarios y grandezas que Sánchez ha suprimido con su ley de Memoria

The most prominent title which is likely to cease to exist is the Duchy of Franco (with Grandee of Spain), which was granted to Doña María del Carmen Franco y Polo (1926-2017) by then Prince Juan Carlos of Spain on 26 November 1975, six days after the death of Carmen's father General Francisco Franco. 

See here for the official bulletin concerning the granting of the Ducado de Franco:

The current holder is Doña María del Carmen Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (b.1951), 2nd Duchess of Franco. Carmen's eldest child and only surviving son is Don Luis Alfonso de Borbón y Martínez-Bordiú (b.1974; a pretender to the French throne; uses the title Duke of Anjou in that vein). If and when the law passes, Carmen, who now lives quietly in Portugal, will cease to be the Duchess of Franco, and the title will cease to exist forever. This will likely be a disappointment for her son Luis Alfonso, who would have been his mother's heir to the duchy. 

The only other title linked to the Franco family itself that will be abolished is the Señorío de Meirás. This title is currently held by Carmen's brother Don Francisco "Francis" Franco y Martínez-Bordíu (b.1954). However, even if Francis is deprived of the lordship of Meirás, he will still retain the title of Marqués de Villaverde, which he inherited from his father, Don Cristóbal Martínez-Bordiú y Ortega.

For more on the Franco family's situation, there is this article: El ducado de Franco en entredicho: por qué Carmen Martínez-Bordiú no podrá hacer duquesa a su nieta, Eugenia de Borbón

When and if the above thirty-three noble titles are abolished, their former holders will only have recourse by going before the Tribunal Constitucional. This would be a rather difficult course of actions, as the former holders of the abolished titles will have to make the case as to why the original grantee was not associated with the Francoist regime. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

On This Day in 2007: The Death of Prince Theodore Romanoff


Fifteen years ago today, Prince Theodore Romanoff died on 25 August 2007 at Pompano Beach, Florida. The prince was thirty-two years-old.

The New York Daily News of 12 December 1974 announces the arrival of Prince Theodore, 
A young Prince Theodore.
Photo (c) Jacques Ferrand.

Born on 30 November 1974 at New York City, Prince Theodore Romanoff was the only child of Prince Nikita Romanoff (1923- 2007) and his wife Princess Anna Mikhailovna (1933-2017; née Janet Anne Schonwald), who wed in 1961. Theodore's paternal grandparents were Prince Nikita of Russia (1900-1974) and Countess Maria Vorontzova-Daschkova (1903-1997). His maternal grandparents were Emanuel Schonwald (1903-1976) and Ethel Diamond (1907-1995).

Prince Nikita and Princess Janet Romanov, 1986.

In February 1978, Prince Nikita and Princess Janet were with their son Theodore in Palm Beach. The Miami Herald recorded a little glimpse of this close family unit: "Vacationing Nikita Romanoff, of New York, said he thought the carnival was just fine for him and his three year-old son, Theodore. 'Ah, yes. It looks nice, all the colours, in front of the church,' Romanoff said, waiting for Theodore to finish a ride. 'This is his first carnival. We brought him here this morning then took him to lunch and brought him back this afternoon. Now he's going to take a nap.'

Prince Theodore and his paternal grandmother Princess Maria, 1994 in Cannes.
Photo (c) Jacques Ferrand.

Prince Theodore Romanoff studied Classics and Egyptian and ancient languages at Columbia University and at Brown University, where he earned a M.A. with honors. He faithfully took care of his father, Prince Nikita, who died on 3 May 2007, following Nikita suffering many complications from a stroke. 

May Theodore's memory always be a blessing.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

The 50th Birthday of Archduchess Eilika of Austria

Archduchess Eilika and Archduke Georg of Austria, 2016.
The couple are here attending the wedding in Tirana of Crown Prince Leka of Albania.
Photo (c) Seth B. Leonard.

Today, Archduchess Eilika of Austria celebrates her fiftieth birthday!

Johann and Ilka of Oldenburg with their daughter Eilika and her fiancé Georg of Austria in 1997.
Photograph (c) Seeger-Presse.

Born on 22 August 1972 at Bad Segeberg, Duchess Eilika Helene Jutta Clementine of Oldenburg was the eldest child of Duke Johann of Oldenburg (b.1940) and Duchess Ilka (b.1942; née Countess zu Ortenburg), who wed in 1971. Eilika was followed by a sister and a brother: Duchess Tatjana (b.1974; married Count Axel de Chavagnac) and Duke Konstantin (b.1975; married Esther Sáchez Calvo). From 1993-1994, Eilika of Oldenburg attended the Sorbonne in Paris. In the summer of 1994, the duchess studied the Spanish language in Madrid. Between 1996-1997, Eilika enrolled at the University of Lille where her focus was business management. 

Hereditary Grand Duke Nikolaus of Oldenburg and Hereditary Grand Duchess Helene (née Waldeck und Pyrmont)

Eilika's paternal grandparents were Hereditary Grand Duke Nikolaus of Oldenburg (1897-1970) and his first wife Hereditary Grand Duchess Helene (1899-1948; née Princess of Waldeck and Pyrmont). Her maternal grandparents were Count Alfred-Friedrich zu Ortenburg (1906-1973) and Jutta von Lücken (1906-1991).

Georg and Eilika on their wedding day, 1997.
Photo (c) Getty Images / Jean-Claude Deutsch.

On 18 October 1997 at Budapest, Duchess Eilika of Oldenburg married Archduke Georg of Austria (b.1964), the youngest child and second son of Archduke Otto of Austria and Archduchess Regina (née Princess of Saxe-Meiningen). In addition to the Habsburg and Oldenburg families, their wedding was attended by King Felipe VI of Spain (then Prince of Asturias) and Prince Albert II of Monaco (then Hereditary Prince of Monaco). Through their respective mothers, Duchess Eilika and Archduke Georg are fifth half cousins once removed; they are both descendants of Kurfürst Wilhelm II of Hessen (1777-1847), with Georg descending from Wilhelm and his first wife Princess Auguste of Prussia (1780-1841) and with Eilika descending from Wilhelm and his second wife Emilie Ortlöpp, Countess von Reichenbach und Lessonitz (1791-1843).

Archduke Georg and Archduchess Eilika with their parents and their three children, 2004.
Photo (c) Getty Images / Isza Ferenc.

Archduke Georg and Archduchess Eilika are the parents of three children: Archduchess Zsófia "Sophie" (b.2001), Archduchess Ildiko (b.2002), and Archduke Károly-Konstantin (b.2004). Georg and Eilika had made their home in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, which is where their three children were born.

In September 1998, Eilika founded the Eilika of Habsburg Foundation (HABSBURG EILIKA ALAPITVÁNY) in Hungary. The foundation has provided support to hospitals and social institutions in the country. At a certain point, the archduchess began to focus on encouraging adults and children to participate in equestrian sports by facilitating training and practice. Eilika recalled: "When I came to Hungary as a young bride, I didn't speak a word of Hungarian and didn't even understand the language. However, my language skills have now at least developed to such a level that, for example, I can comprehend the information that people tell me and pass it on. I've always been a curious person who likes to work, and if necessary I'll do hard physical work. I can say that my work is also my hobby, and my hobby is also my work...and I give many people the opportunity to enjoy this hobby with us...I have been riding since my early childhood and have passed this passion on to my children. Horse riding is not only a sport but also a way of life. It helps with body language, communication, clear and honest words and driving skills." Eilika's son Karoly is also becoming an accomplished horseman, following in the steps of his mother.

Our best wishes to the Archduchess on her birthday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Ratibor und Corvey: Unique Ancestor of the Duke of Ratibor und Corvey


[This post was written by Arturo E. Béeche and originally appeared on Eurohistory's former blog in 2013.]

I purchased this beautiful photo at an auction in Berlin two weeks ago. It was a hard fought battle, but luckily I succeeded and now this amazingly rare, signed photo is part of the Eurohistory Archive!

But who is the lady in question, my readers may wonder?

She is Princess Sophie von Metternich (1857-1941), eldest daughter of Fürst Richard von Metternich (the Austrian Chancellor's eldest surviving son, who was Austrian ambassador to France during the reign of Napoleon III) and of his wife, and niece, the former Countess Pauline Sándor von Szlanicza (1836-1921), one of the most famous luminaries at the court of Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie. Pauline was the daughter of Princess Leontine von Metternich (1811-1861) and of her husband Count Moritz Sándor von Szlanicza, who died in 1878.

Sophie, the eldest of three daughters, married Fürst Franz Albrecht zu Oettingen-Oettingen und Oetingen-Spielberg (1847-1916). Sophie was the mother of three children: Franz (1879-1895), Moritz (1885-1911) and Princess Elisabeth (1886-1976), who in 1910 married Viktor III (1879-1945), Duke of Ratibor, Fürst von Corvey.

It was Sophie's sister, Princess Klementine who adopted Franz Albrecht, Sophie's grandson. Since the adoption, which took place in the late 1920s, Franz Albrecht and his descendants have used the last name "Metternich-Sándor."

The Ratibor und Corvey family owned vast estates in Central Europe. These estates included the duchy of Ratibor in Upper Silesia. The title of Duke of Ratibor was acquired by Landgraf Victor Amadeus of Hesse-Rotenburg in 1821. King Frederick William IV of Prussia, in 1840, granted it to the landgrave's nephew Prince Viktor of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, in turn for his renunciation of the Hohenlohe inheritance in favor of his younger brother Chlodwig, who later became German Imperial Chancellor during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

From Landgraf Victor Amadeus, the last of his line, Prince Viktor of Hohenlohe-Schillngsfürst (1818-1893), who became the Duke of Ratibor and Prince of Corvey, besides Ratibor, inherited the impressive estate of Corvey in Westphalia. In Austria, the family owns one of the country's most beautiful estates, Schloß Grafenegg, site of a renowned summer music festival.

Although the family's once vast estates in Silesia and Bohemia were lost after the end of the Second World War, there was still quite a bit left. The remaining estates were inherited by Franz Albrecht, only surviving son of Princess Elisabeth and Duke Viktor III.

Franz Albrecht Metternich-Sándor, Duke of Ratibor, Fürst of Corvey, was born in Rauden (the duchy of Ratibor) in 1920. In 1962 he married Altgräfin Isabella zu Salm-Reifferscheidt-Krautheim und Dyck (b. 1939). The ceremony took place in Dyck, Germany. Married for nearly five decades, Franz Albrecht and Isabella were the parents of five sons: Viktor (b. 1964), married to Alexandra von Wohlgemuth, Tassilo (b. 1965), who is married to Countess Clarissa zu Törring-Jettenbach (Clarissa is a granddaughter of Princess Elisabeth of Greece and thus a Romanov and Schleswig-Holstein descendant), Stephan (b. 1968), who married Kathleen Robbins, Benedikt (b. 1971), who married Anna-Christine von Oswald, and Philipp (b. 1976), who married Countess Assunta Calice.

Duke Franz Albrecht passed away in June 2009. His obituary was included inside Eurohistory Issue LXXI (Volume 12.5 – October 2009).

His son Viktor IV is the current Duke of Ratibor, Fürst of Corvey.

The late Franz Albrecht, Duke of Ratibor, Fürst of Corvey,

Eurohistory Issue LXXI – Volume 12.5, October 2009

Monday, August 15, 2022

Prince Wauthier de Ligne (1952-2022), First Cousin of Grand Duke of Luxembourg

Prince Wauthier.

On Monday, 15 August, Prince Wauthier de Ligne died in hospital near Beloeil following a long illness. He was seventy years-old. 

Prince Antoine de Ligne and Princess Alix of Luxembourg on their wedding day, 1950.

Born on 10 July 1952 at the familial home, Château de Beloeil, Prince Wauthier Philippe Féliz Marie Lamoral de Ligne was the son of Prince Antoine, 13th Prince de Ligne (1925-2005), and Princess Alix of Luxembourg (1929-2019), who wed in 1950. Coincidentally, Prince Wauthier and his first cousin Archduchess Alexandra of Austria were both born on 10 July 1952 at Beloeil; Alexandra is the daughter of Wauthier's aunt Princess Yolande and her late husband Archduke Carl Ludwig of Austria. Wauthier had six siblings: Prince Michel (b.1951; married Princess Eleonora of Orléans-Brangaça), Princess Anne-Marie (b.1954), Princess Christine (b.1955; married Prince Antônio of Orléans-Brangaça), Princess Sophie (b.1957; married Count Philippe de Nicolay), Prince Antoine (b.1959; married Countess Jacqueline de Lannoy), and Princess Yvonne (b.1964; married Hugo Townsend, the son of Group Captain Peter Townsend, who was once very close to Princess Margaret). 

