• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

The blue-blooded Bavarian Duke

The Local · 25 Jul 2013, 16:00

Published: 25 Jul 2013 16:00 GMT+02:00

You might be forgiven for thinking Germany was not a home of royalty, but Duke Franz Herzog von Bayern is about as close as you can get. While German law doesn't recognise royal titles, they can form part of a surname – hence Herzog, German for Duke.

Born a prince of sorts, Franz is the elder brother of Prince Max of Bavaria and inherited the title of Duke as head of the Wittelsbach family - once rulers of the Kingdom of Bavaria - when his father died in 1996.

What is still hotly-contested in some quarters of Britain is whether the Duke's direct blood line connection to 17th-century Stuart monarch King James II of England means he has a legitimate claim to the British throne. Franz is James II's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson.

The Duke's branch of the royal family lost the throne after the Catholic James II was deposed by William of Orange in England's Glorious Revolution. James's elder son, also a Catholic, was passed over for the succession in favour of his daughters, Mary II and Queen Anne.

But Duke Franz, who celebrated his 80th birthday extravagantly this week, usually avoids the subject of the British royals altogether.

RELATED PHOTO GALLERY: Check out who turned up at Duke Franz's party

Although he adopts the formal address His Royal Highness, "he is very happy and satisfied with being the Duke of Bavaria," Baron Marcus Bechtolsheim, the president of the administration of the Duke of Bavaria told the British Telegraph newspaper back in 2008.

The octegenarian aristocrat was born in Munich in 1933 to Duke Albrecht of Bavaria and his wife the Croatian Countess Maria Draskovich as Franz Bonaventura Adalbert Maria Prinz von Bayern.

His parents disapproved of the Nazi regime and left Germany in 1939 for the relative safety of Hungary. They lived in Budapest until Hitler invaded in 1944 and had the family arrested - along with 11-year-old Franz, forcing them to spend the rest of the war in concentration camps - until they were liberated by US troops in 1945.

Story continues below…

After WW2, the Duke finished school and later went to read economics and business at Munich and Zurich Universities. He developed a life-long love of modern art and has an extensive collection. The aristocrat never married and lives alone in the large Nymphenburg palace.

Around 2,500 of Bavaria's richest, most powerful and influential guests on hand to pay tribute to the Duke at his birthday party at Schleißheim palace outside Munich on Monday, an event surpassed only in pomp by the royal birth taking place in Britain.

The Local/jlb

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Refugee influx leads to German cricket boom
With an influx of cricket-mad Pakistan and Afghanistan asylum seekers, the German Cricket Federation has been flooded with a simple question: "Where can I play?" Photo: Ally Middleton, via Flickr

Clubs springing up everywhere.

Why Germans get wholly wasted on Ascension Day
Young men in Schleswig-Holstein go for their annual chug and stroll on Ascension Day - which is also Father's Day. Photo: DPA.

In Germany, Himmelfahrt is not just about honouring Jesus' ascent into heaven - it's also Father's Day, and sees a tripling of alcohol-related accidents. The Local explains why.

Moving city is no excuse to quit the gym: court
Breaking out of a gym contract in Germany takes more than upper body strength. Photo: DPA

Nomadic fitness fanatics across Germany suffered a blow on Wednesday, after the country's top court ruled that moving to a different city is no grounds for breaking a contract with your gym.

Germany's six most beloved shopping streets
The Krügerpassage on Westenhellweg, Dortmund. Photo: Wikipedia

Where do Germans most love to spend their cash? The results of a new survey show the hottest shopping miles in the Bundesrepublik - and Berlin barely features.

‘Innovative’ Germans finally discover Victorian drying rack
The humble drying rack. Screenshot: Youtube

No one beats the Germans when it comes to invention and innovation - or so the cliché goes. But a Munich startup’s new project shows they’re not always first to the party.

Towns hire 'rubbish scouts' to keep summer BBQs tidy
Photo: DPA

Towns and cities across Germany are tooling up for the summer, with many hiring extra staff to pounce on people sullying parks with barbecue rubbish.

Video
Tourist terror as iconic Berlin balloon thrashed by winds
The Die Welt balloon swaying in the wind. Photo: DPA

Sightseers in the German capital feared for their lives on Tuesday afternoon when the "Die Welt" balloon swayed out of control in strong winds.

Erdogan poem affair
Merkel ‘filleted me and served me to Erdogan for tea’
Jan Böhmermann. Photo: DPA

The German comedian behind a “smear poem” which outraged Turkey and unleashed hot-tempered debate on freedom of speech across Europe has spoken for the first time since the affair - and he had sharp words for the Chancellor.

'Sharia police' members to face trial in Düsseldorf
Sven Lau. Photo: DPA

The 'Sharia police', a group that patrolled a western German town chastising people for not adhering to Islamic law, are to go on trial.

Germany set to legalise medicinal cannabis
Photo: DPA

Germany is to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes early next year, the health minister said on Tuesday.

Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
Culture
The 6 German words you need to know for spring
Sponsored Article
Becoming an expat: where to start
Culture
6 weird and wonderful ways Germans celebrate May 1st
Gallery
Feast your eyes on Germany in springtime bloom
Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
Politics
Merkel allows Erdogan case against German satirist to go ahead
Travel
7 of Germany's most jaw-dropping national parks
Hamburg
Gay penguins move to Hamburg to settle down
Business & Money
See-through €5 coin has collectors lining up
Health
Vegan hemp powder recalled over fear toddlers getting high
International
6 ways Mexico and Germany are secretly the best of friends
Munich
Drunk man falls onto tracks, 3 trains pass before anyone notices
Culture
The 7 most German things that happened at the 'German Grammys'
National
Could Germany ban diesel cars from city centres?
Travel
Eight things you never knew about the German Autobahn
Society
Police force naked driver to trek to brothel on foot
National
Bavarian town finally strips Hitler of honorary citizenship
Society
Brandenburg faces wrath of Flying Spaghetti Monster
International
German retiree 'fed to dog' by Russian wife in Mallorca
National
Ordinary Germans toast love online in face of Brussels bombings
National
Germany calls for "strength in unity" after Brussels bombings
7,819
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd