Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Saxony – Reconciliation in the Works

A small funeral, attended by members of the family, laid to rest the earthly remains of the late Margrave of Meißen, Maria Emanuel of Saxony. The mourners gathered at the Wettin Royal Chapel in Brennbichl, Austria. Surrounded by towering peaks, this small chapel was chosen by members of the Royal House of Saxony to be the site of their family necropolis.

The immediate family of the late Margrave were present to lend their support to his grieving widow, while also paying their respects to a truly nice man. Surrounding the Margravine Anastasia-Luise were her nephew Alexander, the new Margrave of Meißen, his wife Gisela of Bavaria and their four children. Also attending the funeral ceremony was Prince Albert of Saxony, who was accompanied by his widow Elmira. They were the couple that had tried to revoke a family accord that settled the Royal Saxon succession.

The earthly remains of Maria Emanuel were placed in a sealed zinc coffin, which was then placed inside an oak coffin. During the ceremony the Royal Saxon standard covered the coffin.

Had Maria Emanuel ruled Saxony, his reign would have last nearly four and a half decades as his father, Friedrich Christian, the first Margrave of Meißen, passed away in 1968. The last King of Saxony, Friedrich August III, died in 1932. Among his siblings was Maria Josepha, who in 1886 married Archduke Otto of Austria, a nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph. Otto and his wife were the parents of two sons: Archduke Karl, who in 1916 succeeded as the last Austro-Hungarian monarch, and Maximilian, who was the father of Archduke Ferdinand and Archduke Heinrich. Ferdinand's children include Archduke Maximilian, who resides in Madrid, and Fürstin Sophie zu Windisch-Grätz, who resides in Italy. Their mother is Archduchess Helen (née Toerring-Jettenbach), the only daughter of Princess Elisabeth of Greece, herself the middle daughter of Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna of Russia.

It was also reported that previous to the funeral ceremony, the new Margrave, Prince Alexander, met with his uncle Prince Albert (who had claimed the title immediately after Maria Emanuel's death). As a result of this meeting, yet to be confirmed by Prince Alexander to us, Prince Albert is said to have initiated a reconciliation and told the press, "I just want peace in the royal house!"

The public requiem for Margrave Maria Emanuel is this Friday in Dresden.

 The late Margrave of Meißen, Maria Emanuel of Saxony.

Prince Alexander of Saxony, Margravine Anastasia-Luise and Margrave Maria Emanuel
of Meißen, Princess Gisela of Bavaria.

The Olympics – The Queen's Granddaughter Wins Silver

LONDON – Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter Zara (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)Phillips clinched a dramatic silver medal at London 2012 on Tuesday, while being cheered on by jubilant members of the royal family.
Phillips was part of the Great Britain team that finished behind Germany in the three-day eventing equestrian competition, with Prince William and Harry; William’s wife, Kate; her mother, Princess Anne; and the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, all looking on from the stands at Greenwich Park.
Having suffered the disappointment of missing out on both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games when her horse was injured, Phillips could not conceal her delight at experiencing the crowning moment of her career and paid tribute to the familiar faces in the crowd.
"It was wonderful to have such great support from the people close to me," Phillips said. "It was nerve-wracking but it is fantastic to win a medal. Everyone deserves it."
Despite being allowed certain privileges as a member of the royal family, Phillips has insisted on living like any other Olympian during the Games.
The 31-year-old has shunned usual bodyguard protection and the luxury home she shares with her husband, England rugby captain Mike Tindall, to stay in the Olympic Village, while rising early each day for workouts with her horse, High Kingdom.
Continue reading...

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!           

The London Olympics – The Queen Steals the Show!

A great report on last night's cameo by Her Majesty The Queen!

Dr Otto von Habsburg – Monarchy vs. Republic

We come here to the formal aspect of the State -- the question of monarchy versus republic -- which is mostly discussed from a highly emotional rather than a rational point of view. The debate proceeds by arguments ad hominem. A few undignified occupants of royal thrones are enumerated, and are then presented as examples of monarchy as such. The defenders of monarchy are no better. They point to corrupt professional politicians, of whom there exist a sufficient number, and claim that this is the necessary consequence of a republican constitution. Neither is a rational argument. There have been good and bad monarchies -- good republics (like Switzerland), and others which are far from living up to the same standard.

