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  #1  
Old 03-13-2008, 07:34 AM
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Heirs to the Austrian Throne and House Rules

Archduke Karl will head the House of Habsburg after Otto. Has he given any indication that he will work to maintain the family's position, such as it is, as pretender to the various thrones? I suppose that would take the form of charitable, cultural, and political roles.
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Old 03-14-2008, 06:05 AM
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Archduke Karl will head the House of Habsburg after Otto. Has he given any indication that he will work to maintain the family's position, such as it is, as pretender to the various thrones? I suppose that would take the form of charitable, cultural, and political roles.
Didn't Otto already "abdicate" as head of the family last year? IIRC there was some bad blood in the family because some Habsburgs seem to think that Georg should be the next head of the house because Karl, the eldest son of Otto, married just a baroness while Georg made an equal marriage according to the old terms.
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Old 03-22-2008, 07:14 AM
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Otto was the Head of the House when he gave approval to his son and heir's marriage. It doesn't matter if a few members of the family mutter about it still. I assume it a most unlikely event for Archduke Georg to become a rallying point for the disaffected and challenge his elder brother's position along the lines of what has happened in the House of Savoy.
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Old 03-22-2008, 07:54 AM
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According to this authorized Website he gave over the headship of the Family to his son Karl on 01.01.2007.
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Old 03-22-2008, 01:34 PM
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There is no reason why Karl shouldn't have followed his father. He was born of an equal marriage. The issue is whether Ferdinand Zvonomir should follow Karl. He was born of a marriage that was not deemed fully equal by most of the House because marriage laws in 1993 required equal birth and his mother was not canonically legitimate (she was born to two persons who were unable to contract a marriage under Catholic marriage requirements) meaning that her nobility was in question.

Karl's marriage would not have disqualified him, even if Otto had refused permission. It would have disqualified his male heirs, and the line would have been Otto -- Karl -- Georg -- Georg's male heirs -- the rest of the bunch.
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Old 03-24-2008, 02:03 PM
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According to the "new" houselaws of Habsburg-Lothringen Otto had the right ot decide who is equal and who isn't. In 1804 Franz II: of the Holy Roman Empire created in addition the "empire of Austria" and reorganised the other crowns that Habsburg controlled. He had realised that other souverain rulers of Germany sided with Napoleon and were going to construct something in Germany that challenged the Holy Roman Empire. So in order to save face he created a second empire, that of Austria and decreed that "The Head of the House of Habsburg-Lothringen is the emperor of Austria, king of Hungary etc." In 1806 Franz II./I. ended the Holy Roman Empire but continued to reign as Franz I. of Austria.

Based on these laws, the emperor Franz Joseph I. as "Head of the House of Habsburg" created the k.u.k. Doppelmonarchie (Imperial and Royal double-monarchy) in, I think, 1848 through giving Hungary in a new constitution equal status to Austria. So there is a case which shows that the Head of the House of Habsburg-Lothringen may reorganise whole empires and kingdoms on creating one equal to the other - why then should he not be able to give the status of equality to a lady?

Okay, back then the emperor simply had the power to control his family and make them obey, but according to the laws written in 1804 Otto was within his rights as Head of the House, he changed the laws on accepting a different definition of equality, just like Franz Joseph changed the laws on accepting a different definition of the interaction between Austria and Hungary.

Addition:

From the House Law, latest official edition from 1839:

§2. Dem Kaiser und Familien-Oberhaupte steht nicht bloss die Souverainetät und Gerichtsbarkeit über sämtliche Familienglieder, sondern auch noch das Recht einer besonderen Aufsicht zu, das sie insbesondere auf Vormundschaften, Kuratelen und Verehelchungen, überhaupt aber auf alle Handlungen und Verhältniße der Allerhöchsten Familienglieder erstreckt, welche auf die Ehre, Würde, Ruhe, Ordnung und Wohlfahrt des durchlauchtigsten Erzhauses einen Einfluß haben können.

Meaning beyond others rights that the Head of the House has the complete souverainity about the marriages of the members of the House.

