Prince Leopold of Bavaria (b. 1943)
Prince Leopold (Poldi) of Bavaria (German: Leopold Rupprecht Ludwig Ferdinand Adalbert Friedrich Maria et omnes sancti Prinz von Bayern) (born 21 June 1943) is a member of the Bavarian Royal House of Wittelsbach and a former champion race car driver. He descends from King Ludwig I of Bavaria in direct line and is a distant relative to the current head of the House of Wittelsbach, Franz, Duke of Bavaria and his brother, Maximilian, Duke in Bavaria. He also descends from King George II of Great Britain, and is therefore a distant cousin of Elizabeth II and is in line for the British throne.
Early life & racing career
Leopold (aka "Poldi") was born on Schloss Umkirch near Freiburg im Breisgau in Baden-Württemberg. He is the eldest son of Prince Konstantin of Bavaria and his first wife Princess Maria Adelgunde of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.
Since his parents separated soon after he was born, Leopold was raised by his grandparents Prince Friedrich von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Princess Margarete Karola of Saxony. He grew up on Schloss Umkirch together with his uncle Prince Ferfried (aka "Foffie") who is only two months his senior. It was there the Prince developed his love for cars and racing. He started his career with rallying and in 1969 moved to touring car racing winning the North American Championships with Porsche in 1972. In 1984 he also took part in the legendary sports car endurance race 24 Hours of Le Mans together with Walter Brun and Bob Akin, finishing fourth. In 1986, Leopold became a factory driver for the Munich based car manufacturer BMW and although he retired from competitive racing in 1998, he remains involved with the BMW racing team as an adviser.
As well as competing in Europe and America, Prince Leopold competed in Australia also with a drive the 1984 James Hardie 1000 driving a Group A BMW 635CSi for Frank Gardner's factory backed team partnering former Formula One world champion Denny Hulme. In Australian touring car racing Group A was only a minor class 1984 before taking over as top class in 1985. After a troubled week which included the Prince crashing the BMW at the top of the mountain due to a lost front wheel, the pair finished the race in 15th place and 2nd in class, 4 laps behind the class winning TWR Rover and 15 laps behind the race winning Holden Commodore.
Complete World Touring Car Championship results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
|1987||Schwaben Motorsport||BMW M3||MNZ
† Not registered for series & points
On 21 October 1977 Prince Leopold married Ursula (Uschi) Möhlenkamp, the daughter of Wilhelm (Willi) Möhlenkamp and Ingeborg Brauckmann. The civil ceremony took place at Berg on Lake Starnberg in Bavaria. The religious ceremony followed a month later, on 19 November 1977 in Aufkirchen, Bavaria. Initially the union was considered morganatic, but on 3 March 1999 the marriage was decreed to be conditionally dynastic in accordance with the Bavarian house laws. Since his son Manuel married dynastically, he is kept in line of succession. The couple have four children:
- Prince Manuel Maria Alexander Leopold Jörg of Bavaria (b. out of wedlock in 1972). Married Princess Anna of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (b. 1978) in 2005. They have three children:
- Prince Leopold Maria Bengt Karl Manuel of Bavaria (b. 2007)
- Princess Alva Manuelle Maria Petra Yvonne of Bavaria (b. 2010)
- Prince Gabriel of Bavaria (b. 2015)
- Princess Maria del Pilar Birgitta Adelgunde Charlotte of Bavaria (b. 1978)
- Princess Maria Felipa Karin Marion Gabriele of Bavaria (b. 1981), married Christian Alexander Dienst (b. 1978) in 2012. They have two sons:
- August Maria Jürgen Leopold Dienst (b. 2013)
- Ferdinand Maria Konstantin Joachim Dienst (b. 2014)
- Prince Konstantin Eugen Alexander Max-Emanuel Maria Ludwig Ferdinand Leopold of Bavaria (b. 1986)
The Prince resides in a villa on the Lake Starnberg south of the Bavarian capital, Munich and is often seen in the company of the current Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf whom he has known since his teens. He is a godfather of King Carl Gustaf's only son, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden. Prince Leopold is also involved with charitable causes helping disabled children, such as the Special Olympics and organizations promoting the use of animal-assisted therapy. This is in part, because his oldest daughter Princess Pilar has a form of autism, which she developed as a baby after she was given the wrong anesthetic during a heart surgery.
- Die Wittelsbacher. Geschichte unserer Familie. Adalbert, Prinz von Bayern. Prestel Verlag, München, 1979
- Prinz und Demokrat. Konstantin von Bayern: Ein Gedenkbuch. Konstantin, Prinz von Bayern and Arens, Hanns. München; Wien : Langen/Müller, 1970
- Ich habe einen Traum. DIE ZEIT, 18 September 2003. Nr.39
- http://www.angelfire.com/realm/gotha/news/2013_1.htm, "Royal News 2012"
- Ich habe einen Traum: Seine königliche Hoheit Prinz Leopold von Bayern gehört dem Adelsgeschlecht der Wittelsbacher an, das fast 800 Jahre lang regierte, bis 1918 die Monarchie abgeschafft wurde. Er träumt vom Fortleben seiner Seele als Geist | Nachr...