Every human institution, after all, has its good and bad sides. As long as this world is inhabited by men and not angels, crimes and mistakes will continue to occur... Republicans are fond of claiming that a monarchical regime means the rule of the aristocracy. Monarchists, on the other hand, point to the economic difficulties, the tax burdens, and State interference in private life in present-day republics, and compare this state of affairs with the freedom and economic well-being under the pre-1914 monarchies. Both arguments are unconvincing. They use the old propagandist trick of comparing results brought about by entirely dissimilar causes. Anyone who is honest will compare present-day monarchies with present-day republics. It will then be apparent that the aristocracy of birth occupies no greater share of leading positions in monarchies than in republics, and that all states, whatever their form of government, are equally affected by the serious problems of the present day.

Republicans frequently claim, in addition, that monarchy is a form of government belonging to the past, while republicanism is that of the future. Even a slight knowledge of history is enough to disprove this. Both forms have been in existence since the earliest times (though the monarchical periods have usually lasted considerably longer than the republican ones). In any case, it is misleading to call an institution which we already find in ancient Greece, Rome and Carthage, the form of government of the future. 

In any objective discussion, we must also assign this question its proper place in our hierarchy of values. It is not an accident that we speak of the "form" of government. There is a great difference between the "form" and the "content" -- or purpose -- of the State. The latter is its essential raison d'etre, its very soul. The former corresponds to the bodily form of a living being. The one can certainly not exist without the other; but in any sane hierarchy of values the soul occupies a higher place than the body. 

The essential purpose of the State, its "content," is rooted in natural law. The State is not an end in itself; it exists for the sake of its citizens. It is therefore not the source of all law (a claim that is still far too widely accepted), nor is it all-powerful. Its authority is circumscribed by the rights of its citizens. It is only free to act in those fields that are outside their free initiative. The State is therefore at all times the servant of natural law. Its task is to give practical effect to this law; nothing more.

If the mission of the State is the practical realization of natural law, the form of government is a means by which the community attempts to achieve this aim. It is not an end in itself. This explains the relatively subordinate importance of this whole question. Undoubtedly a great deal of importance attaches to the choice of the right means, since this choice will determine whether or not the end is attained. But what is lasting in political life is only natural law. The attempt to realize this law in practice will always have to take account of current conditions. To speak of an eternally valid form of government, right under all circumstances, shows ignorance and presumption. 

From this it would seem to follow that it is fruitless to try to determine -- mostly from the wrong philosophical premises -- the objective value of one or the other form of government. The discussion will only become fruitful if we keep in mind the end which every such form is intended to serve. It is therefore not a question of investigating what value we are to attach to monarchies or republics as such. What we must ask ourselves is which form offers the best chances of safeguarding natural law under present-day conditions.

Once this point has been clarified, we can pass on to two other problems, which have frequently been dragged into this discussion and are threatening to poison the whole atmosphere. There is constant controversy about the relation between monarchism, republicanism and democracy. Here again we encounter the blurred thinking characteristic of our era of slogans and propaganda. The concept of democracy has become infinitely elastic. In Russia it is compatible with mass liquidations, secret police and labour camps. In America, on the other hand -- and occasionally in Europe -- even political theorists are frequently unable to distinguish between republicanism and democracy. Furthermore, both words are used to designate conceptions and characteristics that go far beyond the political field, and belong to the economic or sociological sphere. It must therefore be clearly stated that, generally speaking, democracy means the right of the people to participate in determining their own development and future.

If we accept this definition, we shall see that neither of the two classical forms of government is by nature linked with democracy. Democracy can exist under both forms, just as there exist authoritarian republics as well as monarchies. Monarchists, in fact, frequently claim democracy functions better under a monarchy than under a republic. If we look at present-day Europe, there is certainly some truth in this argument, though its validity may be restricted in time and space. At the same time, it is necessary to point out that in small states which are strongly rooted in their traditions, like Switzerland, democracy and republicanism can coexist successfully.

Still more hotly discussed is the question of monarchism and socialism, and republicanism and socialism. The reason for this is largely that in German-speaking countries the great majority of the official socialist parties are republican in outlook. Hence we find there among narrow and uneducated minds the belief that socialism and monarchism are incompatible. This belief is due to a basic confusion. Socialism -- at least in its present- day form -- is essentially an economic and social program. It has nothing to do with the form of government. The republicanism of some socialist parties does not arise from their actual programs, but is due to the personal beliefs of their leaders. This is shown by the fact that the majority of the really powerful European socialist parties are not republican but monarchist. This is the case in Britain, in Scandinavia and in Holland. In all these countries we not only find excellent relations existing between the Crown and the socialists, but one cannot escape the impression that a monarchy provides a better soil for working-class parties than a republic. In any case, experience shows that socialism remains longer in power under a monarchy than under a republic. One of the great leaders of the British Labour Party explained this by the moderating and balancing influence of the Crown, which enabled socialists to carry through their program more slowly, more reasonably, and hence also more successfully. At the same time, a ruler standing above the parties represented a sufficient safeguard to the opposition, so that it need not have recourse to extreme measures in order to regain power. It could watch developments more calmly.