LIFE magazine dubs Wauthier the "Scene-stealing Prince" in 1958.
He was almost six years-old and an attendant at an aunt's wedding.
The closest that Wauthier ever came to publicity was in 1958, when he got a little squeamish during the wedding of his aunt Princess Marie Adelaide of Luxembourg to Count Karl Josef Henckel von Donnersmarck.
Prince Félix and Grand Duchess Charlotte.
Photo (c) Cour Grand-Ducale.
Prince Wauthier's paternal grandparents were Prince Éugene de Ligne and Philippine de Noailles. His maternal grandparents were Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma. Wauthier's paternal aunt is Archduchess Yolande of Austria (b.1923; née Princess de Ligne), who married Archduke Carl Ludwig, a son of Wauthier's maternal great-aunt, Empress Zita of Austria. Wauthier's brother Michel is the head of the princely house; and their sister Christine is the wife of Prince Antonio, who will likely be the eventual head of the imperial house of Brazil. Additionally, Wauthier's first cousin is Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg.
In 1976, Prince Wauthier married Countess Marguerite Régine Marie Françoise Xavière de Renesse (b.1955), the daughter of Count Guy de Renesse and Countess Elisabeth de Limburg-Stirum. The couple had three children: Prince Philippe (b.1977; married Laetitia Rolin), Princess Yolande (b.1979; married Paul Weingarten), and Princess Elisabeth (b.1983; married Baron Baudouin Gillès de Pélichy).

The funeral of Prince Wauthier de Ligne will take place on 22 August at l'église Saint-Pierre de Belœil.

May the Prince Rest in Peace. 

Source: Le château de Belœil perd l’un de ses princes, Wauthier de Ligne 

Sculptures of King Michael and Queen Mother Helen of Romania

King Michael.
In the Museo Pietro Canonica at the Villa Borghese in Rome, there are two sculptures of a mother and a son, a queen mother and a king. Both likenesses were created in marble by Italian artist Pietro Canonica (1869-1959). The sculptures depict King Michael I of Romania and his beloved mother Queen Helen of Romania. 

Queen Mother Helen.
To learn more, please visit the website of the museum:

Friday, August 12, 2022

Prince Achi of Greece Turns Twenty!

Prince Achileas-Andreas of Greece and Denmark
Today HRH Prince Achileas-Andreas of Greece and Denmark celebrates his twentieth birthday!

The prince was born on 12 August 2000 at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, New York City.. He is the third child and second son of Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and Crown Princess Marie Chantal (née Miller). Achi, as he is known in the family, has two older siblings: Princess Maria-Olympia (b.1996) and Prince Constantine-Alexios (b.1998). Achileas-Andreas was followed by two younger brothers: Prince Odysseus-Kimon (b.2004) and Prince Aristidis-Stavros (b.2008).

The christening of Prince Achileas-Andreas took place on 7 June 2001 at the Greek Cathedral of Saint Sophia in London. The Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, Gregorios, officiated over the ceremony. The prince's godparents are Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark; Infanta Elena of Spain, Duchess of Lugo; Prince Alexander von Furstenberg; Crown Prince Kardam of Bulgaria; Princess Rosario of Bulgaria; Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg; and Miss Veronica Toub.


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Achileas-Andreas was educated at Wellington College in Berkshire. With his parents and younger siblings, the prince moved back to New York City when his sister Olympia and brother Tino started university. In June 2019, Achileas-Andreas graduated from Dwight High School in New York. In September 2019, Achi of Greece began attending NYU (New York University).

Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Duchess de Almenara Alta (1924-2022)


Soledad Martorell y Castillejo, 8th Duquesa de Almenara Alta, died on 6 August 2022 in Madrid.

Sol's parents.

Born on 8 July 1924 at Madrid, María Soledad "Sol" Martorell y Castillejo was the daughter of Don Francisco de Borja Martorell y Téllez-Girón, 7th Duque de Almenara Alta (1898-1936), an aide to King Alfonso XIII of Spain, and María de los Dolores Castillejo y Wall (1898-1983), lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria Eugenia. Sol was joined by two younger sisters: doña María de la Concepción Martorell y Castillejo, Condesa de Alba de Liste (1926-2017), and doña María de los Ángeles Martorell y Castillejo, Marquesa de Villel (d.2021). Their father was killed during the Spanish Civil War.

On 4 June 1948 at the Iglesia de Santa Bárbara in Madrid, Soledad married Juan Pedro Soto y Domecq (d.2004). The couple had nine children: María del Carmen de Soto y Martorell, Condesa de Darnius (b.1952), María de la Soledad de Soto y Martorell; Francisco de Borja de Soto y Martorell, Duque de Escalona (1954-1997); María Inmaculada de Soto y Martorell; María del Patrocinio de Soto y Martorell; Juan Pedro de Soto y Martorell, Marqués de la Lapilla; Dolores de Soto y Martorell; Fernando de Soto y Martorell, Marqués de Paredes; and Manuel de Soto y Martorell, Marqués de Albranca. 

