Maria Emanuel, Margrave of Meissen

Prince Maria Emanuel of Saxony, Duke of Saxony, Margrave of Meissen (31 January 1926 – 23 July 2012) was the head of the Royal House of Saxony.[2]

Maria Emanuel
Margrave of Meissen
Head of the Royal House of Saxony
Period9 August 1968 – 23 July 2012
PredecessorFriedrich Christian
SuccessorAlbert (disputed)
Alexander (disputed)
Born(1926-01-31)31 January 1926
Prüfening Abbey, Regensburg, Upper Palatinate, Bavaria, Weimar Republic
Died23 July 2012(2012-07-23) (aged 86)[1]
La Tour-de-Peilz, Rivera-Pays-d'-Enhaut District, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland
Burial30 July 2012
Royal Chapel in Königskapelle in Karrösten in North Tyrol
Princess Anastasia of Anhalt
(m. 1962)
Full name
Maria Emanuel
FatherFriedrich Christian, Margrave of Meissen
MotherPrincess Elisabeth Helene of Thurn and Taxis
ReligionRoman Catholicism


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.[3]

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,[4] 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-Assaf", descendants of a Lebanese Christian family which ruled a province north of Beirut).[5][6] 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,[7] Subsequently, his brother Albert stated that he no longer accepted the decision.[citation needed]

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.[8]



  1. ^ "Sächsische Zeitung [online] - Sachsen: Enkel des letzten sächsischen Königs ist tot". 19 June 2002. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  2. ^ Adam Bilinski. Have Poles pretender for their throne? (polish) [in:] Verbum Nobile. Nr 17. 2008. p. 8
  3. ^ Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh, Burke's Royal Families of the World, vol.1: Europe & Latin America, p.171
  4. ^ Marie Vassiltchikov. The Berlin Diaries 1940–1945, p. 71
  5. ^ de Badts de Cugnac, Chantal. Coutant de Saisseval, Guy. Le Petit Gotha. Nouvelle Imprimerie Laballery, Paris 2002, p. 127 (French) ISBN 2-9507974-3-1
  6. ^ Huberty, Michel; Alain Giraud; F. and B. Magdelaine (1991). L'Allemagne Dynastique Tome VI Bade-Mecklembourg (in French). France: Giraud. pp. 475–476. ISBN 978-2-901138-06-8.
  7. ^ Willis, Daniel (1999). The Descendants of Louis XIII. Baltimore, MD: Clearfield Co. pp. 327–328, 765–766. ISBN 0-8063-4942-5.
  8. ^ Joint Statement by the heads of the House of Wettin of 23 June 2015

External linksEdit

Maria Emanuel, Margrave of Meissen
Born: 31 January 1926
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Friedrich Christian
King of Saxony
9 August 1968 – 23 July 2012
Reason for succession failure:
Kingdom abolished in 1918
Succeeded by
Albert (disputed)
Succeeded by
Alexander (disputed)