Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse
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 Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich.
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), a great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. They had four children:
|His Grand Ducal Highness Prince Ludwig Ernst Andreas of Hesse||25 October 1931||16 November 1937||Killed in air accident|
|His Grand Ducal Highness Prince Alexander Georg Karl Heinrich of Hesse||14 April 1933||16 November 1937||Killed in air accident|
|Her Grand Ducal Highness Princess Johanna Marina Eleonore of Hesse||20 September 1936||14 June 1939||Died from meningitis.|
|Stillborn son||16 November 1937||16 November 1937||Stillborn in air accident.|
In October 1937, Georg Donatus' father, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse died. A few weeks after the funeral, Ernst Ludwig's younger son, 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 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.
Prince Louis' wedding had been scheduled for the 20th, but, following discussions with his future father-in-law Sir Auckland Geddes, was brought forward to the following day (17 November), as a small and quiet ceremony with the guests dressed in mourning.
Immediately afterward, 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 Rosenhohe, Darmstadt, Hesse a few days later. Attending were Prince Philip, 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. Johanna died of meningitis in 1939.
With the death of the childless Prince Louis in 1968, the male line of the Hesse and by Rhine became extinct.
- 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.
|Ancestors of Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse|
- Gilbert I, Count of the Maasgau, d. 842
- Gilbert II, Count of the Maasgau, 825–875
- Reginar, Duke of Lorraine, 850–915
- Reginar II, Count of Hainaut, 890–932
- Reginar III, Count of Hainaut, 920–973
- Lambert I, Count of Leuven, 950–1015
- Lambert II, Count of Leuven, d. 1054
- Henry II, Count of Leuven, 1020–1078
- Godfrey I, Count of Leuven, 1060–1139
- Godfrey II, Count of Leuven, 1187–1226
- Godfrey III, Count of Leuven, 1140–1190
- Henry I, Duke of Brabant, 1165–1235
- Henry II, Duke of Brabant, 1207–1248
- Henry I, Landgrave of Hesse, 1244–1308
- Otto I, Landgrave of Hesse, 1272–1328
- Louis the Junker of Hesse, 1305–1345
- Hermann II, Landgrave of Hesse, 1341–1413
- Louis I, Landgrave of Hesse, 1402–1458
- Louis II, Landgrave of Hesse, 1438–1471
- William II, Landgrave of Hesse, 1469–1509
- Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, 1504–1567
- George I, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1547–1596
- Louis V, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1577–1626
- George II, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1605–1661
- Louis VI, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1630–1678
- Ernest Louis, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1667–1739
- Louis VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1691–1768
- Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1719–1790
- Louis I, Grand Duke of Hesse, 1753–1830
- Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse, 1777–1848
- Prince Charles of Hesse and by Rhine, 1809–1877
- Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, 1868–1937
- Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse, 1906–1937
- Curse of Hesse - Time Magazine 29-11-1937. Searchers poking in the charred wreck of the plane stumbled on the remains of an infant, prematurely delivered when the plane crashed. Accessed 20-12-2009
- "Birth of Royal Infant seen as Cause of Crash". The Evening Independent. 23 November 1937. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
- "A Twelfth Victim.". Western Argus (Kalgoorlie, WA : 1916 - 1938) (Kalgoorlie, WA: National Library of Australia). 23 November 1937. p. 19. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of HesseBorn: 1906 Died: 1937
|Titles in pretence|
|— TITULAR —
Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine
Reason for succession failure:
Grand Dukedom abolished in 1918