The Sudden Death of Prince Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (1)

Unexpectedly on Tuesday 14 March the following announcement was made by the private secretary of Princess Benedikte of Denmark, Tommy M. Paulsen:

It is with great sorrow that I, on behalf of Her Royal Highness Princess Benedikte, announce that His Highness Prince Richard has passed away.

His Highness died suddenly at the castle in Berleburg yesterday evening, Monday 13 March.

Her Royal Highness Princess Benedikte travelled home to Berleburg on Tuesday morning after a short stay in Denmark.

Although he was 82, his death came rather suddenly. Richard-Casimir Karl August Robert Konstantin Prince zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg was born on 29 October 1934 in Giessen, Germany, as eldest child and son of Fürst Gustav Albrecht (1907-missing since 1944 in Russia) and Marguerite Fouché d’Otrante (1909-2005), from a Swedish ducal family, of French descend. He had one younger brother, Robin (* 1938), and three younger sisters, Madeleine (* 1936), Tatjana (* 1940) and Pia (* 1942).

I can’t recall having seen Prince Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg that often during the years I have been a royalty watcher and journalist. The first time I saw him was in Oslo in August 2001 when Crown Prince Haakon of Norway married Crown Princess Mette-Marit. Likely I also saw him at the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. And in June 2006 he attended the wedding of his nephew Prince Philip von Hessen. The last time I did see him was at a family wedding in Bad Berleburg in September 2007 I think.

He didn’t seem to enjoy these huge family gatherings very much, only when he had to. From what I heard and read he much more enjoyed the quiet life in Berleburg than the big city, he loved nature and had somewhat wicked humour. He didn’t seem to be interested in titles that much, and declined an offer to become a Danish Prince when marrying Princess Benedikte in 1968. I think he meant it when once saying in an interview it would have been a catastrophe had his wife become a Queen. Although his daughters Alexandra and Nathalie choose to become Danish citizens, his son Gustav – who will succeed him as head of the family – remains a German citizen only.

After Haakon and Mette-Marit were married and the guests left the Grand Hotel in Oslo Prince Richard, his wife, daughters and son-in-law were seen shaking hands and thanking the staff for their stay. They all stepped into the waiting shuttle bus when Prince Richard suddenly left the bus again, apparently seeing someone he had forgotten. He took all his time to shake hands again before finally getting in the bus again, where some rather impatient family members were already waiting to be driven to the airport.

Also at the family wedding he managed to escape the big crowds and took some guests for a personal tour through the castle of Berleburg. A nice gesture I think, which was much appreciated.

The funeral service will take place at the Evangelischen Stadtkirche in Bad Berleburg (see picture above).

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