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Prince Francis Joseph
Born(1861-09-24)24 September 1861
Padua, Austrian Empire
Died31 July 1924(1924-07-31) (aged 62)
Territet (near Montreux), Switzerland
( m. 1897)
House Battenberg
Father Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine
Mother Julia, Princess of Battenberg

Prince Francis Joseph of Battenberg GCVO, KCB ( German: Franz Joseph; 24 September 1861 – 31 July 1924) was the fourth and youngest son and child of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine and his morganatic wife Julia, Princess of Battenberg.


At one time, he was considered for the throne of Bulgaria, which eventually went to his brother Alexander; [1] nonetheless, as Alexander was unmarried and without legitimate heirs at the time, Francis Joseph was considered heir presumptive to the throne. He followed his brother to Bulgaria, where he served as a colonel in the Bulgarian cavalry, seeing action during the Serbo-Bulgarian War. [2] During the coup of 1886, he was arrested and expelled from Bulgaria, along with his brother.

From an early age Francis Joseph showed great interest in science, and unlike his brothers – who pursued careers in the military – he pursued a career in academics; in 1891 he published an academic study on Bulgarian economic history, which he dedicated to his brother. [3]

At a family reunion in London in 1894 Franz Joseph met Consuelo Vanderbilt, the daughter of an extremely wealthy American railway tycoon William Kissam Vanderbilt. He made a marriage proposal to Consuelo, but she disliked him and turned him down. [1] [4]

In 1897 he married Princess Ana Petrović-Njegoš of Montenegro (1874–1971), the sixth daughter of King Nicholas I of Montenegro; they had no children. He served as a colonel in the Montenegrin Army during the Balkan Wars. [5]

They lived in Prinz Emil Palais, but upon the outbreak of World War I, he and his wife moved to Switzerland, where he lived until his death in 1924. He was a close friend of his brother-in-law King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, whom he visited often; their wives were sisters.


He received the following orders and decorations: [5]



  1. ^ a b Stuart, Amanda Mackenzie, Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and Mother in the Gilded Age, Harper Perennial, 2005, p. 101
  2. ^ "Royal Wedding At Cettinje; Francis Joseph of Battenberg United to Princess Anna of Montenegro" (PDF), The New York Times, Cettinje, 19 May 1897
  3. ^ von Battenberg, Franz Joseph (1891). Die volkswirthschaftliche Entwicklung Bulgariens von 1879 bis zur Gegenwart. Leipzig: Veit.
  4. ^ Stasz, Clarice (1999). The Vanderbilt Women: Dynasty of Wealth, Glamour, and Tragedy. Lincoln, NE: toExcel Press. p. 118. ISBN  1-58348-727-1. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  5. ^ a b Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Hessen (1912/13), Genealogy p. 3
  6. ^ Großherzoglich Hessische Ordensliste (in German), Darmstadt: Staatsverlag, 1914, pp. 4, 21, 195
  7. ^ Italy. Ministero dell'interno (1920). Calendario generale del regno d'Italia. p.  57.
  8. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Hessen (1894), Genealogy p. 5
  9. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 294
  10. ^ Shaw, p. 423

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