Flag of Mecklenburg

Government and The Grand Dukes
by Carol Gohsman Bowen

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Government Structure:Throughout the 1800's, Mecklenburg was divided into the two grand duchies, Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Mecklenburg-Strelitz was further divided into two parts, one on either side of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The government was a limited monarchy, ruled by grand dukes. Each duchy was a separate state, but both bodies met annually to make common laws and impose common taxes for the whole of Mecklenburg.

Mecklenburg-Schwerin consisted of: The Duchy of Schwerin, The Principality of Schwerin, The Wenden District of the Duchy of Guestrow, The Lordship of Wismar (Wismar and the surrounding area were under the rule of Sweden from 1648 to 1803), Rostock District, and The Domain of Scattered Convents.

Mecklenburg-Strelitz consisted of: Stargard District of the Duchy of Guestrow on the eastern side of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and The Principality of Ratzeburg on the western side of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

The lands of Mecklenburg were divided into Ritterschaft, Domanium, and Landschaft. The properties of the knights belonged to the Ritterschaft. All princely properties belonged to the Domanium. All the cities belonged to the Landschaft except Rostock and Wismar. These sea ports had their own special category. The status of individual localities relative to these three divisions changed often. The divisions also overlapped each other extensively.

The Dukes in these years were as follows:


1794-1816 Karl

1816-1860 Georg Friedrich

1860-1904 Friedrich Wilhelm

1904-1914 Adolf Friedrich V.

1914-Feb. 23, 1918 Adolph Friedrich VI.


1785-1837 Friedrich Franz I.

1837-1842 Paul Friedrich (For biography click here)

1842-1883 Friedrich Franz II. (For biography click here)

1883-1897 Friedrich Franz III.

1897-Nov. 9, 1918 Friedrich Franz IV.

The Grandduke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was deposed in 1918. He remained the Head of the House of Schwerin until his death in 1945.

Mecklenburg-Strelitz became a free-state in January 1919. The last reigning Grandduke died on February 23, 1918 and the successor to the throne, Duke Carl Michael, abdicated in 1919. Carl Michael remained the Head of the House of Strelitz until 1934. He was followed by Georg from 1934-1963, and Georg Alexander from 1963-1996.

There are still two existing lines of the Grandducal House:

The current "head" of the House of Mecklenburg-Schwerin is H.R.H. The Hereditary Grandduke Frederic Franz V. (born in 1910), who lives in Hamburg, and is 89 years old. He was married on June 11, 1941, at Wiligrad to Karin Elisabeth, nee von Schaper (1920- ). He forfeited his rights of succession as a result of his unequal marriage. His brother, H.R.H.Christian Ludwig, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1912-1996), succeeded as head of the dynasty on the death of his father, Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV. in 1945. Christian Ludwig died in 1996. Members of the House of Mecklenburg-Schwerin still living in 1999 are: H.R.H. The Heriditary Grandduke Frederic Franz, H.R.H. The Heriditary Grandduchess Karin Elisabeth, H.H. The Duchess Donata, H.H. The Duchess Edwina.

Head of the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at present is H.H. The Duke Georg Borwin of Mecklenburg. He became the head of the house when his father, H.H. The Duke Georg Alexander died in 1996. Members of the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz still living in 1999 are: H.H. The Duke Georg Borwin, Head of the house; H.H. The Duchess Alice, his wife; H.H. The Duke Charles Gregor, M.A., Dr. phil. (Father's brother); H.H. The Duchess Margarete, Princess of Hohenzollern (his wife); H.H. The Duchess Maria (sister of Georg Borwin); H.H. The Duchess Elisabeth (sister of Georg Borwin); H.H. The Duchess Irene (sister of Georg Borwin); H.H. The Duke Georg Alexander, Heriditary Prince (child of the Duke Georg Borwin); H.H. The Duke Charles Michel (child of the Duke Georg Borwin); H.H. The Duchess Helene Olga (child of the Duke Georg Borwin); H.R. and I.H. The Duchess Ilona, Archduchess of Austria, Princess of Hungary (Mother of Duke Georg Borwin and wife of the deceased Duke Georg Alexander).

For more information and pictures of the Grand Dukes and other royalty you can go here.

For information on the current royal family you can go here.

For more information on heraldry and coat of arms you can go here.

For more information medals of Mecklenburg you can go here.

Design & Production: Carol Goshman Bowen, Dieter G. H. Garling info@eMecklenburg.de