Whether or not this is true, the facts prove that it is unjustified to draw an artificial dividing-line between monarchism and socialism, or between monarchism and classical democracy. The same applies to republicanism. One other point must be mentioned. This is the frequent confusion, particularly among those not trained in political science, between monarchy as a form of government and one or other monarchical dynasty; in other words, the confusion between monarchism and legitimism.

Legitimism, a special tie with one person or one dynasty, is something that can hardly ever be discussed in reasonable and objective terms. It is a matter of subjective feeling, and is therefore advocated or opposed by arguments ad hominem. Any rational discussion of current problems must therefore make a clear distinction between monarchism and dynastic legitimism. The form of government of a State is a political problem. It must therefore be discussed independently of the family or person who stand, or stood, at the head of the State. Even in monarchies dynastic changes take place. In any case, the institution is of greater importance than its representative; the latter is mortal while the former is, historically speaking, immortal.

To look at a form of government merely with an eye to its present representative leads to grotesque results. For in that case republics, too, would have to be judged not on political grounds, but according to the characters of their presidents. This would, of course, be the height of unfairness.

It should be added that among the protagonists of monarchism in republican Europe, there are relatively few legitimists. King Alfonso XIII of Spain once remarked that legitimism cannot survive one generation. It is valuable where there exists a strongly established, traditional form of government, with which most of the citizens are satisfied. But this kind of legitimism can be found in republics as well as in monarchies. One can speak of republican legitimism in Switzerland and the United States just as one can speak of monarchist legitimism in Britain and Holland. In most countries of Europe, of course, there have been so many profound changes in the course of the centuries that legitimism is less frequently encountered. Under such conditions, it is particularly dangerous to have recourse to emotional arguments.

We are now in a position to define what we understand by a monarchy and a republic. Monarchy is that form of government in which the head of State is not elected, bases his office on a higher law, with the claim that all power derives from a transcendental source. In a republic, the highest officer of State is elected, and hence derives his authority from his electors, that is, from the particular group which elected him.

Leaving aside purely emotional considerations, there are good arguments for both of these basic forms of government. The most important arguments in favour of republicanism can be summarized as follows: In the first place, republics are, with few exceptions, secular. They require no appeal to God in order to justify their authority. Their sovereignty, the source of their authority, derives from the people. In our time, which turns increasingly away from religious concepts, or at least refers them into the realm of metaphysics, secular constitutional concepts and a secular form of government are more easily acceptable than a form rooted, in the last resort, in theocratic ideas. It is, therefore, also easier for a republic to embrace a secular version of the Rights of Man. The advantage this form of government offers would therefore seem to be that it is in closer touch with the spirit of our time, and hence with the great mass of the population.

In addition, the choice of the head of State depends not on an accident of birth, but on the will of the people or of an elite. The president's term of office is limited. He can be removed, and if he is incapable it is easy to replace him. Himself an ordinary citizen, he is in closer touch with real life. And it is to be hoped that, with better education, the masses will become increasingly capable of choosing the right man. In a monarchy, on the other hand, once a bad ruler has ascended the throne, it is almost impossible to remove him without overthrowing the whole regime. And lastly it is claimed that the fact that every citizen can, at least theoretically, become president, encourages a sense of political responsibility and helps the population to attain political maturity. The patriarchal character of a monarchy, on the other hand, leads the citizens to rely on their ruler, and to shift all political responsibility on to his shoulders.

In favour of monarchism, the following arguments are put forward: Experience shows that kings mostly rule better, not worse, than presidents. There is a practical reason for this. A king is born to his office. He grows up in it. He is, in the truest sense of the word, a "professional," an expert in the field of statecraft. In all walks of life, the fully qualified expert is rated higher than the amateur, however brilliant. For particularly in a difficult, highly technical subject -- and what is more difficult than the modern State? -- knowledge and experience outweigh sheer brilliance. The danger certainly exists that an incompetent may succeed to the throne. But was not a Hitler chosen as leader, and a Warren Harding elected president? In the classical monarchies of the Middle Ages, it was almost always possible to replace an obviously incapable successor to the throne by a more suitable one. It was only with the decadence of monarchism, in the age of the courtly despotism of Versailles, that this corrective was discarded. Nothing would be more appropriate in a modern monarchy than the institution of a judicial tribunal, which could, if necessary, intervene to change the order of succession to the throne. 

