Wednesday, July 25, 2012

+ Maria Emanuel of Saxony, The Margrave of Meißen (1926-2012)

Maria Emanuel of Saxony, Margrave of Meißen and undisputed Head of the Royal House of Saxony, has passed away suddenly on 23 July 2012. His death took place at home in La Tour de Pails, an idyllic lakeside town located between the better-known towns of Montreux and Vevey on the shores of Lake Leman. The Margrave of Meißen had lived in La Tour de Peilz for several decades and starting right after his marriage to Princess Anastasia-Luise of Anhalt.

Born in Prüfening near Regensburg on 31 January 1926. He was the firstborn child of Friedrich Christian of Saxony (1893-1968) and of his wife Elisabeth Helene (1903-1976), the only daughter, among several children, of Fürst Albert of Thurn und Taxis and of his wife Margareta, née Archduchess of Austria, herself the daughter of Archduke Josef and of his wife Princess Clotilde of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha (a granddaughter of King Louis Philippe of the French and older sister of King Ferdinand I of the Bulgarians).

Friedrich Christian of Saxony was the second son of King Friedrich August III (1865-1932) and of his wife Louisa, née an Archduchess of Austria-Tuscany. The King's sister, Maria Josepha, was the mother of Emperor Karl I of Austria, thus making Friedrich Christian a first cousin of the last Austro-Hungarian monarch. Married into a deeply Catholic family, Archduchess Louisa did not really fit in with her in-laws, This led to painful scenes for the family and much commentary, only incremented exponentially when she ran away with one of her children's tutors. Once divorced from Louisa, Friedrich August raised his children alone and the Royal family had only minimal contact with Louisa, who was thrown out of the Austrian Imperial House in lieu of her troublesome behavior and shenanigans. Louisa's last daughter, Anna Monica, was eventually brought back to Dresden and raised at court by a loving King Friedrich August III. She later married Archduke Josef Franz of Austria, a nephew of Prince Friedrich Christian's mother-in-law Margareta.

Maria Emanuel was not the first Prince of Saxony born after the fall of the monarchy in 1918, when his grandfather King Friedrich August III was forced to abdicate as the empire crumbled all around him. The King's third son, Ernst Heinrich (1896-1971), was married to Princess Sophie of Luxembourg (1902-1941) and they had three sons, oddly named Dedo, Timo and Gero. Their peculiar characters, and behavior, where as one of Sophie's nieces once said, "as queer as their names!" More on the odd Saxons later, I promise. (Also, what the princess meant was that they were "strange" – not Gay!)

In 1928 Princess Elisabeth Helene gave birth to a second child, Maria Josepha, who was followed the following year by another sister, Maria Anna. Five years later a second son, Albert, joined the children in the nursery. In 1936 the couple's youngest, Mathilde, was born. By then Friedrich Christian had succeeded his father as Head of House Saxony due to his older brother Georg taking holy orders, the King having died in 1932. As such, Friedrich Christian took the title of Margrave of Meißen.

The family spent time between their former kingdom, where they continued to own vast lands, and the Free State of Bavaria, where the Margravine's family owned vast properties. In fact, their five children were born in Southern Germany.

As Catholics, the Saxons opposed both Hitler's rise to power and the establishment of the Nazi regime. They would pay dearly for this stand. In 1943, former Crown Prince Georg, an open critic and opponent of Hitler, was found dead in mysterious circumstances near a bridge in Potsdam. Friedrich Christian and his siblings tried to stay at their various Saxon and Eastern German properties while avoiding further confrontation with the overlords from Berlin. His largest property, Schloß Sybillenort, which the Saxons had inherited from the last Duke of Brünswick, provided the family with comfortable refuge during the war. However, as Soviet forces poured across Germany's borders the Saxons were forced to flee west. Ernst Heinrich, who resided at the beautiful Schloß Moritzburg, barely had time to bury some treasures in a forest and flee quickly toward the west. In the end all these properties were lost, along with the priceless treasures that they housed. When reaching the west, the Saxon Royal family found itself dependent on the goodwill of the Thurn und Taxis and Luxembourg relations.

Finding husbands for dispossessed German princes and princesses proved a mighty obstacle for the Meißens. Maria Josepha never married, although she gave birth to a daughter. In 1953 Maria Anna married Robert de Afif, whose family were Lebanese princes. Her sister Mathilde married Prince Johannes Heinrich of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha in 1968. He was from the Catholic (Austrian) branch of the Coburgs. They had one son, Johannes Albrecht who was born in 1969 but died in a climbing accident in 1987. His uncle Maria Emanuel's cause was to suffer a grave loss with this untimely death.

Maria Emanuel married in 1962. His bride was Princess Anastasia-Luise of Anhalt (b. 1940), only child of Prince Eugen of Anhalt and his wife, the former Anastasia Jungmeier. Because the Bride's family lived in La Tour de Peilz, where Prince Eugen enjoyed a comfortable position working in finance, Maria Emanuel settled there as well. He joined his father-in-law and enjoyed considerable professional success. Sadly, the Margrave and Margravine of Meißen (he had inherited the title in 1968) were to remain childless. This situation was to cause deep complications for the Royal family, since Prince Albert remained a bachelor until 1980, when at the age of forty-six he married a commoner four years his senior, Elmira Henke, a forceful lady of Polish extraction. This marriage, clearly, was in contravention of Wettin Family law. Not surprisingly, Albert and Elmira remained childless.

