German Royalty: Louis-Ferninand (1907-94)

Figure 1.--Here is Prince Louis-Ferninand, he looks about 3 years old. The photograph was probably taken in 1910.

Prince Louis Ferdinand was born on November 9, 1907, at the Marmor Palais in Potsdam. At his birth, very few would have thought that one day Louis-Ferdinand would become the head of the German imperial family. As a grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Louis-Ferdinand was placed third in the line of succession behind his father, Crown Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm, and his elder brother Prince Wilhelm, born in 1906. By the time his father died in 1951, Louis-Ferdinand's eldest brother had renounced his rights to the throne in 1933 to marry a commoner. Prince Wilhelm of Prussia died in battle during 1940. Prince Louis-Ferdinand of Prussia served as the head of his family for more than four decades, taking responsibility of family affairs for several decades.


Prince Louis-Ferdinand of Prussia was the son of Crown Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm and Duchess Cecilia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, daughter of Grand Duke Friedrich-Franz III and Grand Duchess Anastasia, née Grand Duchess Anastasia Michaelovna of Russia.

Childhood Clothing

We do not have a lot of information yet on Prince Louis Ferdinand's clothes as a boy. The images here show the Prince as a toddler wearing a soft white sailor cap and short pants. Another image shows him wearing a Russian blouse with a square collar. The available images show him with close cropped hair even when quite young.


Prince Louis-Ferdinand was educated in post-World War I Berlin, He was an artistically minded young man. He attended Berlin University in the 1920s, traveled widely, was a patron of songwriters and did some composing himself. In fact, one of his musical compositions was a funeral march to honor the memory of King Friedrich II of Prussia. He composed the march for the occasion of the return of the King's remains in 1991 to Potsdam. Friedrich II's remains had been moved to the Hohenzollern's family castle in Southern Germany during the World War II.

Young Prince

As a young prince, Louis-Ferdinand took full advantage of his position and heritage. The 1920's saw him traveling extensively around the world, particularly to the United States. Louis-Ferdinand settled in Detroit between 1929 and 1934, where he worked at a Ford automobile plant. Henry Ford, the automobile magnate, took him under his wing. President Franklin Roosevelt also took a liking to this enterprising young prince. Louis-Ferdinand was enthralled by machines, not only did he enjoy automobiles and airplanes, but he also had a passion for locomotives. Many considered that Louis-Ferdinand was "too American," and criticized the prince as excessively democratic for a Prussian prince. Being of an artistic nature, Louis-Ferdinand broke with tradition and avoided following a military career, a choice that surprised many members of his own family, and in sharp contrast to his older brother the Crown Prince. In several interviews Louis-Ferdinand extolled the virtues of bourgeois life in the United States and had it not been for his brother's decision to marry a commoner, it is quite possible that Louis-Ferdinand would have gladly settled in America. The last hope of the Hohenzollerns was happiest leading the life of a cultured bourgeois.

Heads the Hohenzollern Dynasty

His brother's renunciation in 1933, forced Louis-Ferdinand to give up his bachelor's existence in the United States. He was asked by his grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm II, to return to Germany and begin preparation for his future task as head of the Hohenzollern dynasty. As democratic as Louis-Ferdinand was, he also felt a deep respect for the tradition represented by his House. He was not very happy with his brother's decision, nor would he be with the actions of some of his own children in years to come. Upon his return to Germany, Louis-Ferdinand became involved in the aviation industry. He was serving as an instructor in the German Luftwaffe at the beginning of the war, but Hitler immediately barred him from any involvement in the country's war effort. The Nazi dictator aparently did not want the future head of the House of Hohenzollern gaining any support among the German people. It is most likely that Hitler's deep disdain for culture made the Nazi dictator an even more abhorrent figure in the eyes of Louis-Ferdinand. Be that as it may, the prince shunned the Nazis and even tried plotting against them.


