Suggest a change
341 views this week
Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse

Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse

German noble
The basics
Date of birth Darmstadt, Darmstadt Government Region, Hesse, Germany
Date of death Nov 16, 1937 Ostend, Arrondissement of Ostend, West Flanders, Flemish Region
Children: Prince Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine Princess Johanna of Hesse and by Rhine
Father: Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse
Brother(s): Louis Prince of Hesse and by Rhine
Spouse: Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark
Mother: Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich
Sister(s): Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine
Political party Nazi Party
Authority VIAF id
The details

Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse (Georg Donatus Wilhelm Nikolaus Eduard Heinrich Karl, 8 November 1906 – 16 November 1937) was the first child of Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse and his second wife, Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich.

Marriage and children

On 2 February 1931 at Darmstadt Georg, a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, married his first cousin once-removed, Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark, daughter of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg (and thus a sister of Prince Philip), a great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. They had four children:

Name Birth Death Notes
Prince Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine 25 October 1931 16 November 1937 Killed in air accident
Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine 14 April 1933 16 November 1937 Killed in air accident
Princess Johanna of Hesse and by Rhine 20 September 1936 14 June 1939 Died from meningitis.
Stillborn son 16 November 1937 Stillborn in air accident.


In October 1937, Georg Donatus' father, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse died. A few weeks after the funeral, his younger brother, Prince Louis was due to be married to the Hon. Margaret Geddes, daughter of Lord Geddes. On 16 November 1937, Georg Donatus, Cecilie, their two young sons, Georg's mother Grand Duchess Eleonore, the children's nurse, a family friend, a pilot and two crewmen, flew from Darmstadt bound for the United Kingdom, where Prince Louis was due to be married. The airplane hit a factory chimney near Ostend and crashed into flames, killing all those on board. Cecilie was heavily pregnant with her fourth child at the time of the crash, and the remains of the newborn baby were found in the wreckage, indicating that Cecilie had gone into labour during the flight; the Belgian inquiry into the crash suggested that the pilot was attempting to land in Ostend despite the poor weather conditions because of the birth.


Prince Louis' wedding had been scheduled for the 20th, but, following discussions with his future father-in-law Sir Auckland Geddes, was brought forward to the following day (17 November), as a small and quiet ceremony with the guests dressed in mourning.

Immediately afterward, he set off with his new wife Margaret to Belgium to visit the crash site. The funeral and burial of Georg Donatus and his family took place at the Rosenhöhe, Darmstadt, Hesse a few days later. Attending were Prince Philip, Gottfried, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Prince Philipp of Hesse, Berthold, Margrave of Baden, Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia and Lord Louis Mountbatten, among others. A photograph of the funeral procession, showing Prince Louis as chief mourner, shows crowds saluting the mourners with the Hitler salute. World War II began less than two years later.

The Hereditary Grand Duke and Duchess' fourteen-month-old daughter, Johanna was the only one of the family who was not on board the aircraft. She was adopted by her uncle Prince Louis and aunt Princess Margaret in early 1938. Johanna died of meningitis in 1939.

With the death of the childless Prince Louis in 1968, the male line of the Hesse and by Rhine became extinct.


  • His Royal Highness The Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine

Georg Donatus never acceded to the grand ducal throne as it had been abolished at the end of the First World War. Titles became surnames after that point and it was rare for the head of a royal, grand ducal or ducal family to change his title upon accession as head of a house.


The contents of this page are sourced from a Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
comment(s) so far
Leave a comment
Add a word
What's the good word on Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse?
To suggest a correction, or to flag this profile for review, click: