H.H. Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony
(given names: Andreas Michael Friedrich Hans Armin Siegfried Hubertus; born 21 March 1943) has been the head of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha since 1998. He is the grandson of Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the last ruling duke. He is styled as His Highness.
I was born 21 March 1943 at Schloss Casel in Lower Lusatia, Germany to Friedrich Josias, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Princess Viktoria Luise of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha . After their divorce in 1946, I was left in the custody of my mother, who moved to her family home “Steinwaendt” in Austria. It was there that she met and married her second husband, Captain Richard Whitten, who was serving in the American army in Salzburg, Austria.
In 1949, the army transferred our new family to the United States, where I spent most of my childhood and teenage life. On 6 March 1954, at the age of 12, my father became head of the house and I became heir apparent to the headship of the ducal house. When I was 16 I began to make regular visits to Germany in preparation for my future role as head of the Ducal House Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. It was during these visits that I was introduced to the old hunting traditions that became my lifelong passion.
In the early 1960s, I attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I studied Business Administration. I was one of the founding members of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity Chapter at the university and later became an honorary member.
MOVE TO GERMANY
As a dual citizen, and of the age when young men serve their country, it was not a difficult choice for me to become a full German citizen. In 1965 I returned to Coburg, and the first thing I did was to enrol in a German language school. Soon after, I joined the Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion 6 based in Eutin, Schleswig-Holstein, where I served from 1966 to 1968.
After serving in the army, I trained at various foresting companies in Germany, notably working as an apprentice timber merchant with Mueller & Son in Hamburg from 1969 to early 1971. That same year, in Hamburg I joined the provisions department of MITSUI & Company, one of the oldest and largest financial empires in Japanese history, and one of the most diversified and comprehensive trading, investment, and service companies in the world. Working for MITSUI taught me how to run a successful business.
MARRIAGE AND CHILDREN
In Hamburg I met Carin Dabelstein, and we married on 31 July 1971. Carin was born in Hamburg on 16 July 1946 and is the daughter of Adolf Martin Dabelstein and Irma Maria Classen. Although Carin was not of equal status in terms of royalty, my father approved of our marriage and it is therefore not considered “morganatic”.
After Carin and I married, we lived in Hamburg, where my daughter Stephanie was born in 1972 and my son Hubertus in 1975.
Soon after Hubertus was born, I sensed that my family presence in Coburg was fading due to the death of my grandmother Victoria Adelheid in 1970 and the fact that my father was spending increasingly more time at our property in Grein, Austria. So I decided to move my growing family back to Coburg.
HOME IN COBURG
Life in a small town was quite different from the city life we were used to in Hamburg. But as we settled in, we realized that Coburg had a lot to offer. Our second son Alexander was born there in 1977.
Once back home, I reached out to relatives, learned my family history, and established a renewed presence in Coburg as well as with families across Europe. This was not an easy task, because contacts with most English families and other dynasties were lost during World War II when my grandfather sided with Hitler. This was a tragic mistake on his part and has been very hard to repair. Mending fences was made even more difficult because my father moved to California. However, he later returned only to live in our family property in Grein, Austria.
During these first years back in Coburg, I was active in social circles, not only with the royals but also with local society. I joined the Coburg Rotary Club in 1983 and later became president in 1993. Most of my time was spent as Administrator of the Coburg Family Foundation.
BUILDING THE FAMILY BUSINESS
In 1989, when the Iron Curtain fell, my main goal was to re-acquire our lost property in former East Germany. After several years, in December 1996, I succeeded in buying back 2,000 hectares (4,942+ acres) of forest land in Thuringia. Later in 2000 the Family Foundation was able to negotiate with the federal government to acquire an additional 6,200 hectares (15,320+ acres) and with the Free State of Thuringia 800 hectares (1,976+ acres). A new forest operation has since been created and in 2013 the 2,000 hectares that I bought were transferred to the Family Foundation.
I became a member of the City Council in 1996 and remained in that position until 2002. During this period I was also the Protector of the Coburg Shooting Society and in 1999 became the Protector of the German Shooting Society.
When I first arrived in Coburg, my father was still living there part time, and we were fortunate to spend quiet afternoons and evenings together. We talked about his life and family, but also about our love for cars, especially fast ones. My interest in cars never faded and to this day I still keep up with the industry. My current collection includes a Volkswagen, a Mercedes, a Porsche, an Audi, and a Bentley.