In 1900 an additional list was published of families considered equal including some not considered equal before, but that only proves that the House Laws were adapted to modern times, so Karl's marriage is okay.
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Old 03-25-2008, 10:37 PM
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Karl's marriage was not okay to many members of the House. It was not okay to many other Catholic royal houses. And it certainly hasn't lasted. The House Laws of 1839 stated


House Law of Austria (1839)
Since Title 1 §1 of the Family Statute specifies that an equal marriage contracted with the consent of the current Head of the Family is a fundamental precondition for those issued from such a marriage to be considered as members of the House and therefore to enjoy the rights, privileges, honors, titles and arms to which they are entitled, We therefore hereby declare that such marriages will henceforth be deemed equal as members of our House contract:
  1. mit einem Mitgliede des Allerhöchsten Erzhauses eingehen,
  2. mit Mitgliedern eines anderen christlichen gegenwärtig oder vormalig souveränen Hauses, oder
  3. mit Mitgliedern solchen fürstlichen Häuser abschließen, denen nach Artikel XIV der deutschen Bundes Akt und nach dem von Weiland Seiner Majestät dem Kaiser Franz I. erlassenen Handschreiben de dato Pressburg 17 September 1825 das Recht der Ebenbürtigkeit zusteht und welche in dem Unserer gegenwärtigen Erklärung angehefteten Verzeichnisse namentlich angeführt sind. Dabei ist vorausgesetzt, daß die Personen, mit welchen Mitglieder Unseres Hauses sich vermählen, aus Ehen stammen, welche nach den Hausgesetzen des betreffenden Fürsten oder hohen Familien, oder in Ermangelung solcher Bestimmungen nach den in gegenwärtiger Erklärung des Näheren ausgeführten Grundsätzen Unseres Hausgesetzes als standesgemäß gelten. Ehen zwischen Mitgliedern Unseres Hauses und Mitgliedern eines fürstlichen Hauses, welchem nach Artikel XIV der deutschen Bundes-Akte und in Gemäßheit des obenerwähnten Handschreibens Unseres in Gott ruhenden Herrn Großvaters das Recht der Ebenbürtigkeit zusteht, gelten nur dann als standesgemäß, wenn entweder auch nach dem Familienstatute dieses fürstlichen Hauses die Ebenbürtigkeit eine Voraussetzung für eine standesgemäße Ehe ist, oder, wenn bei Ermangelung einer solcher statutarischer Bestimmung das Mitglied des fürstlicher Hauses, mit welchem ein Mitglied Unseres durchlauchtigsten Erzhauses sich ehelich zu verbinden die Absicht haben sollte, die Ritter- Turnier- und Stiftmäßigkeit des Adels seiner Geburt durch die ins beiliegenden Schema ersichtlich gemachte Abstammung von acht väterlichen und ebensovielen mutterlichen Ahnen, dann von dem in den fünften Grad eingehenden Elternpaare der beidenseitigen, directen Linie zu erweisen und auf Seite der zwei männlichen Ascendenten im fünften Grade zum mindesten einen drei Jahrhunderte ununterbrochen währenden Adelsbesitzstand, sowie bei den übrigen sechzehn adeligen Geschlechtern des Dasein der Ritterbürtigkeit strenge nachzuweisen vermag.
Alle anderen Eheschließungen können nicht als standesgemäße Ehen angesehen werden. Dieselben gelten nur als Ehen zur linken Hand, oder sogennannte morganatische Ehen und kommen diesen Ehen die Wirkungen der standesgemäßen Ehen nicht zu.

Diese Zustimmungen sind auch für die von dem Oberhaupt Unseres durchlauchtigsten Erzhauses einzugehenden Ehen maßgebend.
  1. with a member of the House
  2. with a member of another Christian house either presently or formerly sovereign, or
  3. with a member of those princely houses that have the right of Ebenbürtigkeit according to art. 14 of the Act of the German Confederation [of 1815] and to the act of His late Majesty Emperor Franz I given at Pressburg on Sep. 17, 1825, and who are mentioned by name in the list annexed to Our present declaration; provided that the persons with whom members of our House contract marriage are issued from marriages that are equal according to the laws of the relevant princely family, or in the absence of such dispositions according to the principles explained below in this present declaration. Marriages between members of our House and members of a princely house that has the right of Ebenbürtigkeit according to art. 14 of the Act of the German Confederation [of 1815] and in conformity with the said act of our uncle are valid as equal only if either Ebenbürtigkeit is a requirement for an equal marriage according to the family statutes of that princely house, or if, in the absence of such statutory requirement the member of the princely house whom a member of our House has the intent of marrying can demonstrate the nobility of his ancestry at the standard of Ritter- Turnier- and Stiftmäßigkeit, by proving the descent from eight paternal and eight maternal ancestors and then two pairs of ancestors in the 5th degree corresponding to the two direct paternal and maternal lines, displayed as in the annexed figure, then proving the uninterrupted status of nobility for at least 300 years in both male lines ascending from the 5th degree, and proving for the other sixteen families the status of Ritterbürtigkeit.
All other marriages cannot be considered as equal marriages. They are valid only as "left hand" marriages or so-called morganatic marriages and do not have the benefits of equal marriages.

