Thursday, March 21, 2013

Saxe-Coburg & Gotha: Prince Andreas Turns 70!

Today, HH Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha, Head of House, celebrates his 70th birthday surrounded by family and loved ones.

The Prince, as Head of House, is the chief of the Saxe-Coburg & Gotha dynasty, famed for having provided not only Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert, but also dynasties to Belgium and Bulgaria, as well as consorts to the rulers of many European kingdoms (Portugal, Saxony, Romania, Russia, etc...).

Coburg dynastic marriage policy brought the family of the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha untold prominence across the European continent in a matters of a few years. Historians called the Coburgs, "the stud farm of Europe," due to the dynasty's uncanny ability to marry extremely well.

Prince Andreas, as it turned out, was the only son of Prince Friedrich Josias (1918-1998) and of his first wife (and first cousin), the former Countess Viktoria Luise zu Solms-Baruth. The mothers of bride and groom were sisters. Theirs was a wartime wedding celebrated at Casel, the bride's family seat, in January 1942. Andreas was born in Casel nearly fourteen months later on 21 March 1943.

Sadly, as was the case with many wartime weddings, Friedrich Josias and Viktoria Louise, once war ende din 1945, found it impossible to make their marriage work. Divorce ensued in 1946 and both former spouses established relationships with others. Friedrich Josias went on to marry twice more, producing children with his second wife, while Viktoria Luise met and fell in love with an American officer and relocated to the USA. In tow with his mother and her second husband was Prince Andreas, who was raised in America.

In the late 1950s Andreas began visiting his German relations as it was expected that he would, one day, inherit what remained of his family's once vast wealth in Thuringia and Austria. The following decade witnessed Andreas finally relocating to Germany to course further studies, while training to become the administrator of his family's estates. He began attending royal events and reestablished connections with many of his royal cousins. However, this did not lead to marriage within the confining bounds of the Gotha. Andreas met a lovely girl from Northern Germany (Hamburg) and eventually married Carin Dabelstein in 1971. The marriage, although unequal under the old house rules, was approved by Andreas' father, who himself had entered a similar marriage with his third wife. Times were changing and the Coburgs did not have an abundance of princes to carry the family's standard. In fact, the Coburgs were among the first of the old German dynasties to quietly change marriage policy and relax the previously oppressive rules that governed such alliances. Princess Carin was not to disappoint for she was an indefatigable companion to her husband and continues to be much liked by the people of Coburg.

Prince Andreas and Princess Carin had three children: Stephanie, Hubertus and Alexander. Only Hubertus is married. His wife is an American lady, Kelly Rondesvedt, whose arrival in Coburg was received with great enthusiasm in 2009. In fact, one can easily argue that Hubertus and Kelly's wedding was "the" royal event of Summer 2009 as it was a great celebration attended by a large number of royals from across Germany and Europe.

Prince Andreas has been an extremely successful administrator of his family's properties. On top of that, he has developed a keen interest in the history of his dynasty and uses his various palaces as venues for excellent exhibitions on the history of the Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. Also, with German reunification, the Prince gained control of property that had been lost to Communism in the immediate post-1945 partition of Germany.

I have met with Prince Andreas many times since first meeting him in the late 1990s. I have always found him a very approachable gentleman who is open to listen to one's point of view. He was among the first royals I interviewed in the pages of EUROHISTORY.

Today on the Prince's 70th birthday, We wish him good health and may he celebrate many, many more years among us!

 Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha.*

Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha.*

Prince Andreas and Princess Carin of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha.*

Hereditary Prince Hubertus and Hereditary Princess Kelly
of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha, Coburg 2009.

(*) The use of these images without prior permission from us at EUROHISTORY will me prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

No comments:

Post a Comment