HEAD OF THE HOUSE
On 23 January 1998, my father passed away, and I succeeded to the headship of the Ducal House. I continued my work as administrator of the Family Foundation until January 2012, when I retired and passed the responsibility on to my son Hubertus the Hereditary Prince.
Since retiring, I have continued to nurture my relationships with my extended family, employees, and friends. I still love to travel, hunt, and visit my properties in both Germany and Austria.
My wish is that succeeding generations of Coburgs will reach out across Europe and continue to restore the once strong relationships these families enjoyed.
Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duchess of Saxony
Hamburg, 16 July 1946
Carin was born in Hamburg, Germany on 16 July 1946 to Irma Maria Margarete Callsen and Adolf Wilhelm Martin Dabelstein. Carin’s father was a merchant and entrepreneur and owned a printing shop in Hamburg.
Prince Andreas met Carin while stationed in Hamburg, fell in love, and proposed in late 1970. In accordance with tradition and the house law of 1855, the marriage would have been morganatic, and thus required the approval of Prince Andreas’ father. Prince Friedrich Josias of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Head of the House at the time, willingly approved.
The official state marriage ceremony took place on 18 June 1971 and the ecclesiastical wedding was on 31 July 1971. After their marriage, Prince Andreas and Carin lived with their two elder children for several years in Hamburg . Princess Stephanie was born on 31 January 1972 and Hereditary Prince Hubertus was born on 16 September 1975.
In 1970, the death of Andreas’ grandmother, Duchess Victoria Adelheid, left a family void in Coburg. Her death coupled with the fact that Prince Andreas’ father was spending more time at their property in Grein, Austria, Andreas and Carin felt obligated to fill the void by moving back to Coburg in 1976.
Carin found Coburg to be a great place to raise her children. A year after their move to Coburg, Prince Alexander was born on 4 May 1977.
Though raising their three children was a full-time job, Carin found time to become a member of “Help for the Disabled Child Coburg e.V.,” a non-profit association whose principal goal is to promote and support children and young people with disabilities.
Carin later became an honorary member of the “Friends of Friedenstein” and a Protector of the Shooting Guild of New Schuetzenstand.
Unfortunately, in 1997, Carin was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In the beginning, Carin’s symptoms were mild and she was able to live a normal life, but over the years her condition has worsened and she is now under constant care at home.
Carin always enjoyed a good book and loved listening to music, but her favourite thing was to try new recipes in the kitchen. Now that she is no longer able to cook she enjoys watching cooking shows.
Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duchess of Saxony
Hamburg, 31 January 1972
Princess Stephanie Sybilla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was born in Hamburg on 31 January 1972. Three years after the birth of Prince Hubertus, the family moved to Coburg, where Stephanie attended the Pestalozzi School for nine years and then the State Professional School for Home Economics for three years.
In 1992 Stephanie began a three-year apprenticeship to further her business administration training. The apprenticeship proved with diverse training and familiarity with a well-organized operation. In 1996 she began working for the Family Foundation, where she remains today.
Stephanie’s love of dogs and horses started at an early age. She acquired her first horse in 1983 and has been riding ever since. She has always had a keen interest in the well-being of her animals and uses a technique called “Bowtech,” a gentle, non-intrusive hands-on therapy that stimulates the muscles in the body to aid in healing itself. Stephanie began her Bowtech curriculum in 2010, and on 1 October 2013 she was certified as an “EMRT.”(For more information on this therapy, visit Stephanie’s website at stephanie-coburg.de.)
In keeping with our family tradition, Stephanie studied for and received her hunting license in 2008 and has been on several hunting trips in Germany and Austria.
Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony
Hamburg, 16 September 1975
Hereditary Prince Hubertus Michael was born in Hamburg on 16 September 1975. He graduated from Coburg public school in 1995 and joined the Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion in Ebern, where he was appointed to Officer Cadet on 20 December 1996. He left the army in 1997 as a Second Lieutenant and went on to study law in Wurzburg, Germany, from 1997 to 1999.
In January 1998, Prince Friedrich Josias Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Hubertus’ grandfather) died, making Hubertus the heir apparent to the headship of the Ducal House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
At the end of 1999, Hubertus attended the London School of Economics for a year, and then spent two years finishing his law degree at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. He passed his state law examination in 2002.
Hubertus then worked for the Provincial Court of Appeals from April 2003 to June 2005. In September 2005 he worked for the Ulsenheimer Friederich law firm in Munich for a year before moving to New York.
