Six European Princes Who Gave Up Royal Titles and Succession Rights In the Name of Love

When it comes to royals who took an ultimate sacrifice in the name of love, the person who would easily come to mind is King Edward VIII.

After all he was voluntarily abdicated the British throne to marry his non-aristocratic commoner lover, Wallis Simpson.

But there are other European princes who did the same in the name of love and marriage. And mostly, Edward's relatives.

Let's not count Prince Harry because he did not lose his princely title, he only lost the HRH style but not his position in the line of succession, he remained sixth behind Prince Louis of Cambridge.

Here is the list of the real ones. They gave up their style and succession rights in order to marry the one they loved.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh

Unlike other princes, even king, who gave up royal title because of marrying a commoner, Prince Philip did not relinquish his royal style due to social class boundaries, but in order to marry the future Queen of the United Kingdom.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh

We all know Prince Philip as Queen's husband. But he is a prince of the blood royal and the last European royal to marry into the British royal family.

Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, he is the grandson of King George I of Greece and great-great grandson of Queen Victoria, King Christian IX of Denmark and Emperor Nicholas I of Russia.

He was sixth in line of succession to the Greek throne in 1947. He needed to give up his royal title and succession rights because the Greek royal court prohibited their possible successors to marry a foreign ruler.

That time the Greek monarch was his first cousin, King George II, who was childless.

Another reason of giving up his royal title was because the British public had reservation over foreign princes especially those who have ties with German royalty.

Prince Philip's four sisters married German princes. And two of his brothers-in-law were Hitler's sympathizers. It was after World War II and the memory of Hitler's atrocities were still fresh.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh

In February 1947, several months before the announcement of engagement made public, he gave up his princely title and adopted his maternal grandfather's name - Mountbatten - which was created in 1917 to cut ties from their German heritage.

Thus, Philip became Philip Mountbatten. However, in 1957, the Queen gave him back his princely identity by making him Prince of the United Kingdom.

Count Christian of Rosenborg

Born Prince Christian of Denmark in 1942, he was the second son of Prince Knud, Hereditary Prince of Denmark. He had two siblings, Prince Ingolf and Princess Elizabeth.

Count Christian of Rosenborg and Anne, Countess of Rosenborg

At the time of his birth, he was 3rd in line of succession to the Danish throne. His father was the younger brother of King Frederick IX of Denmark and was heir presumptive. 

Danish succession law prohibited a woman from succeeding the throne until 1953 when it was changed to male-preference primogeniture.

Upon the change of the Danish succession law, Prince Knud lost his status as heir-presumptive and was given to Prince Frederick IX's eldest daughter, now Queen Margrethe II.

However, in 1971, Prince Christian married a non-aristocratic commoner, Anne Dorte Maltoft-Nielsen. 

Under Danish royal custom, spouses of Danish royals must be of royal or noble blood to retain their places in the line of succession, thus, Prince Christian was forced to renounce his rights to the throne to marry Anne.

He was also forced to give up his inheritance and princely title. He was created Count of Rosenborg with a style of His Excellency. 

They had three daughters together and all titled Countess of Rosenborg from birth, but they too would lose this title upon marriage to commoners.

Prince Knud talked to his king brother to spare his second son from stripping the title because it was done already to his eldest son in 1968 but King Frederick IX would not approve because the bride is not a member of aristocracy.

A bit ironic since Queen Margrethe II's sons all married non-aristocratic commoners but retain their princely title and inheritance and even succession rights.

Count Christian died in 2013 and his wife died in 2014.

Count Ingolf of Rosenborg

Born Prince Ingolf of Denmark in 1940, he is the eldest son of Prince Knud of Denmark and older brother of Count Christian of Rosenborg.

Count Ingolf of Rosenborg and Countess Sussie of Rosenborg

At the time of his birth, he was most likely to become King of Denmark. His father was the Hereditary Prince and heir-presumptive of King Frederick IX. 

However, in 1953, the Danish law of succession was altered to allow females to inherit the throne, thus, his first cousin, now Queen Margrethe II, became the heir -presumptive.

In 1968, Prince Ingolf did not seek consent of his uncle for marriage in the Council of State. He was aware that it would never be granted because he would be marrying a non-aristocratic commoner, Inge Terney. 

His wife died in 1996, he remarried to another commoner in 1998, Sussie Hjorhoy. He has no children in both marriages.

Count Ingolf however performed some official engagement and unlike his brother, did receive an annual allowance from the Danish royal court.

Sigvard Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg

Born Prince Sigvard of Sweden, he was the second son of the future King Gustaf Adolf VI of Sweden and Princess Margarita of Connaught, granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Britain. He was also granted the title Duke of Uppland.

Sigvard of Sweden

In 1934, he lost his princely title and succession rights when he married a non-aristocratic commoner, Erika Maria Patzek. 

His marriage was a violation to the royal provisions containing in the 1809 Instrument of Government and the 1810 Act of Succession where Swedish royals must marry within dynastic royal houses.

Following his marriage, he was addressed simply as Mr. Sigvard Bernadotte. 

It was only in 1951 that he was granted the noble title Count of Wisborg by Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, a title that was not officially recognized in Sweden.

