Hohenzollern Castle, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
Louis Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia (German: Louis Ferdinand Victor Eduard Adalbert Michael Hubertus Prinz von Preußen; 9 November 1907 – 26 September 1994) was a member of the princely House of Hohenzollern, the abolished German throne. He was also noteworthy as a businessman and patron of the arts.
There were persistent rumours that George, Duke of Kent had a 19-year affair with the actor and composer Noël Coward. The British security services supposedly reported that Coward and George were seen parading the streets in London in drag and had once been arrested by police for suspected prostitution. Love letters from George to Coward were believed to have been stolen from Coward’s house in 1942, and another clutch of letters had to be bought back from a male prostitute in Paris who was blackmailing him. Additional gossip suggested that George dallied with his distant cousin Prince of Prussia Louis Ferdinand and with art historian and, later, Soviet spy Anthony Blunt.
Lenwood Morris was a dancer with the Katherine Dunham Company. Always smartly dressed, with panache, he was especially dapper in a bright yellow suit. He was informative, funny, and warm and handled serious matters with a light touch; he would openly joke with Dunham about his status as a "queen". She recalled that he had been a favorite of the German kaiser's son, Louis Ferdinand, who presented him with a ring formerly belonging to the kaiser. Openly gay at a time when the lifestyle often led to ridicule, he responded to rudeness and bigotry with grace.
Louis Ferdinand was born in Potsdam as the third in succession to the throne of the German Empire, after his father, German Crown Prince William and elder brother Prince Wilhelm of Prussia. The monarchy was abolished after Germany's revolution in 1918. When Louis Ferdinand's older brother Prince Wilhelm renounced his succession rights to marry a member of the untitled nobility in 1933 (he was later to be killed in action in France in 1940 while fighting in the German army), Louis Ferdinand replaced him as second in the line of succession to the defunct German throne after the Crown Prince. Louis Ferdinand was educated in Berlin and deviated from his family's tradition by not pursuing a military career. Instead, he travelled extensively and settled for some time in Detroit, where he befriended Henry Ford and became acquainted with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, among others. He held a great interest in engineering. Recalled from the United States upon his brother's renunciation of the throne, he got involved in the German aviation industry, but was barred by Hitler from taking any active part in German military activities. Louis Ferdinand dissociated himself from the Nazis after this. He was not involved in the 20 July Plot against Hitler in 1944 but was interrogated by the Gestapo immediately afterwards. He was released shortly afterwards.
He married his second cousin once removed, Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia, in 1938 in first a Russian Orthodox ceremony in Potsdam and then a Lutheran ceremony in Huis Doorn, Netherlands. Kira was the second daughter of Grand Duke Kyril Vladimirovich and Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The couple had four sons and three daughters. His two eldest sons both renounced their succession rights in order to marry commoners. His third son and heir apparent, Prince Louis Ferdinand, died in 1977 during military maneuvers, and thus his one-year-old grandson Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia (son of Prince Louis Ferdinand) became the new heir apparent to the Prussian and German Imperial throne. Upon Louis Ferdinand's death in 1994, Georg Friedrich became the pretender to the thrones and head of the Hohenzollern family.
After the reunification of Germany, Louis Ferdinand arranged to have the remains of several Hohenzollern members reinterred at the imperial vault in Potsdam. The prince was popular. In 1968 Der Spiegel reported that in a survey of their readers by Quick magazine about who would be the most honorable person to become President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Louis Ferdinand, the only one of twelve candidates who was not a politician, won with 39.8% before Carlo Schmid and Ludwig Erhard. In a similar survey by the tabloid Bild, readers chose Louis Ferdinand by 55.6%. In an interview with Quick, the prince indicated that he might accept the presidency but would not relinquish his claim to the crown of emperor of Germany. Prince Ferdinand of Hohenzollern, a member of the senior Swabian branch of the Hohenzollern dynasty, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, is his godson.
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