During this time, Hubertus became a member of the Schützengesellschaft Coburg (Shooting Club in Coburg), which was established in 1354 and whose handwritten register of members dates back to 1710. As with all members of the Coburg family, Hubertus is an ardent licensed hunter.
In 2006, Prince Andreas created the Ducal Saxe-Coburg and Gotha House Order to reflect the old Ducal Saxe Ernestine House Order instituted in 1833, as a joint award of the Saxon Duchies. Hubertus received the title of Knight Grand Cross, the highest grade in many orders of knighthood.
In 2007, Prince Hubertus took a job as an international private banker with Deutsche Bank Securities’ New York office. He completed the General Securities Representative – General Industry/Product Examination in July 2007 and the Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination in February 2008.
While in New York, Hubertus met Kelly Rondestvedt. He proposed to her in Callenberg, Coburg. The civil ceremony was held in the Castle Callenberg, with a small family reception following on 21 May 2009. The religious wedding was held on 23 May 2009 in the St. Moriz Church in Coburg. After the wedding the couple went back to New York, where they remained until 2011.
In December 2011, Hubertus and Kelly moved back to Germany. They lived in Munich first, while their future apartment in Coburg was being renovated. In January 2012 Prince Andreas turned the management of the Family Foundation over to Hubertus.
Hubertus and Kelly are currently living in Coburg. Their daughter Katharina Victoria Elizabeth Cheryl was born on 30 April, 2014.
Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony
Coburg, 4 May 1977
Prince Alexander Philipp of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was born on 4 May 1977. He attended the Heinrich Schaumberger Schule, and at the age of eleven his parents enrolled him in the Waldorf School in Callenberg for three years. Alexander then attended the Hermann-Lietz-Schule Schloss Hohenwerdha in Hesse.
While in school, Alexander developed an interest in spiders, more specifically tarantula. When asked about his fascination, he simply stated that they were “cool.” Although his parents were less than happy about his choice of pet, they were nevertheless supportive. Today he has twenty female and two male tarantulas, the oldest being over ten years old.
After school Alexander went to work in the family forest of Callenberg. At first his responsibilities were more hands-on labor than business, but it became apparent that his love for the forests had increased and he should be further educated. He spent time with the forester Hansmann learning forestry business.
Prince Andreas realized that there had not been any family member in Greinburg Castle, Grein, Austria, since his father passed away in 1998. So Alexander was asked if he would like to move to Austria to represent the family and to further his studies in the forestry business. Being young and single, this was a great opportunity for him to be on his own and still do the work he loved, so he moved to Grein where he is working now in the forestry administration.
Alexander has inherited the father’s love for fast cars and has kept up the family tradition of hunting.
Hereditary Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duchess of Saxony
Pensacola, Florida, 10 January 1975
Kelly was born in Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, in the United States, on 10 January 1975. Her father, Christian Robert Rondestvedt, is a retired captain in the United States Navy. Her mother, Cheryl Ann Forbes, is a retired middle school teacher in San Diego County, California. Kelly has two younger brothers, Christian and James.
Because Kelly’s parents were from San Diego, they moved back to California, where Kelly attended Lemoore Union High School in King’s County. Kelly was the salutatorian at her 1993 graduation ceremony in Tiger Stadium.
Kelly attended the University of California in Los Angeles and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 1997. She then went to work for Price Waterhouse Coopers in San Diego. On 6 August 2000, Kelly became a California Certified Public Accountant and decided to enrol in the UCLA Anderson School of Management; two years later in 2002 she received her Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
With both degrees in hand, she was off to New York City, where she found a job with Morgan Stanley Group as an investment banker—first as an associate and later as a vice-president.
Kelly was out with friends in 2007 when she saw Hubertus and gave him her card. He called a few days later and they began dating. After first going to San Diego to ask Kelly’s father for her hand in marriage, he proposed on 4 July 2008 at Schloss Callenberg in Coburg, where the civil ceremony was performed on 21 May 2009. The religious ceremony was on 23 May 2009 at the St. Moriz Church in Coburg.
After the wedding the couple went back to New York where they remained until 2011, when they moved back to Germany. They took an apartment in Munich while their current apartment in Coburg was being renovated.
Kelly was expecting their first child in May, but as nature would have it, Princess Katharina Victoria Elizabeth Cheryl arrived early on 30 April 2014 at 8:00 a.m. in Munich.
Some of Kelly’s favourite things to do are swimming, dancing, and going to cultural events and museums.