European Royalty

during World War II
by Glenn A. Steinberg

One may draw from the study of history the lesson that the age of princes is over. . . . For two hundred years we have been watching the decomposition of this system.  The princely houses have retained nothing but their pretensions.  With these they traffic, and by these they live. . . . If one day we had time to waste, it would be a curious study, that of these princely families, to see how they maintained themselves in power, despite their internal struggles.  Their wars always had the most exalted motives.  In reality, it was always a question of odd patches of land, whose possession was bitterly disputed.  How much Europe has had to suffer, for eight hundred years, from these practices – and, especially and above all, Germany!

– Adolf Hitler

Judging from personal experience I believe the revolution of November 9, 1918, was . . . a revolution of hunger, caused by the desperate desire of the people for peace at any price. . . . The great majority of the people had no particular grudge against the German dynasties.  If they had, they would not have restored to their former ruling houses so large a portion of their properties after a nationwide plebiscite. . . . If federalization is to be a constructive element in the future development of Europe and not merely a disguised method for keeping Germany as disunited as possible, the historical development of the country should not be overlooked and sacrificed to arbitrary measures conceived as a result of momentary emergencies and tendencies.

– Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia

 

BY THE TIME OF WORLD WAR II, was the age of princes over?  As my contribution to debate over that question, this site is intended to give an account of European royalty during the war.  In order to avoid the pitfalls of hindsight, the site includes only information current as of 1945.  My wish is to capture the personalities, circumstances, and genealogies of the royal houses of Europe during a particular moment in their history.  The moment that I have chosen is, in my opinion, an inherently interesting one.  The period of World War II was an extremely significant time for virtually every European royal house.  The reigns of King George VI of Great Britain and Ireland, King Leopold III of the Belgians, and King Gustaf V of Sweden are universally acknowledged as particularly salient in the histories of their respective countries' monarchies.  The war years were obviously significant in the history of the Balkan, Italian, and Hungarian monarchies -- since in the aftermath of the war all were toppled as a result of communist agitation (with the lone exception of Greece, where the monarchy only just barely survived the communist onslaught).  But the war years were also a time when several former monarchies almost made a comeback.  Interestingly, several anti-Nazi underground movements in Germany and Austria were predominantly monarchist in outlook.  The royal houses of Bavaria, Prussia, and Austria came very close to being restored to their thrones as alternatives to the Nazi regime.  Such restoration plans ought not to be dismissed lightly, especially in light of the contribution of the many reigning monarchs who provided an important psychological boost to the Allied war effort by their courageous example of resistance to Nazi Germany -- such as King Christian X of Denmark, King Petar II of Yugoslavia, King Haakon VII of Norway, and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.  Many scions of royal houses also contributed to the war effort for Allies or Axis by fighting, including a long list of German princes on the Axis side and Philip Mountbatten (né Prince of Greece and Denmark), Prince Gaetano of Bourbon-Sicily, Prince Michel of Bourbon-Parma, and the heirs of Napoleon Bonaparte and Prince Joachim Murat on the Allied side.  The role of Europe's royal houses in the history of World War II is therefore important and, at the same time, often underestimated -- as is the role of World War II in the history of Europe's royal houses.  At this site, I hope to explore this intersection of dynastic, military, and political history by purposefully freezing time in the crucial period between 1939 and 1945.

Royal Houses of Europe, 1939-1945
Ruling Houses
bullet Albania (Savoy)
bullet Albania (Zogu)
bullet Belgium (Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)
bullet Bulgaria (Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)
bullet Croatia (Savoy)
bullet Denmark (Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg)
bullet Great Britain and Ireland (Saxe-Coburg and Gotha/Windsor)
bullet Greece (Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg)
bullet Italy (Savoy)
bullet Liechtenstein
bullet Luxemburg (Nassau-Weilburg)
bullet Monaco (Grimaldi)
bullet Netherlands (Orange-Nassau)
bullet Norway (Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg)
bullet Romania (Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen)
bullet Sweden (Bernadotte)
bullet Yugoslavia (Karageorgevich)
Former Ruling Houses
bullet Albania (Wied)
bullet Anhalt (Anhalt-Dessau)
bullet Austria (Habsburg-Lorraine)
bullet Baden (Zähringen)
bullet Bavaria (Wittelsbach)
bulletBrunswick (Guelph)
bullet Bulgaria (Battenberg)
bullet Courland (Biron)
bullet Finland (Hesse-Cassel)
bullet France (Bourbon)
bullet France (Orleans)
bulletFrance (Bonaparte)
bullet Germany (Hohenzollern)
bulletHanover (Guelph)
bullet Hesse and the Rhine (Lorraine-Brabant)
bullet Hesse-Cassel (Lorraine-Brabant)
bullet Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (Hohenzollern)
bullet Hungary (Habsburg-Lorraine)
bullet Lippe (Lippe-Biesterfeld)
bulletLithuania (Urach)
bullet Mecklenburg-Schwerin (Mecklenburg)
bullet Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Mecklenburg)
bullet Montenegro (Petrovich-Niegosh)
bullet Oldenburg (Holstein-Gottorp)
bullet Parma (Bourbon)
bullet Portugal (Braganca)
bullet Prussia (Hohenzollern)
bullet Reuss zu Greiz
bullet Reuss zu Schleiz
bullet Reuss zu Köstritz
bullet Russia (Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov)
bullet Saxe-Altenburg (Wettin)
bullet Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Wettin)
bullet Saxe-Meiningen und Hildburghausen (Wettin)
bullet Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (Wettin)
bullet Saxony (Wettin)
bullet Schaumburg-Lippe (Lippe-Alverdissen)
bullet Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (Oldenburg)
bullet Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (Oldenburg)
bullet Schwarzburg (Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt)
bullet Spain (Alfonsist)
bullet Spain (Carlist)
bullet Tuscany (Habsburg-Lorraine)
bullet Two Sicilies (Bourbon)
bullet Ukraine (Hetmanate)
bullet United Baltic Duchy (Mecklenburg-Schwerin)
bullet Waldeck
bullet Württemberg

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Last updated on 01/13/09.