He and his cousin, Count Lennart Bernadotte of Wisborg who also lost his princely title due to morganatic marriage, complained of cruel treatment from the Swedish royal court.

He would fight for the remainder of his life to regain his princely status but was never granted by his nephew, King Carl XVI Gustav.

Prince Sigvard with his nepjhew, King Carl XVI of Sweden

Arguing that his nephew, King Carl XVI Gustav also married a commoner without losing his succession rights and even succeeded to the throne in 1973, he declared in 1983 that he will be called Prince Sigvar Bernadotte.

He went to the European Court of Human Rights to press his demand against the Swedish government to acknowledge his princely title. It was never granted until he died in 2002.

He married three times and had one son from his second marriage.

Prince Sigvar Bernadotte was a successful industrial designer by profession. Among his works are the Red Clara Opener, EKA Swede 38 folding knife, Margrethe bowl, the Bernadotte jug and the Facit Private Typewriter. 

Swede 38 folding knife, an innovation by Prince Sigvard Bernadotte

Towards the end of his life, he was recognized as the oldest living great-grandchild of Queen Victoria and was surpassed by his younger brother, Carl Johan, in 2011. 

Today, that distinction belongs to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, their third cousin.

Carl Johan Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg

Born Prince Carl Johan of Sweden in 1916, he was the youngest child of King Gustaf Adolf VI of Sweden and Princess Margarita of Connaught, granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Britain. 

Carl Johan and his second wife, Countess Gunnila

He was the paternal uncle of King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden and maternal uncle of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. 

Through Queen Victoria, he was third cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, King Harald V of Norway, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain.

Like his older brother, Sigvard, he too would lose his princely title and succession rights due to a morganatic marriage.

In 1946, he married a non-aristocratic commoner, Elin Kerstin MargarethaWijkmark, a Swedish journalist. 

As his marriage could not be approved by the British royal court and government due to the status of the bride, he renounced his princely title, his succession rights and inheritance, and his awards and honors were revoked.

They did not have offspring but had two adopted children. The couple lived for a time in New York City where Carl Johan worked in a trading company.

In 1951, Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg made him a nobleman, awarding the title Count of Wisborg and Prince Bernadotte.

In 1987, his wife died, he remarried on the following year to a Swedish countess by birth, Gunnila Martha Louise. Nonetheless, this marriage to a member of the aristocracy did not change the position of his nephew to reinstate his princely title.

Royal brothers, Sigvard and Carl Johan

For the remainder of his life, the Count of Wisborg fought to regain his princely status and inheritance, arguing that his nephew, Carl XVI Gustav, also married a commoner and still ascended as king.

It was not granted and Carl Johan died in 2012.

Succession Rights in Britain

Despite these renunciation of princely titles, these five princes retained their places and their offspring in the line of succession to the British throne as direct descendants of King George II.

Lennart Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg

He was born Prince Lennart of Sweden at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, an only child of  Prince Wilhelm of Sweden and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia. 

Lennart Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg

His mother was the granddaughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia, paternal first cousin of Nicholas II of Russia and maternal first cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. While his father was the son of King Gustav V of Sweden. 

Through his mother, he was second cousin to Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Queen Sofia of Spain.

In 1932, he married a non-aristocratic commoner, which led to the stripping of his royal title and succession rights to the Swedish throne. He was told to use Mr. Lennart Bernadotte.

Lennart Bernadotte and his second wife, Sonja

As marriages between royals and commoners were rare at that time, Lennart was subjected to cruel treatment in Sweden. His wife developed a mental disorder as a result, which led to their divorce in 1971.

In 1951, together with other Swedish princes who married commoners, he was given the noble title Count of Wisborg by Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg.

He remarried in 1972 to Sonja Haunz. They have five children together. They moved to Germany and bought an estate in the island of Mainau in Lake Constance where he developed an interest in gardening and landscaping. 

The Mainau gardens, estate of Count Lennart Bernadotte of Wisborg

He turned his estate into a beautiful tourist attraction on Lake Constance featuring elaborate floral gardens, a butterfly house and attractive views of the lake. 

In 1951 he launched the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings aimed to promote scientific researches, culture and discipline. It has evolved into an annual meeting of Nobel Laureates. 

Count Lennart drew inspiration from the Nobel Prize awards organized in Sweden. In the official website of Lindau, an obituary can be read:

"Count Bernadotte launched the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings more than 50 years ago and as spiritus rector remained to the end committed to this great cause. 

Drawing inspiration from his grandfather, King Gustaf V of Sweden, who presented the first Nobel Prizes, Count Bernadotte chaired the Council for Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings for 38 years, before serving as Honorary President.

A true visionary and the soul of the Lindau Meetings over decades, in his dedication to public service and to the advancement of science and human knowledge Count Bernadotte embodied the best in Europe. 

A mentor to generations of young scientists form around the world, Count Bernadotte was a man of exceptional qualities with his pioneering spirit, and he lived for what he believed in. 

His impact on the Lindau Meetings has set lasting standards, and his counsel, his drive and his energy will be missed solemnly by us all".

Count Lennart died in 2004 at Mainau Castle. He left behind his second.wife amd nine children from his two marriages.

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