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A (German) Royal Wedding

September 2, 2011

Although talk of April’s British Royal Wedding has—for the most part—reached a lull, fans of Wills and Kate need not despair.

On Saturday, August 27, 2011, Germany celebrated its very own royal wedding. The Prince of Prussia, Georg Friedrich Ferdinand, 35, married Hessian princess Sophie Johanna Maria of Isenburg, 33. The marriage was held at Sanssouci, Frederick the Great’s celebrated rococo-style palace in Potsdam, just outside of Berlin. Georg is the great-great grandson of Wilhelm II of the House of Hohenzollern, and the wedding marked the 950th anniversary of the House of Hohenzollern.

Wilhelm II, Germany’s last Kaiser, ruled Germany from 1888 to the end of World War I, when Germany agreed to an armistice, forcing the Kaiser to abdicate in November 1918. He fled to The Netherlands, where he lived until his death in 1941. His great-great grandson served in Germany’s military for two years, and currently works in the private sector. His now wife, Sophie, works as a consultant for NGOs.

The Royal nuptials drew millions of German viewers. Photo: AP

Avid royal-watchers and Europhiles may not have known Germany even had a royal family, let alone a “Prince of Prussia” (likely a holdover from the tradition of calling the emperor’s first son “the Crown Prince of Prussia”). Those people would be partly correct in thinking Germany had long ago done away with all vestiges of the German Empire. As Germany is a Federal Republic, the prince and his wife are not official nobility. Nonetheless, if the German monarchy did still exist, Georg and Sophie would be Germany’s version of Will and Kate.

And while the couple has no political or even traditional power, royal tradition certainly rules. Had Georg decided to wed a commoner, as Prince William did, he would have had to give up his title as Prince of Prussia. However, by marring Princess Sophie, the Hohenzollern line continues.

The wedding drew nearly 400 German and international guests, among them members of other European royal houses, and was broadcast live on German television. Despite a common perception that Germans are a no-nonsense crowd, they too enjoy a little royal frivolity now and then.

The bride wore a gown by German designer Wolfgang Joop, and the couple rode an appropriately royal horse and carriage from the ceremony at Church of Peace to Sanssouci, where they dined and danced with wedding guests.

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