|A.K.A.||Marie Auguste Prinzessin von Anhalt, Princess Marie Auguste of Anhalt|
|Birth||June 10, 1898 (Ballenstedt)|
|Death||May 22, 1983 (Essen)|
Princess Marie Auguste of Anhalt (10 June 1898 – 22 May 1983) was the daughter of Eduard, Duke of Anhalt, and his wife, Princess Louise Charlotte of Saxe-Altenburg. She married and divorced a son of Kaiser Wilhelm II, then married and divorced a commoner, and supported a luxurious lifestyle in later life by accepting money from as many as 35 men to "adopt" them and make them eligible to call themselves "Princes."
Early life and family
On 10 June 1898, Marie-Auguste was born in Ballenstedt, Anhalt, Germany, to the then Prince Eduard of Anhalt and his wife Princess Louise of Saxe-Altenburg. Her father would not succeed his brother Frederick II until 1918, the year he also died. Her paternal grandparents were Frederick I, Duke of Anhalt and Princess Antoinette of Saxe-Altenburg. Her maternal grandparents were Prince Moritz of Saxe-Altenburg and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Meiningen.
Marie-Auguste was raised in Dessau, the capital of the duchy of Anhalt. She had five siblings, but her elder sister Friederike and brother Leopold died while infants. Marie-Auguste was an elder sister of Joachim Ernst, Duke of Anhalt.
First marriage and divorce
On 11 March 1916 in Berlin, Marie-Auguste married Prince Joachim of Prussia, the youngest son of German Emperor Wilhelm II. She and Joachim, who was Wilhelm's last unmarried child, had been officially engaged since 14 October of the previous year. The wedding was celebrated at Bellevue Palace, and was attended by Joachim's father and mother Empress Augusta Viktoria, the Duke and Duchess of Anhalt, as well as other relatives. They had a simple Lutheran ceremony.
The couple had one son, Prince Karl Franz Josef Wilhelm Friedrich Eduard Paul (15 December 1916 in Potsdam – 22 January 1975 in Arica, Chile). Their grandson, Prince Franz Wilhelm, married Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, a pretender to the Imperial Russian throne.
The couple were divorced soon after the end of WWI. The direct causes of the divorce are not really known to the public, only that there had been no previous report of marital troubles before the divorce was announced. According to another report, Marie-Auguste had previously abandoned her husband and child to run away with another man, had been forcibly brought back home on the orders of the Kaiser, and had filed for divorce as soon as the war ended, when she saw that her husband's family were at their lowest ebb. Regardless of the reasons, this event was one of the main reasons why Prince Joachim committed suicide only weeks after the divorce was finalized.
In July 1920, very shortly after the divorce happened, Joachim shot himself on 18 July 1920 in Potsdam. One source reports that he had been in financial straits and suffered from "great mental depression". His own brother Prince Eitel Friedrich of Prussia commented that he suffered from "a fit of excessive dementia".
After Joachim's suicide, Marie-Auguste's son Karl Franz was taken into the custody of his paternal uncle Prince Eitel Friedrich. As the acting head of the House of Hohenzollern, he claimed this right, due to the fact that the Emperor Wilhelm had issued an edict placing Hohenzollern powers in Eitel's hands. This action was later declared to have been unlawful, and in 1921, Marie-Auguste was given full custody of her son, despite that fact that she had previously run away from her husband and despite numerous servants having testified against her, with Eitel's counsel arguing that Marie-Auguste was unfit to have custody of Karl Franz. However, she appeared in court and pleaded that she was heartbroken, which may have helped to win the case for her. In 1922, Marie-Auguste sued her former father-in-law for the financial support that had been promised in the marriage contract between her and Prince Joachim. Wilhelm's advocate argued that the laws of the House of Hohenzollern were no longer in force, so there was no longer a financial obligation to support her.
Second marriage and divorce
On 27 September 1926, she married Johannes-Michael Freiherr von Loën, a childhood friend. They were divorced in 1935, and Marie-Auguste reverted to her maiden name.
Marie Auguste was in financial straits in the final years of her life. As a result, she adopted approximately 35 adults, accepting money in return for a claim to her royal name and style. In 1980, the Princess adopted the entrepreneur Hans Robert Lichtenberg, who took the name of Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt. This has led to confusion in media reports about his being a member of a European royal family, which he is not. The family of Princess Marie Auguste has never recognized Lichtenberg as part of their lineage. Women could not convey titles to their children, born or adopted, unless allowed under a special grant from the sovereign. Therefore, "Prinz von Anhalt" is merely a surname, as are all other titles used by Lichtenberg, known as Anhalt. In 1986, he married the actress Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Princess Marie Auguste died on 22 May 1983 at Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany.