SUMMARY taken from the Times
Published at 12:01AM, June 15 2013
A great-great grandson of Queen Victoria, Prince Moritz, Landgrave of Hesse, was the head of the House of Hesse-Kassel by descent and of Hesse-Darmstadt by adoption.
Prince Moritz Friedrich Karl Emanuel Humbert was born at the castle of Racconigi, then one of the residences of the Royal House of Savoy, in 1926, the eldest son of Philipp, Landgrave of Hesse, and his wife, Princess Mafalda, a daughter of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.
He descended from Queen Victoria through his paternal grandmother, Margaret, youngest daughter of Emperor Frederick III of the Germans and Victoria, the Princess Royal in Great Britain.
Prince Moritz was the senior lineal descendant of the House of HesseKassel in the north of Germany, one of four branches of the ancient House of Hesse. In 1961 Prince Moritz was chosen as heir to his cousin, Prince Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt. Prince Ludwig was childless and the grandson of the last Grand Duke, Ernst II.
Moritz was a compulsory member of the Jungvolk and other Nazi youth organisations.
Moritz’s father, like many German princes,was an enthusiastic Nazi, drawn into the party through his acquaintance with Hermann Goering and other high-ranking Nazis. For a time he was close to Hitler. In July 1943, however, he was put under house arrest. Formally arrested in September, he was imprisoned in Flossenbürg concentration camp until April 1945. Only in 1948 did Landgrave Philipp emerge from Nazi and then American imprisonment.
In 1943 Princess Mafalda was tricked into going into the German Embassy in Rome to collect a message; she was subsequently imprisoned in Buchenwald. Prince Moritz never saw his mother again. During those years, he and his siblings were looked after by Princess Sophia of Hesse, widow of his uncle Christophe, and sister of the Duke of Edinburgh. His mother was killed when the camp was bombed by the allies.
In the latter years of the war Moritz served on a flak battery outside Kassel and witnessed the 1943 bombing of the town which destroyed most of the Landgravine Museum in Schloss Bellevue, the church of St Martin where his ancestors were buried, and much of the family’s Schloss Fasanerie.
In April 1945 Moritz and his siblings were living with their aunt Sophia at Kronberg, another of the family seats, when they were evicted by US Occupational Forces. Presently they were all housed by Prince and Princess Ludwig of Hesse at their Schloss Wolfsgarten.
His later life was no less turbulent. As a young man he was something of a playboy, leading the high life famously portrayed by Fellini in La Dolce Vita. The film included a scene in which the body of a young woman was found on a beach. This reflected the real-life case of Wilma Montesi, an Italian fashion model, who disappeared on April 9, 1953, and whose body was found a few days later, on a private beach in Ostia. It was not clear if she had committed suicide, drowned accidentally or been murdered.
Prince Moritz, blond and good looking, was part of the fast set in which Montesi moved, and it transpired that he had been at the wheel of his car passing near the beach in question. and later came out through a gate of a private beach, less than two kilometres from the scene of the crime. He had parked his car nearby For a time his passport was taken from him, but in due course he was exonerated of any involvement in the crime, which remains unsolved.
For a decade he ran the Hesse Hausstiftung, the foundation which managed all the Darmstadt treasures and properties, later handing over responsibilities to his son. He controlled the archives at Schloss Fasanerie and took a great interest in his family’s history.
In April 1978 Prince Moritz was dramatically seized by five amateur kidnappers. They had followed his movements carefully for more than four months and hoped to make money by demanding a ransom. Prince Moritz had not locked his door or put on the burglar alarm, but he had the presence of mind to put on an orange pullover, which he never normally did, thus alerting his staff that something was amiss. He was held for 90 minutes before being rescued by police, badly bruised and suffering from a pierced lung.
In June 1964, he married at Kronberg Princess Tatiana, daughter of the 5th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. They had two sons and two daughter, before divorcing in 1974. The elder son, Donatus, is the new Landgrave.
Prince Moritz led an active life, relishing his deep sea diving which he refused to give up even in his 80s, despite his doctors’ warnings.
Prince Moritz, Landgrave of Hesse, was born on August 6, 1926. He died on May 23, 2013, aged 86
This precious stone set in the silver sea,......
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,