Today the memorial service for Princess Irmingard of Bavaria takes place in the sumptuous Theatinerkirche in Munich, where generations of Wittelsbachs have been buried. Princess Irmingard, who died on 23 October aged 87, was the second child born of ex-Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria’s second marriage to Antonia of Luxembourg.
She was thus the granddaughter of the last King of Bavaria, Ludwig III, but was born (on 29 May 1923) five years after the 738-year-long reign of the Wittelsbachs in Bavaria had come to an end.
The Princess was sent to school in England in 1936, but in 1940 settled in Italy with her parents. Her father had decided to leave Germany because of his staunch opposition to Nazism, but Germany’s ally Italy was perhaps not the best choice of alternative abode.
When the Nazis failed in their search for ex-Crown Prince Rupprecht, who had gone into hiding, his daughter Irmingard was arrested in his stead in September 1944. With her mother she was eventually sent to the concentration camps Sachsenhausen, where her three sisters and eldest half-brother with his wife and children were already imprisoned.
With the Soviet army approaching the family was moved to the concentration camp Flossenbürg near Regensburg in February 1945 and from there to Dachau. They were eventually liberated by the Americans on 30 April 1945, the very day that Hitler committed suicide.
Although the family’s principal home in Munich, Palais Leuchtenberg, had been destroyed, ex-Crown Prince Rupprecht returned to his homeland, settling at Leutstetten Palace some 25 kilometres southwest of Munich. His wife, however, never again set foot in Germany and died from the after-effects of the Nazis’ treatment in 1954.
Following stays in Luxembourg and the USA Princess Irmingard eventually returned to Germany. On 22 July 1950 she married her first cousin Prince Ludwig of Bavaria at Nymphenburg Palace in Bavaria.
Following her father’ death in 1955 the couple settled at Leutstetten Palace. A son, Prince Luitpold, was born in 1951, while two daughters, Princesses Maria and Philippa, died on the days they were born in 1953 and 1954, respectively. Prince Ludwig died at the age of 95 in 2008.
As neither Duke Franz of Bavaria nor Duke Max Emanuel in Bavaria, the sons of Princess Irmingard’s elder half-brother Albrecht, has any sons the headship of the former royal house of Bavaria will eventually pass to the descendants of Princess Irmingard and Prince Ludwig.
Princess Irmingard was the author of a book of memoirs, Jugend-Erinnerungen, 1923-1950, which was published in 2000.