May the Duchess Rest in Peace.


Soledad Martorell Castillejo, la discreta señora de ‘cas Duc’ que amaba Menorca

Friday, August 5, 2022

Wedding Bells: Xenia Trotzky and Count Frederic von Brandenstein-Zeppelin

 Xenia Trotzky and Count Frederic von Brandenstein-Zeppelin celebrated their religious marriage on 30 July 2022 at Gröbming. The couple were civilly married on 11 June at Schluechtern.

Born on 23 February 1993, Xenia Trotzky is the daughter of Sergei Sergejewitsch Trotzky (b.1948) and Princess Felicitas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (b.1958), who wed in 1987. Xenia is the fourth of sixth children. Xenia's paternal grandparents are Serge Constantinovitch Trotzky (1901-1965) and Jacqueline de Cock; her maternal grandparents are Prince Johannes Heinrich of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1931-2010) and Baroness Gabriele von Fürstenberg (1921-2007). Xenia Trotzky studied management at HSE University; she is an account manager for Oracle in Amsterdam. 

Born on 31 May 1987 at Biberach, Count Frederic Constantin Hubertus von Brandenstein-Zeppelin is the son of Count Albrecht von Brandenstein-Zeppelin (b.1950) and Countess Nadine zu Ortenburg (b.1957), wed in 1981. Frederic is the fourth of sixth children. Frederic's paternal grandparents are Count Alexander von Brandenstein-Zeppelin (1915-1979) and Baroness Ursula von Freyberg-Eisenberg-Allmendingen (1917-1985); his maternal grandparents are Count Aurel zu Ortenburg (1927-2001) and Countess Isabelle Adrienne von Bentinck (1925-2013). Count Frederic von Brandenstein-Zeppelin is a lawyer in Düsseldorf; he will one day succeed his paternal uncle Count Constantin von Brandenstein-Zeppelin, the owner of Brandenstein Castle, in the administration of the family's forestry business. 

Our congratulations to the newlyweds and their families!

Source for civil wedding: Brandenstein-Neffe vor dem Traualtar: Adel feiert Hochzeit im Bergwinkel

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Princess Gabrielle d'Arenberg (1920-2022)

Princess Charles de Ligne, Madame Bertrand de la Haye Jousselin and Princess Armand d'Arenberg at a Parisian ball, 1950.
Photo (c) Robert Doisneau.

On 1 August, Princess Gabrielle d'Arenbeg died at her home in Paris. She was 101 years-old.

Born on 8 September 1920 at Biarritz, Gabrielle Marie de Lambertye-Gerbéviller was the eldest daughter of Charles de Lambertye-Gerbéviller, marquis de Gerbéviller (1883-1940), and Lorena Sancho-Mata y Contreras (1896-1991), who wed in 1919. Gabrielle was joined by two younger sisters: Maria del Rosario (b.1922; married Prince Jean Charles de Ligne de La Trémoïlle), and Leontine (1925-2016; married Prince Albert-Edouard de Ligne). 

In August 1941 at Paris, Gabrielle de Lambertye-Gerbéviller married Prince Armand-Louis Hélie d'Arenberg (1906-1985). The couple had two children, a daughter and a son: Princess Mirabelle (b.1947; married 1st Louis-Jean Loppin, Comte de Montmort; married 2nd Georges Hervet) and Prince Charle (b.1949; married 1st Philomène Toulouse; married 2nd Diane d'Harcourt). 
The funeral of Princess Gabrielle will take place on 8 August at the parish church in Gerbeviller; she will be buried in the family vault.

May the Princess Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Royal Engagement: Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Sophie Evekink

Sophie and Ludwig.

The engagement of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Sophie Evekink was recently announced.

Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, the eldest son and third child of Prince Luitpold (b.1951) and Princess Beatrix of Bavaria (b.1951; née Wiegand), was born at Landsberg am Lech on 14 June 1982. The prince spent his childhood at Schloss Kaltenberg with his parents and siblings. Ludwig attended the Rhabanus-Maurus-Gymnasium St. Ottilien in Eresing, Bavaria. From a young age, Ludwig showed an interest in technology and founded his own IT company at the age of eighteen. The prince then went on to study law and eventually received his juris doctorate. Thereafter, Ludwig spent a period of time under the tutelage of Duke Franz of Bavaria at Schloss Nymphenburg. As Head of House, the Duke has worked to guarantee that the prince, who is currently fourth in line to the Bavarian royal house after Duke Franz, Duke Max, and Prince Luitpold, will be adequately prepared to assume the duties that will be his when he becomes head of the royal family. Currently, Prince Ludwig runs the charitable foundation Hilfsverein Nymphenburg. Since 2011, he is mainly involved in East Africa and the country of Kenya, in particular. Through Hilfsverein Nymphenburg, Ludwig is engaged in fostering nutrition programs and social projects for children. Prince Ludwig lives ten months of the year in East Africa and two months in Bavaria, where he carries out representative duties on behalf of the Royal House. Along with Benedikt Wahler, Ludwig co-founded Startup Lions in 2015, which is described as follows on its website: “We are an impact sourcing digital service provider, and innovative startup incubator. We offer clients high quality outsourcing services in IT & Media tasks, simple and repetitive ones but also more complex creative and technical ones in the field of programming, graphic design and video and music production. We enable the youth living in rural, economically depressed regions of East Africa, to develop their talent and make a career while staying in their home regions.” Ludwig serves as CEO of Startup Lions, which is based in Turkana in northern Kenya. 


Sophie-Alexandra Evekink was born in 1989 in Singapore to a Dutch patrician family. She is a dual Canadian-Dutch citizen. Sophie gradated with a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and East European Studies from University College London.  Sophie works for the World Health Organisation in Geneva. She is currently a obtaining a Doctorate of Philosophy in Criminology from Oxford. Sophie has published two peer-reviewed articles:
"Retributive or Restorative? Prospects for Justice for Those Who Live Side by Side with Their Aggressors" and "Youth to Parent Violence: A More Complex Form of Family Violence?". Sophie Evekink is the daughter of Dorus E. Evekink (b.1941), a lecturer/program manager at Maastricht School of Business; she has at least two older brothers, Huibert Evekink and Paul Evekink.

Our congratulations to Sophie and Ludwig on their engagement!


University of Oxford - Faculty of Law: Sophie Evekink

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The 95th Birthday of Sylviane Muselier, Half-Sister of Queen Geraldine of Albania

Sylviane in front of portraits of her sister Queen Geraldine and her brother-in-law King Zog.

Today, Sylviane Girault Muselier turns ninety-five!

Gladys Virginia Stewart.

Born on 3 August 1927 at Mehun-sur-Yèvre, Centre-Val de Loire, Sylviane Girault was the eldest child of and Gontran Girault (1882-1964) and Gladys Virginia Stewart (1891–1947), who wed in 1926. Sylviane was joined by two younger siblings: Guy Girault (b.1930) and Patricia Girault (b.1932). Sylviane's mother Gladys had previously been married in 1914 to Count Gyula Apponyi de Nagy-Appony (1873–1924). From this marriage, Sylviane had three older siblings: Countess Geraldine (1915-2002; married King Zog I of the Albanians), Countess Virginia (1916-2002; married 1st András Baghy; married 2nd Joseph Blackburn; married 3rd József Máriássy), and Count Gyula (1923-1946).

The family at Marseilles in 1955.
(left to right) Sylviane, Queen Geraldine, Gontran Gilrault, Princess Senije, and Crown Prince Leka.

On 18 December 1955, Sylviane Girault married Maurice Muselier (1907-1989), the son of Admiral Émile Muselier, who fought against the Nazi invasion of France. The couple had two children: Corinne Muselier (married 1st Bernard Serour; married 2nd Roger Tréger) and French doctor and politician Renaud Muselier (b.1959; married Stéphanie Clément). 

Sylviane with her son Renaud and other family attend the royal wedding.
Photo (c) Seth B. Leonard.

In October 2016 in Tirana, Sylviane Muselier attended the wedding of her great-nephew Crown Prince Leka of Albania to Elia Zaharia. Seventy-eight years earlier, Sylviane was present for the wedding of Leka's grandparents, King Zog of Albania and Countess Geraldine Apponyi de Nagy-Appony. At the time of her half-sister's wedding in 1938, Sylviane was just ten years-old.

Sylviane Muselier and President Ilir Meta, 2017.

In 2017, the President of Albania awarded the Mother Teresa Medal to Sylviane Muselier. The award was given to Madame Muselier "as a testament of deep gratitude for her remarkable contributions, over many years, in four of sick children and Albanian families in need, for her concern and for her humanitarian and medical support as well as in recognition of the her promotion of the values and image of Albania and Albanians in France."

Sylviane with her great-nephew Crown Prince Leka and his wife Crown Princess Elia in 2019.

Our best wishes to Madame Muselier on her birthday!

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