A spokeswoman for the former royal house of Prussia has announced that the historian Prince Friedrich Wilhelm died yesterday, following a lengthy illness. The eldest uncle of the head of the dynasty was 76 years old.
The eldest son of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia and his wife, née Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia, Louis Ferdinand Friedrich Wilhelm Hubertus Michael Kyrill Prinz von Preussen was born on 9 February 1939. At that time his great-grandfather, ex-Emperor Wilhelm II, was still living in exile in the Netherlands, but the headship of the royal house eventually passed to Friedrich Wilhelm's father. As the eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm was first in line to succeed to the headship, but he forfeited his rights when he made an unapproved marriage with the commoner Waltraut Freydag in 1967. As his next brother, Michael, who died last year, also lost his rights through marriage, the headship of the royal house passed to their nephew Prince Georg Friedrich, son of the third brother, who had been killed in an accident in 1977. The issue of inheritance caused a protracted legal battle.
Prince Friedrich Wilhelm studied at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and obtained a doctorate in history in 1971. He was however accused of having plagiarised a substantial part of his dissertation and was stripped of the doctorate in 1973. Eventually he obtained a new doctorate from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, this time on the topic of the Hohenzollern dynasty's relations to Nazism.
His first marriage was dissolved in 1971, and in 1976 he married Ehrengard von eden. That marraige was also dissolved in 2004, and later that year he married his third wife, Sibylle Kretschmer. He had one son from his first marriage and two sons and a daughter from the second.
For Prince Georg Friedrich, this is the second death in the family in little more than three weeks, following the death of his mother, Duchess Donata of Oldenburg, on 5 September.