These dispositions also apply to the marriages contracted by the Head of our House.


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Francesca didn't qualify under those rules. Her mother was non-noble, and descended from non-nobles, and her father's Hungarian title was inherited through adoption.

Otto changed the House Laws to get this marriage accepted, and that change rubbed a lot of the family the wrong way because he changed rules for his son, but wouldn't allow cousins to marry better than Francesca and have their marriages deemed dynastic.
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Old 03-26-2008, 04:25 AM
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Francesca didn't qualify under those rules. Her mother was non-noble, and descended from non-nobles, and her father's Hungarian title was inherited through adoption.

Otto changed the House Laws to get this marriage accepted, and that change rubbed a lot of the family the wrong way because he changed rules for his son, but wouldn't allow cousins to marry better than Francesca and have their marriages deemed dynastic.
Kelly, the question is who has a right to change these House Laws? And here the answer is clear: it's the Head of the House who by by right of that position is the emperor. There have been appendices added to the Law of 1838 in 1900, adapting the marriage laws to the latest developments in Europe. This was orderewd by the emperor as the Head of the house. Okay, he declares that he asked all agnates for advice but that was a political move.

So if Otto decides to adapt the House law to modern times, who is to gainsay him? Officially this House law has no relevance anymore as it was abolished in Austrian law anyway. So by now it's not longer an official law but a private family law, which, following the tradition of the family, accepts the Head of the house as the one to govern the other members.

As much as Franz Joseph decided which families he believed to be "ebenbuertig" in 1900, Otto could do it for his son and the other Habsburgs. Especially as today no special privileges, rights, tax advantages, civil list positions (allowance from the state) etc. are connected to that status. That other Habsburgs are not accord, does not mean anything: there were always Archdukes who were not in accord with the emperors but that didn't give them one iota of a right to decide for themselves. Or if they did, they had to leave Österreich-Ungarn forever.

Plus: he has accepted ladies of non-European birth, thus surely not meant by the old House law as equal - where is a source about which brides he didn't accept?
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:02 AM
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Reducing the argument to its basics is the proposition that the Archduke Otto, as Head of the Imperial House and de juré Emperor, had the right to determine the equality of marriages. While some Habsburgers may not agree with his decision regarding Francesca (and others), I am unaware of any serious challenge to the Head of the House's right to make such decisions, or in fact any decisions regarding House Law. My understanding is that while Head of the House, Otto was paramount.

Archduke Ferdinand Zvonimir bears the title of Prince Imperial and Archduke of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia. By this I take it he is a dynast, and therefore unarguably Karl's heir in the Imperial succession.
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:49 AM
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Reducing the argument to its basics is the proposition that the Archduke Otto, as Head of the Imperial House and de juré Emperor, had the right to determine the equality of marriages. While some Habsburgers may not agree with his decision regarding Francesca (and others), I am unaware of any serious challenge to the Head of the House's right to make such decisions, or in fact any decisions regarding House Law. My understanding is that while Head of the House, Otto was paramount.
Especially if one considers the history of the House of Habsburg - after the Habsburgs had taken hold of Austria (through political luck because the then ruler of the Holy Roman Empire who was duke of Austria and king of Bohemia appeared too powerful, so the other electors pushed the rather obscure Rudolf (IV.) of Habsburg as his sucessor as king and duke of Austria) Rudolf's successors tried in vain to be accepted as electors of the Holy Roman Empire, even though they married as much ladies from the Electing and Imperial families as possible.

So in 1358/1359 Rudolf VI. of Habsburg used a trick: he forged a document called the Privilegium Maius in which he claimed that his family had been awarded the title of an "Arch"-duke centuries before. Strange that nobody ever had heard of this title before.... Luckily for him, his father-in-law, the then emperor Karl IV.(of the House of Luxemburg) just laughed about Rudolf's antics, because he loved his daughter and liked his son-in-law and so the emperor protected Rudolf from the wreath of the prince electors.

80 years later Rudolfs grand-nephew inherited the possessions of the Luxemburgs whose lines had ended, married the daughter of then emperor Sigismund and became king of the Holy Roman Empire (to become emperor the king needed to travel to Rome and be crowned by the pope, not all kings managed that during their reign). As a king, he immediately accepted
the validity of the Privilegium Maius (of course!), as his family had used the title of archdukes/duchesses anyway since 1358...

Plus the Habsburgs always prefered a good dowry and inheritance rights to bloodlines. Emperor Maximilian for example chose rich heiress Beatrix Sforca for his second wife - the new empresses grandfather was the bastard of a farmer turned mercenary and had managed to conquer Milan - on then marrying the daughter of his predeccessor he started the "august" House of Sforza...

