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Maria Emanuel, Margrave of Meissen

Maria Emanuel, Margrave of Meissen

German noble
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro German noble
Gender male
Birth 31 January 1926 (Regensburg, Upper Palatinate, Bavaria, Germany)
Death 23 July 2012 (La Tour-de-Peilz, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland)
Star sign Aquarius
Mother: Princess Elisabeth Helene of Thurn and Taxis
Father: Friedrich ChristianMargrave of Meissen
Spouse: AnastasiaMargravine of Meissen
The details

Maria Emanuel, Margrave of Meissen (31 January 1926 – 23 July 2012) was the head of the Royal House of Saxony.


Born at Prüfening Abbey in Regensburg, Bavaria, he was the eldest child of the then Hereditary Prince Frederick Christian of Saxony, later Margrave of Meissen, and Princess Elisabeth Helene of Thurn and Taxis.

At the age of 18 Emanuel was imprisoned and sentenced to death by the Nazis for being opposed to their rule. After escaping his sentence he next had to escape from the approaching Soviets as his homeland Saxony became a part of communist East Germany as World War II wound down. After the war he moved to Switzerland where he began working in the financial services sector. Also being a talented painter Emanuel had a number of his works exhibited.

Although Marie Vassiltchikov recounts in her book The Berlin Diaries 1940-45 the story of the 16-year-old Hereditary Prince Maria Emanuel paying her a visit to seek her help in finding a bride, as he felt it was his dynastic obligation to start a family early, Emanuel would not in fact marry until his 37th birthday. His wife was Princess Anastasia of Anhalt (born 1940), whom he married on 31 January 1963 in Vevey, Switzerland. They had no children.

Maria Emanuel became head of the Royal House of Saxony upon the death of his father on 9 August 1968.


As Maria Emanuel fathered no legitimate children, he had acknowledged as his eventual heir Prince Alexander of Saxe-Gessaphe, the son of his eldest sister Princess Anna and her late husband Prince Robert of Gessaphe (or "Assaphe"/"Afif", descendants of a Lebanese Christian family which ruled a province north of Beirut). Maria Emanuel adopted Alexander on 1 June 1999, who had married Princess Gisela of Bavaria in 1987. In 1997 the surviving male dynasts of the Albertine line of Wettins consented to the Margrave's decision, Subsequently, his brother Albert stated that he no longer accepted the decision.

The royal line of the House of Wettin applies semi-salic law, which allows for inheritance through a female. Since the death of Maria Emanuel, if Albert was the last male dynast then this would lead firstly to the children of their sisters Maria Josepha (unmarried), Maria Anna and Mathilde, but only Mathilde's marriage indisputedly met equality requirements and her only son died in 1987. Therefore, if the Gessaphe claim is invalid, the succession would pass to the issue of the Margrave's paternal aunts, who were Margarete Karola (1900–1962), Maria Alix (1901–1990) and Anna (1903–1976), all of whom left children. Margarete having been the eldest, the heir would be her grandson Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern (born 1932), head of the princely line of the royal House of Hohenzollern.

The Margrave's brother Albert, however, supported discarding equality requirements to allow his cousin Prince Timo of Saxony's morganatic son, Rüdiger (born 1953), to eventually succeed. Rüdiger has, with his first wife Astrid Linke (1949–1989), three sons Daniel (born 1975), Arne (born 1977) and Nils (born 1978).

Although the Albertine Saxons consist only of the royal branch, there are several extant lines of the House of Wettin which ruled the various Ernestine Duchies until 1918 (as well as the cadet branches of the Coburg line which held several royal crowns). In a joint statement of 23 June 2015, the heads of the three remaining branches of the senior Ernestine line of the House of Wettin, Michael, Prince of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Andreas, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Konrad, Prince of Saxe-Meiningen, declared that, according to the house law of the House of Wettin and to traditional princely succession rules, Alexander Afif, bearing the name Prince of Saxony by adoption, were neither a member of nobility nor of the House of Wettin, nor had he succeeded Maria Emanuel as head of the Albertine branch (the Royal House of Saxony), nor were he entitled to style himself Margrave of Meissen.

Titles, styles and honours


  • 31 January 1926 – 9 August 1968: His Royal Highness Prince Maria Emanuel of Saxony, Duke of Saxony
  • 9 August 1968 – 23 July 2012: His Royal Highness The Margrave of Meissen


National dynastic honours

  • Kingdom of Saxony House of Wettin: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Rue Crown
  • Kingdom of Saxony House of Wettin: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Military Order of St. Henry
  • Kingdom of Saxony House of Wettin: Sovereign of the Order of Sidonia
  • Kingdom of Saxony House of Wettin: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Albert, Special Class
  • Kingdom of Saxony House of Wettin: Sovereign of the Order of Maria-Anna
  • Kingdom of Saxony House of Wettin: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Saxony

National honours

  • Anhalt Ducal Family of Anhalt: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Albert the Bear
  • Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Princely Family of Hohenzollern: Knight Grand Cross of the House Order of Hohenzollern
  • Holy Roman Empire Princely Family of Thurn and Taxis: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Parfaite Amitié

Foreign honour

  • Austria-Hungary Austrian Imperial and Royal Family: 1, 300th Knight with Collar of the Austrian Order of the Golden Fleece


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