The absence of an heir became a tantamount question for the Royal Saxons. As previously mentioned, the Margrave of Meißen firstly chose his nephew Johannes Albrecht of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha as heir. However, the young prince's untimely death left the succession question unresolved once again. Maria Emanuel's first sister had an illegitimate daughter and that would not do. His next sister had three sons from the Prince of Gesaphe: Alexander, Friedrich Wilhelm and Karl August. The Afifs thus provided the Margrave with a viable succession option, which was not the case with his weirdly named cousins. Gero and Dedo had migrated, with their father, to Ireland. Later on they moved to Canada where they became farmers. They remained unmarried and had no children. Their brother Timo, a most peculiar character, married several times and left two morganatic, and troublesome, children from the first of his three morganatic unions.

Rüdiger Prinz von Sachsen, Timo's only son, was to be the source of much trouble. Of course not being a full royal weighed heavily on him, yet he made no effort when searching for a bride from at the very minimum an aristocratic family. (Neither did his sister, who engaged in at least four marriages, one as disastrous as the next) Rüdiger married a German commoner and had three sons with his first wife before ending in jail for trying to run a medical business without having any medical background, or even a license to dispense prescriptions, which he was doing to unsuspecting patients. His wife had an early death in 1989, leaving her husband to raise (with shortage of funds) their three sons.  In later years, these morganatic Saxons would suffer from the same self-delusions that affect member of the Romanoff Family Association. They have convinced themselves of having royal status, which of course they never had, nor did the Margrave of Meißen ever grant them such a position or any titles for that matter.

In the meantime, Alexander de Afif, Prince of Gessaphe, eldest son of Princess Maria Anna of Saxony, was chosen by a family council, and at the urging of the Margrave of Meißen, his uncle, as the family's standard-bearer. In 1987 Alexander further strengthened his case by marrying his long-time girlfriend, Princess Gisela of Bavaria 9b. 1964), youngest child of Prince Rasso and his wife Theresa, née Archduchess of Austria-Tuscany, a great-granddaughter of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria.

Maria Emanuel clarified his stand further by declaring that Alexander would succeed him as Head of House. Prince Alexander of Saxony, as he is widely known today, has led a successful business career and for several years worked for the Saxon government's office of foreign investment. Alexander and his team played an important role in attracting foreign investment and businesses to the State of Saxony.

Alexander and Gisela have four children: Georg Philipp (b. 1988), Mauricio (b. 1989), Paul Clemens (b. 1993) and Maria Teresita (b. 1999). The three boys were born in Mexico City, where Prince Alexander managed his family's businesses. Their daughter was born in Dresden, the first Royal Saxon to be born in the family's ancient kingdom since 1936!

And now we turn to the succession...This is could to be, potentially, a messy situation.

I have met all three men involved. The late Margrave told me that his heir was Alexander, as per a family agreement signed by all members of the family, Prince Albert included.

Now, let me state...Alexander and Gisela are personal friends of mine. I first met Gisela soon after she settled in Dresden. We are both friends of Fé Coburg (half-sister of the late Johannes Albrecht of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha), and she put us in contact more than 12 years seems like long time when I first came to meet Gisela in Dresden. She later introduced me to her husband and we have remained in constant contact ever since. Earlier this year Alexander informed me that his mother had died before the news was made public. Both Alexander and Gisela are delightful people.

Some years ago I met Prince Albert. He came to the hotel where I was staying, a well-known Munich establishment. I took him and his wife to lunch and we talked for hours. Prince Albert seemed to me to be a rather affable, soft-spoken man, the "professorial" type. He told me that he had signed the family pact recognizing Alexander's rights...but his wife, a rather pushy and abrupt lady, interrupted and said, "well, we shall see when the Margrave dies...there are other candidates that I, we, think should be looked at!"

I reminded her that her husband had signed a family compact...she dismissed it and said the Rüdiger ought to be considered a viable candidate for Headship of House. "Agreements can be broken," Elmira emphatically said. "Not gentlemen's and family agreements, Madame," I replied. She seemed on edge and intent on making sure one knew who she was. I knew exactly who she was: a woman born in Lodz, a morganatic spouse...nothing more, nothing less. Needless to say there was not a second meeting.

Shocked by her out of place pushiness and meddling, I immediately informed both the Margrave and Prince Alexander and wrote out the transcript of the interview with Albert, parts of which I wrote for Eurohistory.

It seemed to me that Albert was under the control of his wife. He had trouble speaking due to the degenerative disease he suffers (poor man) and seemed completely dependent on dear Elmira.

Here is where it all rests...Alexander and Gisela have attended many royal events around Germany and other European nations. They are a delightful couple and have an extensive circle of friends and relations among the Gotha. 

Albert (a talented historian) and Elmira live in isolation in Munich and, well, enough said. Rüdiger and his bunch...two sons are married to commoners, one has a child, making Rüdiger a grandfather. In a decision that raised many an eyebrow, a few years ago Rüdiger placed an add advertising for a wife and in it he informed prospective brides that he had an income of €3,000, not a princely sum by any stretch of the imagination…really enough said.

The Margrave of Meißen, as he lived most of his very admirable life, will be laid to rest in private. He is succeeded by his wife Anastasia-Luise and his nephews and their descendants, all in shock by their beloved Maria Emanuel’s quick demise.

Prince Alexander of Saxony now becomes the Head of House Saxony.

The King is Dead...Long Live the King

King Friedrich August III of Saxony

Friedrich Christian, Margrave of Meißen

Maria Emanuel, Margrave of Meißen

Alexander, Margrave of Meißen
(b. 1954) 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent piece..I hope Elmira has read it..knowing her kind... she has.