Wednesday, June 21, 2017

An interview with Prince Georg Friedrich

Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, head of the Imperial House of Prussia, and the great-grandchild of the last German Emperor, recently sat down with a reporter from the Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

"Prussia is not as evil as many think," said Prince Georg Friedrich. 

But unlike his ancestors, he has no political ambitions.  The interview took place at Hechingen, at Burg Hohenzollern, which Georg Friedrich owns jointly with the Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

If the monarchy still existed in Germany, Georg Friedrich would be the Kaiser.  He sees himself as the representative of the House of Hohenzollern, and is a devoted father to his four children, including a set of twin sons.

Prince Georg Friedrich was asked: "When did you last change diapers?"

"Two and a half hours ago."   "My wife and I share this duty. I like to  take care of the little ones when I am at home, and go shopping."  

Prince Georg Friedrich and his wife, Princess Sophie of Isenburg, are able to live with their children out of the public eye.

"We live in Fischerhude, a village near Bremen, where I grew up. This is extremely rural area with a view of the Wümmewiesen. I spend a lot of  my time working in Berlin,  where I also take care of the administrative matters of my house."

Georg Friedrich visits Burg Hohenzollern every two weeks.  

"The castle business has grown considerably over the past ten years. Sometimes I come with the whole family - like this time. We celebrated the baptism of our youngest son Heinrich.  However, the castle is not as comfortable and luxurious as many people think. The residential tract has more of a hostel character."

The interview takes place on a small terrace at the castle.  It is a lovely day, Kaiserwetter, and coffee is being served.  In the background, the black and white flag of Prussia is flying, a sign that the owner is home.   But the prince goes unrecognized in tourist center.

"Do you remember your childhood days at Hohenzollern?"  

Yes, I have many memories,  We had sword fights in the weapons chamber and threw snowballs on the shuttle bus in the winter. My mother has often come with us. I unfortunately lost my father early. He was a lieutenant of the reserve, was seriously wounded in a maneuver with an armor, and died shortly thereafter. I was a year old. I often miss him. All the more I am now looking forward to being there for my children as a father."

Georg Friedrich admits that running Burg Hohenzollern is a challenge. "The facility is neither a dusty museum nor a Prussian Disneyland. We have 300 000 visitors a year, some guests from America, Asia and many parts of Europe. We are one of the few private museums on this scale that manages to get out of itself."

"You are the administrator of a permanent construction site. There's always somewhere crumbling?"

"That's true. We will continue to rebuild  over the next ten years. This is going to happen this year. Since many hundred tons of material have to be moved, all in consultation with the memorial office. We first work on the foundation walls, then the driveway is to follow. If possible, we will rehabilitate the same stone as the castle was built in the second half of the 19th century: yellow Angulatensandstein. But that is rare. We have found it in the princely forest near Grosselfingen. Whether there is enough, we do not know."

The castle has been used in several movies and television programs, including the thriller, Cure for Wellness," and The Worst Witch, which was shown on German TV earlier this year.  

According to Prince Georg Friedrich, the castle became a Hogwarts-type residence for young witches.  He said he got to watch the shooting  

of "Cure for Wellness," which he found "exciting." 
Prince Georg Friedrich was also asked about the Prussian royal house's strict marriage laws.   Marriages must be of equal rank.  The two older brothers of Georg Friedrich's father married commoners and lost their dynastic rights.

Georg Friedrich said he never felt exposed to the pressure of an equal marriage, as he had known his wife, Sophie for 35 years.
 "Our paths crossed often. At home we have a picture our ourselves as ages two and three years, playing in the swimming pool.  I am happy that we found ourselves seven years ago in Berlin."

His great-grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm II, believed that a marriage between a prince and a commoner is as impossible as the connection between a swan and a goose."

"Are such house laws not antiquated?"

"We've recently had a family dinner, where we talked about how to update the family laws, as other families have done. The main goal is to keep the family together."

"How are you connected with the European nobility? "  

"The kinship to the British royal house is very limited  Queen Victoria is my fourfold great-grandmother.  She died in the arms of her favorite grandson, Emperor Wilhelm II. Since the two world wars the British royal house has stepped back with regard to its roots and family connections to Germany.  This is understandable.  I am delighted to meet the Prince of Wales at different festivities."

Georg Friedrich was asked his position as head of the house was a burden or a privilege."

"At the age of eighteen, after the death of my grandfather, I became chief of the House of Hohenzollern. At first it was not easy. I had to work on many things and often justify them. I was confronted with people thinking that I was waiting for the return of the monarchy. At the same time, I always had the inner impulse to prove to myself and to others that I can build something of my own. I have studied business management and worked as an employee for many years. But the tasks within the family have grown, especially the administration calls on me."

"Do not you sometimes dream of being an emperor, honestly?

"No, I definitely do not. My family has no political responsibility in the country and I do not want to take over any. We have remained a cultural responsibility. We receive Hohenzollern Castle as a national cultural monument. In Berlin and Brandenburg, as a family, we are the largest private lender for the great Prussian foundations."

"How does it feel to know your great grandfather was one of the instigators of the first World War?"  

;I am reluctant about the war debt. There are still new findings. What makes me more stressful is the theme of the Third Reich. "They've prostituted us as a family," my grandfather always said. The National Socialists have claimed that they were in the immediate succession of the Hohenzollerns and continued Prussianism. This was an integral part of their propaganda, which, unfortunately, continues to be felt to this day.

Some members in their family supported the National Socialists.
There were both, we have an open approach to the subject. My great-great uncle, Prince August Wilhelm, called Auwi, had been involved in the Nazi regime and gave speeches for the NSDAP. My grandfather, Louis Ferdinand, and his father, the Crown Prince William, maintained a close connection with the political resistance from the outset, with the clear goal of restoring the monarchy in Germany."

Georg Friedrich Ferdinand Prince of Prussia was born in 1976 in Bremen. He went to the Gymnasium in Bremen and Oldenburg. He passed his exams at Glenalmond College in Aberdeen, Scotland.

In September 1994, his grandfather, Prince Louis Ferdinand,  died, and he succeeded as head of the house of Prussia.  In Freiberg,  he studied business administration. The Prince has been married to Princess Sophie of Isenburg since 2011. They have four children: four-year-old twins Carl and Louis, two-year-old Emma and Heinrich, who was born last November.

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