Friday, February 23, 2018

Grand Duke Adolf Friedrich VI of Mecklenburg Schwerin (1882-1918)

One hundred years ago today, Grand Duke Adolf Friedrich VI of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, 35, committed suicide, for reasons that have never really been satisfactorily explained, though given what happened to all the German monarchies later that year, it may appear in retrospect to have constituted an escape from defeat and revolution. His death plunged the grand duchy into confusion as not only was he childless, his only brother having been killed in a duel, but his only surviving non-morganatic heir, Carl Michael, had served in the enemy Russian forces and wished to renounce his rights to Mecklenburg-Strelitz. With no one to be Grand Duke, the other Mecklenburg Grand Duke, Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, acted as regent. The succession issue was not resolved until after the fall of the German monarchies, with Carl Michael adopting his hitherto morganatic cousin the Count of Carlow. As the Mecklenburg-Schwerin line eventually died out, ironically today it is that Carlow line that serves as the sole representative of the Mecklenburg family.

Adolf Friedrich VI as a boy

There have been so many depressing centennials, especially for monarchists, since June 28, 2014, and it's far from over. I liked it better when we were less than a century removed from my beloved Belle Époque Europe (1871-1914). Think of how much time has elapsed since summer 2014, all the things you've done, and imagine how horrifyingly endless that war would have seemed by "now," in February 1918, a hundred years ago. How many boys born in the 90s, so much younger than I am, had died. Perhaps that's what got to poor Grand Duke Adolf Friedrich VI, who as a grandson of Queen Victoria's cousin Princess Augusta of Cambridge (1822-1916) deeply loved England, where he had spent a good deal of time before the war. In December 2016 I marked the centennial of Grand Duchess Augusta's death; today I remember her grandson. Adolf Friedrich had been close to his formidable grandmother. She was not spared the war between the two nations she loved, but at least she was spared her grandson's death and the fall of the monarchy.

Modern Mecklenburgers paying their respects at the grave of Adolf Friedrich VI on the centennial of his death, 23 February 2018

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