Prince Louis-Ferdinand of Prussia in 1938 married the Grand Duchess Kira Kirilovna of Russia. Kira was the second daughter of Grand Duke Kiril Vladimirovich and Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna, née Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Kira's only brother, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirilovich was the pretender to the Russian imperial throne until his death in 1992. Louis-Ferdinand and Kira married according to the Orthodox rites on May 2, 1938 in Potsdam. Their Protestant ceremony was held 2 days later in the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm II at Haus Dorn, Holland. The ceremony at the Kaiser's exile residence was attended by a llarge number of dethroned European royalty. It was also attended by Crown Princess Juliana of The Netherlands and her husband, Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. Both Louis-Ferdinand and Kira were descendants of Queen Victoria. Louis-Ferdinand was a great-grandson of the Empress Friedrich III of Germany, née Princess Victoria of Great Britain, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Grand Duchess Kira was a granddaughter of Duke Alfred of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, third child of Victoria and Prince Albert. Another family connection was provided by the Romanovs. Louis-Ferdinand's mother, Duchess Cecilia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin who was a daughter of Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia, who in turn was a granddaughter of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Kira's parents, Grand Duke Kiril of Russia and Princess Victoria Melita, were first cousins and great-grandchildren of Tsar Nicholas I as well.


Louis-Ferdinand and Kira had seven children: four sons and three daughters. The Children were all born in Germany, during the difficult era of World War II and post-Wa era.
Fredrich Wilhelm (1939- ): The eldest child, Prince Friedrich Wilhelm was born in 1939. In 1967 he renounced his rights to marry a commoner, the shock of this action has been rumored to have caused Kira's death.
Michael (1940- ): The second son, Prince Michael, was born in 1940. He also renounced his rights to the succession to marry a commoner.
Maria-Cecilia (19??- ): The third child, married Duke Friedrich of Oldenburg in 1965. The couple divorced in 1989 and Friedrich remarried to Donata, the widow of Marie-Cecilia's brother, Prince Louis-Ferdinand.
Kira (19??- ): The fourth child was Princess Kira of Prussia, who also married a commoner.
Louis-Ferdinand (1944-77): Louis-Ferdinand's dynastic heir was his third son and namesake, Prince Louis-Ferdinand who was born in 1944. He married Countess Donata of Castell-Rudenhausen, a daughter of Siegfried, Fourth Prince of Castell-Rudenhausen, in 1975. The couple had two children, Prince Georg-Friedrich and Princess Cornelia-Cecilia. Prince Louis-Ferdinand II was a reserve officer, he died unexpectedly in 1977 during military maneuvers. In 1991, Donata remarried to Duke Friedrich of Oldenburg, her sister-in-law's ex-husband. Prince Georg-Friedrich became the head of the Prussian imperial family upon his grandfather's death in 1994.
Christian-Sigismund (1946- ): The sixth child of Louis-Ferdinand and Kira was Prince Christian-Sigismund, born in 1946. He was designated to act as tutor to his orphaned nephew Georg-Friedrich and also to serve as temporary head of the family if Louis-Ferdinand died while his grandson was a minor. Christian-Sigismund married a member of the minor German nobility, but since his father authorized the marriage both Christian-Sigismund and his son continue to hold their rights as members of the Hohenzollern family.
Xenia (1949- ): The seventh child of Louis-Ferdinand's was Princess Xenia who was born in 1949. Xenia also married a commoner, whom she divorced within 5 years of their wedding. She had always suffered from frail health and died as a result of a violent asthma attack in 1992.


