Saturday, July 28, 2012

Royal Saxon Succesion Dispute – The Proof is in the Ink

On 14 May 1997 Maria Emanuel of Saxony, Margrave of Meißen and head of House, convened all members of the dynasty.

The topic at hand was legalizing his view of the Royal Saxon succession. The family's succession problem was caused by the expected exhaustion of the male line caused by childlessness and a morganatic marriage.

The Margrave's marriage to Princess Anastasia-Luise of Anhalt proved childless, much to the sadness of the couple, their respective families and their supporters.

Prince Albert, the Margrave's only brother, married late a Polish commoner who was nearly five years his senior. Obviously, there were not going to be any children from this union – Mind you, we are in Saxony, not in Romania where a commoner "faux" princess can give birth in her sixties to an "heir" to a false claim. Oh well...let's not digress...

Plain and simple, Albert and his wife Elmira had no children. This meant then that the male line descended from Prince Friedrich Christian, the first Margrave of Meißen, would become extinct.

King Friedrich August III of Saxony and his troublesome wife, the former Archduchess Louisa of Austria-Tuscany (whose exploits are well-known to many of us), had two other sons: Crown Prince Georg and Ernst Heinrich. 

Crown Prince Georg renounced his succession rights when taking holy orders. Obviously he would not leave any legitimate descendants.

Prince Ernst Heinrich married Princess Sophie of Luxembourg, a sister of Grand Duchess Charlotte. They had three sons (Dedo, Timo and Gero), but none of them left dynastic descendants. Dedo and Gero left Europe and settled in Canada. Neither married. Their middle brother, Prince Timo, married three times, but none of his wives was of equal birth. Hence, both children from his first marriage were born without succession rights, without title and without the right to use the style of Royal Highness. These two siblings, Rüdiger and Iris, were not, therefore, members of the dynasty. Their children, also product of marriages to commoners, were not royal either.

Hence, the line of Ernst Heinrich became extinct for dynastic purposes in 2009 upon the death of Prince Dedo.

Let us now return to the 1997 family agreement signed by living dynasts and their spouses and widow: Dedo (for himself and in representation of his brother Gero and their stepmother Virginia), Maria Emanuel and his wife Anastasia Luise, Albert and his wife Elmira, as well as their three sisters Maria Josepha, Maria Anna and Mathilde. Eight signatures by eight capable and able signatories well in the knowledge of what they were signing.

The agreement declared that upon the death of Maria Emanuel, his nephew Alexander would succeed both as head of House and as margrave of Meißen. Everyone read the document and all signatories knew what this legal decision entailed!

Initially, the Margrave had hoped that his sister Mathilde's only son would succeed, as Prince Johannes Albrecht of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha (1969-1987) was the product of a marriage among equals. His parents were Prince Johannes Heinrich of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha and Princess Mathilde of Saxony. The promising young man was their only child. The Margrave was grooming his nephew for Headship of House.

Unfortunately, destiny played a nasty hand on the Saxon Royal family. On 21 August 1987 Johannes Albrecht left his parent's home in Innsbrück. He headed for the mountains surrounding the beautiful and picturesque city. Johannes Albrecht had taken climbing as a passion, but his parents had cautioned him not to take risks. He told them he was going to one peak, but in fact headed for a harder one. By nightfall, as the young man did not return home as expected, his worried parents called a search. Worry led to angst and desolation as the days passed. His lifeless body was found several days later. A young life had been cut short by tragedy.

The Margrave's initial hope for the succession was thus no more. The only legitimate successors within the family nucleus were the three sons of Princess Maria Anna of Saxony and Roberto Afif, Prince de Gessaphe: Alexander, Friedrich Wilhelm and Karl August.

The eldest of the Margrave's nephews, Alexander had married Princess Gisela of Bavaria just eight days after the tragic death of his first cousin Johannes Albrecht. The deceased young man's half-sister, Felizitas, was a close friend of Gisela of Bavaria. Both families sharing close links of blood of friendship.

After their wedding, Alexander and Gisela settled in Mexico, where he managed his family's businesses. Their first child, Georg Philipp, was born there in 1988. Two more sons (Mauricio and Paul Clemens) were born in Mexico in 1989 and 1993 respectively. A daughter joined the family in 1999. By then Alexander and Gisela had settled in Dresden, where he worked for the government and maintained a very public and prominent role for the Saxon Royal family.

Surely, Alexander's dynastic marriage to Gisela enhanced his position within the family. Consequently, the Margrave of Meißen decided that it was his nephew who was in the best position to carry on the traditions and legacy of the Saxon dynasty. Being a man of great conscience, education and knowledge of legal matters, Maria Emanuel knew that to avoid obscurity and questioning, all aspects of the succession had to be clearly explained to all affected. The document signed by all dynasts, their spouses and widow was the culmination of the Margrave's thoughtful plan to put on paper what he had already decided in his heart and mind: Apres-moi, mon neveu!

The absence of any other male dynasts, as well as Prince Albert's decision not to question the succession, made it all much easier. Hence, on that late Spring day in 1997 the Saxon Royal succession was set in stone: At the death of the Margrave of Meißen, Prince Alexander of Saxony would succeed as Head of House and as the third Margrave of Meißen.

And this is how we come to this important juncture for the Saxon Royal family. Even though Prince Albert, whose ailments, force him to rely for all care on his wife Elmira, signed (as did her), now they question the document. Many are the other European Royal families where similar succession disputes exist (Russia, Italy, Two Sicilies, France, for example). But in each case a renunciation was either signed or a marriage contracted that excluded the dynast. I suppose that it is easier to avoid responsibility for one’s actions and instead focus on personal ambition and the benefits provided by a title. Yet Noblesse Oblige!

Since before 1997 Prince Alexander has been groomed for the position his uncle’s death now brings him. He has lived in Saxony and worked to improve the economic conditions of Saxon business and by consequence that of those citizens who work in them. Alexander’s marriage to a bona fides Princess, a great-granddaughter of Bavaria’s last monarch, only enhanced his serious dedication to the old traditions of his family and position.

May the new Margrave of Meißen enjoy a long and prosperous time as Head of House Saxony!

Le Roi est mort...Vive le Roi!           

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