Even more important than the king's "professional" qualifications is the fact that he is not tied to any party. He does not owe his position to a body of voters or the support of powerful interests. A president, on the other hand, is always indebted to someone. Elections are expensive and difficult to fight. The power of money and the great mass organizations always makes itself felt. Without their help, it is almost impossible to become the head of State of a republic. Such support is not, however, given for nothing. The head of State remains dependent on those who helped him into the saddle. It follows that the president is mostly not the president of the whole people, but only of those groups that helped him to attain office. In this way, political parties or groups of economic interests can take over the highest command positions of the State, which then no longer belongs to the whole people, but, temporarily or permanently, becomes the privileged domain of one or another group of citizens. The danger exists therefore that a republic will cease to be the guardian of the rights of all its citizens. This, it is stressed by monarchists, is particularly dangerous at the present time. For today the rights of the individual and of minority groups are in greater danger than ever before. Financial power- concentrations and large, powerful organizations generally are everywhere threatening the "little man." Particularly in a democracy, it is extremely difficult for the latter to make himself heard, since this section of the population cannot easily be organized and is of no great economic importance. If even the topmost pinnacle of the State is handed over to political parties, there will be no one to whom the weak can turn for help. A monarchical ruler, on the other hand -- so it is claimed -- is independent, and is there for all citizens equally. His hands are not tied in the face of the powerful, and he can protect the rights of the weak. Particularly in an age of profound economic and social transformations, it is of the highest importance that the head of State should stand above the parties... 

And, finally, the Crown contributes to political life that stability without which no great problems can be solved. In a republic, the firm foundation is lacking. Whoever is in power must achieve a positive success in the shortest possible time, otherwise he will not be re-elected. This leads to short-term policies, which will not be able to cope successfully with problems of world-historical scope.

There is one more point we must consider before we can answer the question of which form of government will best serve the community in the future. Generally speaking, democratic republics represent a regime dominated by the legislature, while authoritarian regimes are dominated by the executive. The judicial power has not had the primacy for a long time, as we have shown above. It found its earlier expression in the Christian monarchies. It is frequently forgotten that the true ruler has always been the guardian of law and justice. The most ancient monarchs -- the kings of the Bible -- came from the ranks of the judges. St. Louis of France regarded the administration of justice as his noblest task. The same principle can be seen in the many German "Palatinates," since the Count Palatine (Palatinus) was the guardian of law and justice delegated by the King- Emperor. The history of the great medieval monarchies shows that the legislative power of the king -- even of a king as powerful as Charles V -- was severely limited by local autonomies. The same is true of the ruler's executive function. He was not, in the first place, a law-giver or head of the executive; he was a judge. All other functions were subordinate, and were only exercised to the extent necessary to make his judicial function effective.

The reason for this institutional arrangement is clear. The judge must interpret the meaning of law and justice, and to do this he must be independent. It is essential that he should not owe his position, his function, to any man. The highest judge, at least, must be in this position. This is only possible under a monarchy. For in a republic, even the highest guardian of the law derives his position from some other source, to which he is responsible and on which he remains dependent to some extent. This is not a satisfactory state of affairs. His most important task is not to pass judgment in actual legal disputes, but to stand guard over the purpose of the State and natural law. Above all, it is the task of the supreme judge to see that all legislation is in accordance with the State's fundamental principles, that is, with natural law. The monarch's right to veto legislation passed by parliament is a remnant of this ancient function...

The future form of the State will be something entirely new, something which will represent principles of eternal validity in a form appropriate to the future, without the errors of the past...

The hereditary character of the monarchial function finds its justification not merely in the "professional" upbringing of the heir to the throne. Nor is it merely a question of continuity at the summit of the political hierarchy, though such continuity is highly desirable when it is a question of planning for generations to come. Its deepest justification lies in the fact that the hereditary ruler owes his position not to one or another social group, but to the will of God alone. That is the true meaning of the frequently misunderstood words, "by the grace of God," which always signify a duty and a task. It would be wrong for the ruler by the grace of God to regard himself as an exceptional being. On the contrary, the words, "by the grace of God," should remind him that he does not owe his position to his own merits, but must prove his fitness by ceaseless efforts in the cause of justice.