During the early 1930's two of Kaiser Wilhelm II's sons joined the NAZI Party ( Oscar and August-Wilhelm ). Crown Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm, and two of his other sons, also joined the NAZI Party. The Hohenzollerns mistakenly hoped that Hitler would eventually restore the German empire. Many flocked to him in the hope of having their thrones reinstated. The NAZIs sought to attract as many royals as possible to their movement to gain respectability among the German people. In fact, Prince August-Wilhelm was unwise enough to proclaim that, "where a Hitler leads, a Hohenzollern can follow." Kaiser Wilhelm II himself from his exile in the Netherlands was skeptical of the Nazis and refused having to do anything with the NAZIs. He was outraged by his son August-Wilhelm's pronouncement. Once in power, Hitler basically forgot about the royals. He was disturned by the outpouring of sympathy when Prince Wilhelm was killed in France (1940). He eventually barred them from serving in the Third Reich's armed forces. Unlike many of his royal cousins, Louis-Ferdinand was deeply opposed to the NAZI regime. The Gestapo followed him constantly because he was under suspicion of plotting against Hitler. He had connections to the German officers who plotted an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Hitler (1944). As the war progressed, resistance to Hitler quietly organized. Some groups wanted to overthrow the NAZIs, end the war and restore the Hohenzollerns. The conspirators were found among all walks of life, from former reigning German sovereigns, to the nobility, to members of the Hitler cabinet, to common German people. Since Kaiser Wilhelm II died in 1941, the head of the Prussian imperial family was Crown Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm, but since he had flirted with the NAZIs in the 1930's, conspirators ignored him and centered on Louis-Ferdinand to serve as Hitler's successor. The conspirators came very close to killing Hitler with a bomb, but failed (July 1944). The man who planted the bomb, Colonel Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, was hunted down by the NAZIs, as were his collaborators. Repression of dissenting groups within Germany was intensified, and Prince Louis-Ferdinand was placed under virtual round the clock surveillance by the Gestapo. The last opportunity the Hohenzollern to regain the crown, however, was lost when Stauffenberg's attempt on Hitler failed.

Post-war Germany

At the end of the war, Louis-Ferdinand continued to live in his villa outside of Bremen. He also had property in Berlin where he usually spent time surrounded by artists and musicians. Because of his love of the arts, as well as his own nature, Louis-Ferdinand and Kira placed great emphasis on the education of their children. Kira's health continued to be a source of great worry to Louis-Ferdinand. At the end of the Summer of 1967, Kira traveled to Brittany to visit her brother Grand Duke VVladimir. It was while staying with her relatives that Princess Kira died of a heart attack during her sleep. She and Louis-Ferdinand had been married for 29 years. In contrast to Crown Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm and Crown Princess Cecilia, Louis-Ferdinand and Kira were an extremely happy couple. Her death was a great loss to her intellectual, artistic and conscientious Hohenzollern husband. Louis-Ferdinand retained many of the contacts that he had made in the United States. During the post-World War II period he served as the Ford Motor Company's representative in Europe. This highly visible corporate office also allowed Louis-Ferdinand to serve on the board of several large German corporations. Unlike some of his Hohenzollern relatives, particularly after the property losses caused by World War II, Louis-Ferdinand was able to rebuild his personal fortune.

Last Years

During the remaining years of his life, Prince Louis-Ferdinand remained in his villa. He continued his constant traveling and enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life. A visit he made to the Holy Land Louis-Ferdinand considered one of the most memorable trips he ever undertook. Always a German prince, he would attend royal occasions and family gatherings throughout Europe. He also spent a considerable amount of time restoring the image of the Hohenzollerns. In Particular, Louis-Ferdinand defended the actions of his grandfather and tried to excuse the Kaiser's role in the events leading to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. I'm not sure just what his arguments were. The tragic loss of his son Louis-Ferdinand II was a diffucilt family tragedy as was the death of his daughter Princess Xenia. The constant marital troubles of his children tortured the serene aging head of the House of Hohenzollern. One of Louis-Ferdinand's final satisfactions was witnessing the fall of the Berlin Wall and being able to see the reunification of Germany (November 1989). And once Germany was reunified, Louis-Ferdinand also arranged the transfer of several Hohenzollern coffins from the family's ancient castle in Southern Germany to the imperial vault in Potsdam. As Potsdam was in the DDR, this was not possible earlier. This was his final act for the House ofHohenzollern. Prince Louis-Ferdinand died on September 26, 1994 at the age of 86 years.


Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia. The Rebel Prince (Henry Regnery Co.: Chicago, 1952). These are the memoirs of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia. Has photos of the family in various attire. We have not yet found a copy, but a reader tells that it is a very imformative book.


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Created: June 6, 1998
Last updated: 5:30 PM 11/28/2005