German prince dies in riding accident

The successor to the House of Wettin, Prince Georg-Constantin of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, has died in a riding accident at the age of 41. His family is linked to many of Europe's royal houses.

Prince Georg-Constantin of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach died Saturday in a riding accident near Apethorpe Palace in Northamptonshire, England, his family said on Tuesday night. He was the designated successor of the German aristocratic House of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, which is the oldest branch of the House of Wettin. He was 41-years-old.

German magazine Bunte reported that police said the incident appeared to be a "tragic accident."

One of Germany's oldest documented noble families, the House of Wettin can be traced back over a thousand years. It split into two main branches in 1485, the Ernestine line and the Albertine line. It has connections to many of Europe's royal families, including current monarchs, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and King Philippe of Belgium, both from the Ernestine line.

Read more: Tracing Meghan Markle's 'German roots'

Hochzeit von Prinz Georg-Constantin von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach und Olivia Rachelle Page

Prince Georg-Constantin of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach married Olivia Rachelle Page in 2015

Prince Georg-Constantin was the nephew of the current head of the Ernestine line, Prince Michael of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach. According to the ancient Salian Frankish civil law code from around 500 A.D, Prince Michael's only daughter is excluded from the line of succession. The family's kingdom ceased to exist in 1918, although it still owns several castles and palaces.

Prince Georg-Constantin married British woman, Olivia Rachelle Page, in 2015 and lived in England. Prince Michael, now 71, said he was "deeply shocked" by his nephew's sudden death.

cl/sms (dpa, Bunte)


A terribly nice family

The concept of the "royal family" originated in the middle of the 19th century with Prince Albert, Queen Victoria and their nine children. Since then, not only is a queen or a king responsible for the British Empire, but a whole extended family. The Windsors have modernized and perfected this concept. Today, the Queen even accepts Camilla, the second wife of son Charles, into the family circle.


Monarchy in danger

George V (1865-1936, right) looked like his cousin Czar Nicholas II of Russia. But when the latter needed to abdicate after the 1917 Revolution, George V distanced himself and quickly withdrew the offer for political asylum for fear of unrest in his own kingdom. Nicholas II was assassinated shortly thereafter.


Stability in the face of war

As World War I continued, the reign of George V stabilized after the change of name to Windsor. While elsewhere monarchies crumbled, George V led his kingdom through an economic crisis, and granted numerous colonies independence within the Commonwealth.


The abdication

After George V's death in 1936, his son Edward VIII succeeded him on the throne. His reign lasted only 326 days - the shortest in British history. Edward's impending marriage to American Wallis Simpson caused both a scandal and a constitutional crisis. The conservative government eventually forced him to abdicate.


The crisis continues

Edward's younger brother Albert stepped into the breach, and in 1937 was crowned King George VI. With his wife Elizabeth and his two daughters Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, George VI had a strong family behind him. He led the country through World War II, but was burdened with poor health. In 1952, the king died of arterial thrombosis.


Retreating at Windsor Castle

During World War II, the royal family stayed in solidarity with the deprived general populace by living only on food rations, for example. George stayed in London despite the bomb attacks and the damage to Buckingham Palace. He spent the weekends with the family in Windsor.


'We want the king!'

With their commitment to the war effort, the royal family became a symbol of British resistance to fascism. After Germany's capitulation on May 8, 1945, a jubilant crowd gathered before Buckingham Palace and screamed "We want the King!" The royals were at the height of their popularity.


Royal wedding draws the masses

In 1947, people flocked to the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten. The king's daughter proved to be a godsend for the British crown. Since her coronation in 1952, she has stood for continuity. A largely scandal-free marriage and four children have ensured the continuation of the Windsors at a time when many other monarchies have dissolved.


The unhappy heir to the throne

The somewhat doomed marriage between Prince William and Lady Diana ended in 1992 amid an unsightly media spectacle that harmed the prestige of the royal family. Their two sons had to cope not only with the divorce in 1996, but also the sudden death of their mother in 1997. It would be a long time before Prince Charles was again a respected royal family member.


Queen Elizabeth celebrates

In 2016, Queen Elizabeth celebrated her 90th birthday (pictured), and in 2012, her diamond jubilee was celebrated. She has held the throne longer than any British monarch before her. Currently, she is the longest serving head of state in the world. Despite increasing criticism of the royal family from the media, the support of the monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II seems unbroken.


The dream royal couple

After his father's inglorious divorce and the tragic death of his mother, the private life of the queen's grandson William has drawn high media scrutiny. In Kate Middleton he has chosen a partner who can and wants to fulfill her role in the royal family - two young heirs included.


Charlotte and George: the next generation

The latest Windsor offspring have become media phenomena at a very young age. The "Prince George effect" describes Prince George's influence on business and pop culture - meaning whatever George wears sells. At the tender age of two, the prince has made GQ Magazine's list of the 50 Best Dressed Men in Britain.

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