From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Georg Donatus
Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine
Head of the House of Hesse-Darmstadt
Tenure9 October 1937 – 16 November 1937
Predecessor Grand Duke Ernest Louis I
Successor Prince Louis
Born(1906-11-08)8 November 1906
Darmstadt, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Empire
Died16 November 1937(1937-11-16) (aged 31) [1]
Ostend, Kingdom of Belgium
Burial23 November 1937
Rosenhöhe Park Cemetery, Rosenhöhe Park, Darmstadt
IssuePrince Ludwig
Prince Alexander
Princess Johanna
Unnamed son
German: Georg Donatus Wilhelm Nikolaus Eduard Heinrich Karl
English: George Donatus William Nicholas Edward Henry Charles
House Hesse-Darmstadt
Father Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine
Mother Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich

Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse (Georg Donatus Wilhelm Nikolaus Eduard Heinrich Karl, 8 November 1906 – 16 November 1937) was the first child of Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, and his second wife, Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich. He was a nephew of Empress Alexandra and Emperor Nicholas II of Russia.

Marriage and children

On 2 February 1931, at Darmstadt, Georg, a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, married his first cousin once removed, Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark, daughter of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg (and thus a sister of Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (later Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), a great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The couple had four children:

Name Birth Death Notes
Prince Ludwig Ernst Andreas of Hesse and by Rhine 25 October 1931 16 November 1937 Killed in air accident
Prince Alexander Georg Karl Heinrich of Hesse and by Rhine 14 April 1933 16 November 1937 Killed in air accident
Princess Johanna Marina Eleonore of Hesse and by Rhine 20 September 1936 14 June 1939 Died from meningitis. [2] [3] [4] [5]
Unnamed son 16 November 1937 Apparently born in or just before air accident. [6]

On 1 May 1937 Georg Donatus and Princess Cecilie both joined the Nazi Party. [7]


In October 1937, Georg Donatus' father, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse, died. A few weeks after the funeral, the new Grand Duke's younger brother, Prince Louis, was due to be married to the Hon. Margaret Geddes, daughter of Lord Geddes. On 16 November 1937, Georg Donatus, Cecilie, their two young sons, Georg's mother Grand Duchess Eleonore, the children's nurse, a family friend, a pilot and two crewmen, flew from Darmstadt bound for the United Kingdom, where Prince Louis was due to be married. The Junkers Ju-52 aeroplane hit a factory chimney near Ostend and crashed into flames, killing all those on board. Cecilie was heavily pregnant with her fourth child at the time of the crash, and the remains of the newborn baby were found in the wreckage, indicating that Cecilie had gone into labour during the flight; the Belgian inquiry into the crash suggested that the pilot was attempting to land in Ostend despite the poor weather conditions because of the birth. [8]


Prince Louis' wedding had been scheduled for the 20th but, following discussions with his future father-in-law Lord Geddes, was brought forward to the day following the accident (17 November), as a small and quiet ceremony with the guests dressed in mourning. [9]

Immediately afterwards, he set off with his new wife Margaret to Belgium to visit the crash site. The funeral and burial of Georg Donatus and his family took place at the Rosenhöhe, Darmstadt, Hesse, a few days later. Attending were Prince Philip, [10] Prince Christoph of Hesse, Gottfried, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Prince Philipp of Hesse, Berthold, Margrave of Baden, Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia and Lord Louis Mountbatten, among others. A photograph of the funeral procession, showing Prince Louis as chief mourner, shows crowds saluting the mourners with the Hitler salute. World War II began less than two years later.

The Hereditary Grand Duke and Duchess' fourteen-month-old daughter, Johanna, was the only one of the family who was not on board the aircraft. She was adopted by her uncle Prince Louis and aunt Princess Margaret in early 1938. [11] [2] Johanna died of meningitis in 1939. [2] [3] [4] [5]

With the death of the childless Prince Louis in 1968, the male line of the Hesse and by Rhine became extinct.

In popular culture

The crash figures in the plot of A Matter of Honour by Jeffrey Archer, in which Grand Duke Georg has in his possession the jewels of his aunt, the last Tsarina of Russia, which the KGB are looking for. There is no evidence in reality that this was the case.

He is depicted in the Netflix series The Crown portrayed by German actor August Wittgenstein. [12]


  • 8 November 1906 – 16 November 1937: His Royal Highness The Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine

Georg Donatus never acceded to the grand ducal throne as it had been abolished at the end of the First World War. Titles became surnames after that point, and it was rare for the head of a royal, grand ducal or ducal family to change his title upon accession as head of a house.


Patrilineal descent

  1. Gilbert I, Count of the Maasgau, d. 842
  2. Gilbert II, Count of the Maasgau, 825–875
  3. Reginar, Duke of Lorraine, 850–915
  4. Reginar II, Count of Hainaut, 890–932
  5. Reginar III, Count of Hainaut, 920–973
  6. Lambert I, Count of Leuven, 950–1015
  7. Lambert II, Count of Leuven, d. 1054
  8. Henry II, Count of Leuven, 1020–1078
  9. Godfrey I, Count of Leuven, 1060–1139
  10. Godfrey II, Count of Leuven, 1187–1226
  11. Godfrey III, Count of Leuven, 1140–1190
  12. Henry I, Duke of Brabant, 1165–1235
  13. Henry II, Duke of Brabant, 1207–1248
  14. Henry I, Landgrave of Hesse, 1244–1308
  15. Otto I, Landgrave of Hesse, 1272–1328
  16. Louis the Junker of Hesse, 1305–1345
  17. Hermann II, Landgrave of Hesse, 1341–1413
  18. Louis I, Landgrave of Hesse, 1402–1458
  19. Louis II, Landgrave of Hesse, 1438–1471
  20. William II, Landgrave of Hesse, 1469–1509
  21. Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, 1504–1567
  22. George I, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1547–1596
  23. Louis V, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1577–1626
  24. George II, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1605–1661
  25. Louis VI, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1630–1678
  26. Ernest Louis, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1667–1739
  27. Louis VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1691–1768
  28. Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1719–1790
  29. Louis I, Grand Duke of Hesse, 1753–1830
  30. Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse, 1777–1848
  31. Prince Charles of Hesse and by Rhine, 1809–1877
  32. Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse, 1837–1892
  33. Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, 1868–1937
  34. Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse, 1906–1937

See also


  1. ^ Archived 14 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 302.
  3. ^ a b Vickers 2000, p. 283-284.
  4. ^ a b Mitterrand 1999, p. 328.
  5. ^ a b Beéche & Miller 2020, p. 198.
  6. ^ "Curse of Hesse". Time 29 November 1937. "Searchers poking in the charred wreck of the plane stumbled on the remains of an infant, prematurely delivered when the plane crashed." Retrieved 20 December 2009
  7. ^ Jonathan Petropoulos, Royals and the Reich: The Princes von Hessen in Nazi Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 382.
  8. ^ "Birth of Royal Infant seen as Cause of Crash". The Evening Independent. 23 November 1937. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  9. ^ "A Twelfth Victim". Western Argus (Kalgoorlie, WA : 1916 - 1938). Kalgoorlie, WA: National Library of Australia. 23 November 1937. p. 19. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  10. ^ Brandreth 2004, p. 69; Vickers 2000, p. 273
  11. ^ Vickers 2000, p. 273.
  12. ^ "The Crown (2016– ): Paterfamilia". IMDb. 8 December 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2018.

Works cited

Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse
Cadet branch of the House of Hesse
Born: 8 November 1906 Died: 16 November 1937
German royalty
Preceded by Head of the House of Hesse-Darmstadt
9 October 1937 – 16 November 1937
Succeeded by
Titles in pretence
Preceded by — TITULAR —
Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine
9 October 1937 – 16 November 1937
Reason for succession failure:
Grand Dukedom abolished in 1918
Succeeded by