Succession in the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz is hereditary in the male line by
right of primogeniture, to the complete exclusion of women even in the event of the
total extinction of the male line. Because the same succession rules apply to the
House of Mecklenburg-Schwerin with the death Hereditary Grand Duke Friedrich Franz
in 2001 the senior branch of the House of Mecklenburg has became extinct in the male
line, leaving Mecklenburg-Strelitz as the only surviving branch.
The current order of succession to the headship of the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
is as follows:
1. His Highness The Hereditary Prince
2. His Highness Duke Michael
During the monarchy a number of treaties were concluded making provisions for the
succession in the event of the extinction of one branch, or the entire House of Mecklenburg.
Treaty of Hamburg
The 1701 Treaty of Hamburg, which created Mecklenburg-Strelitz, established the order
of primogeniture within the House of Mecklenburg whereby on the extinction of one
branch, the surviving branch of the family would succeed. As a result since 2001
the head of the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz is in effect head of the entire House
Although extinct in the male line since 2001 the House of Mecklenburg-Schwerin still
has three living female members, Duchess Donata, born 1956, and Duchess Edwina, born
1960, the two daughters of Duke Christian Ludwig, and their first cousin twice removed
Duchess Woizlawa Feodora, Princess Reuss, born 1918, the daughter of Duke Adolf Friedrich.
Although unable to become the formal head of the House of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Duchess
Donata represents the family and is the legal heir to the legacy and estate of her
grandfather Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV which includes various forests and works
Treaty of Wittstock
The 1442 Treaty of Wittstock settled a dispute between the Ducal House of Mecklenburg
and the Electoral House of Brandenburg (House of Hohenzollern) over the succession
to the Principality of Wenden. The treaty concluded that the Dukes of Mecklenburg
were able to remain in possession of the Principality of Wenden, but in the event
of the extinction of the male line of the House of Mecklenburg the Electoral House
of Brandenburg had the right of succession to the whole of Mecklenburg.
Rules regarding marriages
In the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz the only deciding factor if a marriage is dynastic
or morganatic was the decision of the grand duke, or today the head of the house.
As only males could succeed to the throne, or today headship of the house, and as
women traditionally take the title or name of their husband, whether a marriage is
ruled as dynastic or not only really impacts upon the male members of the house and
The first member of the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz to enter into a marriage with
someone who was not from one of the reigning/formerly reigning or mediatised families
(Sections I and II in the Almanach de Gotha) was Duke Georg Alexander who married
Natalia Vanljarskaya a member of the Russian nobility. Although his uncle Grand Duke
Friedrich Wilhelm agreed to the marriage, as Duke Georg Alexander was firmly established
in Russia where he had spent his whole life he did not seek or receive formal dynastic
recognition for the marriage and renounced his rights of succession to the throne,
although he retained his membership of the grand ducal house and the right to exercise
a regency should the need arise. One month after Duke Georg Alexander’s February
1890 wedding his wife was created Countess of Carlow by Grand Duke Friedrich Wilhelm.
Following the births of their four children because the marriage was without dynastic
recognition the children took their title and status from their mother.
The reigning grand duke, or today the head of the house, in addition to deciding
whether a marriage is dynastic or not can also retroactively recognise a marriage
as dynastic, or alternatively grant dynastic rights to individuals who descend in
the legitimate male line from a non dynastic marriage. The only occasion when this
prerogative has been exercised in the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was in 1928 when
the unmarried head of the house Duke Carl Michael, who was the last male in the family
with dynastic rights, acted to ensure the survival of the junior Strelitz branch
of the House of Mecklenburg by adopting his nephew Count Georg of Carlow and his
family, granting them membership of the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and the dynastic
titles Duke/Duchess of Mecklenburg with his nephew automatically becoming heir presumptive
to the headship of the grand ducal house. The adoption was recognised on 23 December
1929 by Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who as head of the
other branch of the family would have become head of the entire House of Mecklenburg
in accordance with the Treaty of Hamburg, had the dynastic male line of Strelitz
died out with Duke Carl Michael.
Although the former Count Georg also had two sisters alive in 1928 instead of retroactively
recognising the marriage of their parents as dynastic meaning Count Georg’s sisters
would automatically become Duchesses of Mecklenburg and members of the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz,
Duke Carl Michael bestowed that status only upon Count Georg, his wife and children.
This follows the example set in 1896 by the Princely House’s of Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen
and Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt which suffering from a lack of male heirs recognised their
morganatic cousin Prince Sizzo of Leutenberg as a Prince of Schwarzburg and full
dynastic member of the princely house, while not extending that status to his twin
sister Helene who remained a Princess of Leutenberg. In 1897 Prince Sizzo became
closely related to the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz when he married Princess Alexandra
of Anhalt, the younger sister of Princess Elisabeth of Anhalt the wife of Grand Duke
Adolf Friedrich V.