Same applies for Francesca Thyssen-Bornemitza - a rich heiress who will leave quite an inheritance to her son...
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Old 03-26-2008, 11:23 AM
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Reducing the argument to its basics is the proposition that the Archduke Otto, as Head of the Imperial House and de juré Emperor, had the right to determine the equality of marriages. While some Habsburgers may not agree with his decision regarding Francesca (and others), I am unaware of any serious challenge to the Head of the House's right to make such decisions, or in fact any decisions regarding House Law. My understanding is that while Head of the House, Otto was paramount.

Archduke Ferdinand Zvonimir bears the title of Prince Imperial and Archduke of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia. By this I take it he is a dynast, and therefore unarguably Karl's heir in the Imperial succession.
He had the right to declare marriages equal or unequal, yes, but the right to change the house laws was not allowed under the 1839 laws. 1804, 1848 and 1900 say nothing directly about the Head of the House being able to make unilateral decisions about changing the house laws. The Statute of 1839 was made "with the advice and assent of all agnates of our House", so that doesn't preach about the Emperor's ability to completely disregard the opinions of other dynasts.

In the modern world, where the Habsburgs are non-reigning, Otto might be changing his requirements for acceptance, but under the empire, unilateral changes were not made (if they were, surely Ferdinand, who ruled without the hindrance of a constitution, would not have sought the acquiescence of other dynasts). Otto may be able to change things willy-nilly now, but if he were a reigning monarch, he couldn't have done so. To say otherwise is to disregard the House Laws that existed under the monarchy.

Ferdinand Zvonomir is considered an Austrian dynast under the current house laws, but the ability of Otto to alter the house laws is not something that all agnates accepted then (or accept even now, because there are issues in the Italian lines of Este and Tuscany about whether Otto's moves were in accordance with House Laws).
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Old 03-26-2008, 12:10 PM
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... the ability of Otto to alter the house laws is not something that all agnates accepted then (or accept even now, because there are issues in the Italian lines of Este and Tuscany about whether Otto's moves were in accordance with House Laws).
Tuscany is an interesting example. Archduke Leopold Franz renounced his rights as Head of the Grand Ducal House in 1993 when he married Marta Perez-Fernandez (after being divorced in 1981). His son and successor Archduke Sigismund married in 1999 Elyssa Edmonstone, the daughter of a mere baronet, and this marriage was fully recognised by the Archduke Otto. If there are qualms about Otto's recognition of "unequal" marriages, I'm sure that neither Sigismund nor his Archduchess wife share them!

As to the Este branch, much as I would like to see a princely coupling, the pressure must be on poor Amadeo to make a match that will conform to his father's prejudices.
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Old 03-26-2008, 01:18 PM
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To say otherwise is to disregard the House Laws that existed under the monarchy.
As I tried to point out the House laws changed over the centuries according to an existing need. For example it is not a coincidence IMHO that a new House law was deemed necessary after Napoleon changed the face of the Holy Roman Empire. Or in 1838 when the revolutionary activities within the Habsburg-empire started to become serious in their effects towards the reigning family. The basis of all this was making sure to keep the power - when God's grace ceased to be an argument, the idea of the "augustness" of the family replaced it - in analogy to the political situation which became very much patrimonial and bourgeois (think of the German name "Biedermeier" for it, which translates to "era of the virtuous citizen" with the emperor being the father of all his subjects.

The declaration of the German empire, the placement of German princes on the Balkan-thrones, thus making them as Royal as the Habsburgs, plus the effects of the industrial revolution and better education on their subjects, the House laws worked as a fortress around their being human beings and helped the emperor controlling his family and further on the aristocracy and the increasingly powerful bourgeoisie.

So these House Laws had an actual meaning which they don't have anymore today.
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Old 03-26-2008, 04:48 PM
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Otto isn't the one who has problems with the Tuscans. Karl is. Karl has recently decided that the Tuscans are beholden to the main-line and cannot internally regulate succession to the non-existent Tuscan throne. That is the problem. He claims that after they lost their sovereignty (and he includes the Este group in this), they lost the right to regulate succession within their own branches (obviously they never had the right to regulate succession in the main-line). This after he in 2001 recognized the right of the Grand Duke of Tuscany to internally regulate Tuscan matters.

Amedeo has been seen attending nobility balls in Belgium (also attended by members of the Gotha), so he might not have as hard a time meeting someone his father will accept as first thought. His parents will surely bring out every Catholic princess in Germany in an attempt to find him a mate.