While there is thus much to be said for a hereditary transmission of the supreme position of the State, there is also one serious drawback, which has already been mentioned. If the succession occurs automatically, there is the possibility that the throne will be occupied by an incompetent. This is the greatest danger of the monarchial system. On the other hand, this danger only dates from the period when the inflexible legitimism of Versailles came into being, and the safeguards present in one form or another in most classical monarchies disappeared. Such safeguards would therefore have to be built into any future monarchical constitution. It would be wrong to hand this task over to political bodies, as that would open the door to private interests. The decision should be left to a judicial tribunal. The king, as the highest constitutional judge of the State, cannot exercise his function in a vacuum. He will have to be assisted by a body representing the highest judicial authority, of which he forms the head. It is this body which should pronounce on whether a law or a regulation is constitutional, that is, in accordance with the purpose of the State. When the ruler dies, the other judges will continue in office. It should be their duty to pronounce on the suitability of the heir presumptive, and, if necessary, to replace him by the next in succession.

The activity of the head of State will undoubtedly go beyond the purely judicial field. He will have to control the executive, since it is his duty to see that the decisions of the judicial power are carried out in practice. Nevertheless, all these tasks will remain of secondary importance. It is in his judicial function that a twentieth-century monarch will find his primary justification.

©Arturo Beéche

Archduke Otto passed away last year, months away from his 99th birthday. He was a great humanist, he was a devout Catholic, he was a keen intellectual...He would have been a marvelous Emperor and King!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Royals at the Olympics

Britain's Prince Charles, left, and his wife Camila, Duchess of Cornwall arrive for the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The Olympics – Kate Meets Michelle

Kate Middleton decided to let the athletes claim the spotlight at the London Games' opening ceremony, wearing a classy but understated ice-blue coat dress by British designer Christopher Kane.
While the Duchess of Cambridge appeared elegant as always, the dress looked a little more buttoned up than her usual choices.

The Olympics – Royals Meet the Torch

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry watch Wai-Ming hand over the London 2012 Olympic Torch to John Hulse during a visit to Buckingham Palace during Day 69 of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay on July 26, 2012 in London, England. The Olympic flame is making its way through the capital on the penultimate day of its journey around the UK before arriving in the Olympic Stadium on Friday evening for the Olympic games' Opening Ceremony. (Photo by Ian West - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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) 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Presentation: Estoril – Los Años Dorados

Our dear friend Ricardo Mateos Saínz de Medrano, the noted and celebrated Spanish biographer, has presented in Barcelona his latest book, Estoril – Los Años Dorados.

The book covers the post-war years from 1946-1969 when the beautiful seaside resort of Estoril became home to many of Europe's exiled royals, from King Carol II of Romania to Archduke Josef of Austria.

The book, available only in Spanish, is a true jewel. The official presentation of the book was attended by HRH the Duke of Bragança, who flew in from Portugal to join in the festivities.

Someone ought to let me translate this beautiful work of royal history! escuchas...

At center, HRH the Duke of Bragança and Ricardo Mateos Saínz de Medrano.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Exhibition: The Killing of Nicholas II and his Family

An exhibition on their detention, killings and the subsequent investigations into them has opened at the Russian State Archives in Moscow.
It comes as Russians continue to reassess the reputation of their last tsar.
He and his family and four members of staff were killed without trial by Bolsheviks in the early hours of 17 July 1918, in the cellar of a house in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.
The Soviet authorities drew a veil over what had happened.
The exhibition's curator, Marina Siderova, says Russians now want to know more about the subject.
'Great interest'
"No one was talking about this before," she says.
A pistol and knife owned by Yakov Yurovsky, leader of the execution squadYakov Yurovsky's weapons are on display
"In Soviet times it was taboo, a closed subject and probably now we are only just starting to talk about this tragedy.
"The number of people visiting the exhibition shows there is great interest in this topic."
Continue reading...

Monday, July 16, 2012

News Release – Eurohistory Issue LXXXVII (June 2012)

Dear Subscribers and Readers,

We have been extremely busy here at Eurohistory. Besides working on two new books (more on this later), we are nearly done with our latest magazine, Issue LXXXVII (June 2012), which will go to print this week and begin mailing July 25!

Inside this latest issue our of widely-read magazine, you will find articles on the following topics:

1. Emperor Karl I of Austria

2. What's In a Photo – A Royal Wedding in Palermo (1931)

3. The Diamond Jubilee

4. The Wedding of HRH Princess Antonia of Bourbonp-Parma and Martin Krusbæk

5. Obituary: Dowager Fürstin Delia su Oettinegn-Wallerstein

6. Obituary: Doña Emanuela de Dampierre

7. Obituary: Count Carl Johan Bernadotte

8. Anniversaries – Archduchess Helen of Austria

9. Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg

10. Royal News

11. Book Reviews

As always, enjoy the reading!

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