Princess Feodora Reuss – Farewell to a Mecklenburg Duchess

Deaths Events

Through a common friend a sad message reached me on Monday 3 June 2019: in the morning of that day Princess Woizlawa Feodora Reuss, Herzogin zu Mecklenburg-Schwerin had died in Strittmatt at the aged of 100. When she celebrated her 100th birthday on 17 December 2018, she did that quietly at home in Strittmatt(-Görwihl), Baden-Württemberg. Three days later she celebrated with many guests with a birthday concert at the Geraer Theater. The party in a hotel afterwards went on for hours, and the birthday girl was certainly not the first to leave and even danced. She was a vegetarian, religious, loved music, and it was not until the last weeks of her long life that her health deteriorated quickly. Her mind and great humor remained until the end.

She was born as the only chilld of Duke Adolf Friedrich zu Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1873-1969) and his wife Princess Victoria Feodora Reuß (1889-1918), who died one day after giving birth to her daughter. She grew up with her father, and later also her stepmother Princess Elisabeth zu Stolberg-Rossla, in a private house in Bad Doberan, Mecklenburg. She also spent lots of time at Osterstein Castle in Gera where her Reuss grandparents lived and as a toddler even lived there for a year when her father had travelled to Africa. Her nanny was Emmi Roß, who stayed with the family until her death in 2006, aged 106. From an early age Feodora was called Lolly, a name she invented herself as a young child, as her name was so difficult to pronounce. She visited a boarding school. After World War II unfortunately the relationship with her cousin Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, whose bridesmaid she was in 1937, changed, something the Princess always regretted.

In 1939 Feodora married Prince Heinrich I Reuss and had six children, one daughter, Feodora, and five sons who according to the family tradition are all called Heinrich. The couple resided at Osterstein Castle, but had to flee in April 1945 when the Americans bombarded the castle, that burnt down, and the Russians came. Via Bavaria the family reached Heinrichs brother-in-law in Büdingen, Hessen. He died in 1982. In March 1990, just a few months after the Peaceful Revolution, the family traveled to Gera and Ebersdorf. Feodora soon returned to Gera permanently. In 2005 she moved to Strittmatt, Baden-Württemberg, because of her health. She continued travelling and in 2011 for example visited the Netherlands.

Upon her death she was, according to the death announcement, survived by six children, four children-in-law, eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The funeral service took place at the Paradies-Kapelle, Kloster Arnsburg. The Princess was buried at the nearby cemetery, next to her husband. Among the guests, as on her birthday, were the Duchesses Donata and Edwina, the last remaining members of the family. Also Borwin, Duke zu Mecklenburg, of the Strelitz branche had come.

A memorial service will take place on 1 July 2019, 4.30pm in the Kirche St. Johannis in Gera.

Thank you Bearn Bilker and Angelika Steiner-Bilker for the information and photos

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