The need to update the House Laws is a given, even if only because the houses once deemed equal haven't been marrying equally themselves. But the ability to unilaterally change the House Laws is not a given. If a monarch who ruled by Divine Right, had to consult his family members for approval, then surely someone who is in exile, and is bound by a constitution (and who renounced his claims on the Austrian throne in the 1960s) must also require their consent. Did the house laws need updating? Of course. But are those updates valid without consent of dynasts? That depends on how much power you assign to Otto.

I remember reading a discussion about what it is that makes non-reigning royals actually royal, and one commentator said that it was an adherence to tradition that made them royal because that tradition was the only thing that made them different (they don't have a constitution proclaiming them royal, only their family history). Once they start to abandon that tradition, though, their claims to be royal can be summarily dismissed.
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:09 AM
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I remember reading a discussion about what it is that makes non-reigning royals actually royal, and one commentator said that it was an adherence to tradition that made them royal because that tradition was the only thing that made them different (they don't have a constitution proclaiming them royal, only their family history). Once they start to abandon that tradition, though, their claims to be royal can be summarily dismissed.
That's right, but there is a problem all Non-Royals face: they cannot longer deal with morganatic marriages as their reigning ancestors did. They all are normal citizens of their countries now, they have no longer any privileges. Otto for example cannot longer ennoble somebody like the emperor could - this ennoblement would be not valid.

Franz Joseph for example managed the unequal marriages of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in a different way than Ferdinand II. had managed the marriage of his brother Johann to Anna Plochl. While Johann had to wait 6 years for a permission to marry secretly, it took him further 15 years to get the ennoblement of his wife and his children to count/countess of Meran. Franz Joseph I. created the morganatic wife of Franz Ferdinand a princess on condition that his nephew renounced all rights of his offspring to the crowns of Bohemia and Hungary (these apparently could be inherited by children from a morganatic marriage, it was only Austria where this was impossible). Later Princess Sophe was created a duchess in her own right and her children were known as being especially close to Otto.

So what's to do today once a marriage is deemed morganatic? It's very difficult to be allowed to change your name in Germany, where former titles are part of the name. How could somebody who has the name of Archduke of Austria and the German citizenship explain at the registry office after the birth of a child that the child has a different name to his parents because his mother was not of equal birth?

It's difficult if you cannot change the rules once the reality of life has changed. But I agree with you, Kelly: Karl as the current Head of the house should try to find a solution for a new family codex in accordance with the agnates of the family.
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:26 AM
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Amedeo has been seen attending nobility balls in Belgium (also attended by members of the Gotha), so he might not have as hard a time meeting someone his father will accept as first thought. His parents will surely bring out every Catholic princess in Germany in an attempt to find him a mate.
And I'm sure every mother of an eligible archduchess or princess will be angling for invitations. I bet the Estes are popular on the Gotha social circuit!
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:59 AM
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And I'm sure every mother of an eligible archduchess or princess will be angling for invitations. I bet the Estes are popular on the Gotha social circuit!
I personally know of one occasion when a German princely couple had prince Harry as their guest and paraded all three marriagable daughters in front of him... much to the disgust of the youngest who was not yet 16 then...

But I doubt the Habsburg need any encouragement - they are pretty good at that game themselves. Just see how the heir of the heir of the counts of Neipperg (his mother being an archduchess) is engaged to be married to a daughter of a countess of Meran... Pillipp von Neipperg and Paula Wolff will marry this summer. Which is romantic in itself as he is a descendant of the Neipperg who caught Archduchess Marie Louise's heart, his mother is an archduchess married as well to a Neipperg and his bride is a descendant of Anna Plochl, the great love of Archduke Johann...
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:38 PM
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I personally know of one occasion when a German princely couple had prince Harry as their guest and paraded all three marriagable daughters in front of him... much to the disgust of the youngest who was not yet 16 then...
The Von Preussens in England? Meaning the daughters of Nicholas von Preussen (son of Brigid Guinness and brother of the Marchioness of Douro)? I'm surprised the youngest wasn't interested, but then again Harry has a reputation for drinking to the point that he expels the contents of his stomach all over people's floors.
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Old 03-27-2008, 04:04 PM
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The Von Preussens in England? Meaning the daughters of Nicholas von Preussen (son of Brigid Guinness and brother of the Marchioness of Douro)?
No, Harry was invited to go hunting at his host's estate in Bavaria - I think he went to school with the hereditary prince (Eton?) and so came visiting some years ago. Obviously he didn't like either princess...Or was it that they are catholic?
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Old 03-28-2008, 03:40 PM
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I don't think Harry goes for the traditional royal bride-type, so he probably didn't like either of them.
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