Eduard Julius Ernst August Erdmann, Prince von Anhalt (German: Eduard Julius Ernst August von Anhalt; born 3 December 1941), usually referred to as Prince Eduard, is the head of the House of Ascania, the family which ruled the Duchy of Anhalt until 1918.
Eduard was born at Schloss Ballenstedt in Ballenstedt, in what is now the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, the youngest of the five children of the last reigning Duke of Anhalt, Joachim Ernst, and of his second wife Editha “Edda” Charlotte Wilhelmine Marwitz, who allegedly paid 10,000 marks to Bertha von Stephani to improve her social standing by adult adoption.
On 9 October 1963, Eduard’s older brother Friedrich died childless in a car crash. He uses the title Prince of Anhalt, but is referred to by others as Duke of Anhalt. The succession of Eduard and his brother was disputed by their uncle Prince Eugen who also claimed the headship of house after the death of Duke Joachim Ernst. The death without male issue in 1980 of Prince Eugen left Prince Eduard as the sole claimant to the headship of the house.
Eduard lived in the United States for several years, working in a number of retail sales positions, before returning to Germany in 1967. He has been a journalist and columnist for numerous German magazines. He has also hosted a television programme Adel verpflichet (Noblesse oblige) for RTL Television. Subsequently, Anhalt became a frequent German television commentator for royal events.
In 1978, Eduard wrote a book about his family’s traditions, Askanische Sagen Über die Entstehung der Deutschen (English: Ascanian Legends and the Origins of the Germans). A revised and expanded edition of the book with the title Sagenhaftes Askanien: Geschichten und Legenden (English: Incredible Ascania, Stories and Legends) was published in 2004.
Eduard has served as deputy chairman of the Société des Amis of the Almanach de Gotha reboot.
Due to his father’s incarceration in a concentration camp from 1938 to 1944, Eduard’s paternity has been questioned.[page needed][verification needed] In 1990 his eldest sister Princess Marie Antoinette (called Alexandra) termed him her ‘half brother’ to the press, and alleged that his father was Heinrich Himmler. Eduard responded by suggesting the matter was simply a dispute between siblings, and that she wished to besmirch his name.
In April 1990, Eduard asserted ownership of the family seat Schloss Ballenstedt, which had been confiscated by the Communist authorities in East Germany after World War II. He was unsuccessful, and there were lengthy administrative disputes, although relations with the town administration of Ballenstedt subsequently improved.
After a further long legal fight with the town administration, which had insisted on first right of refusal, in May 2000 Eduard managed to purchase for 400,000 D-Marks another property of the family which had been requisitioned. This was the small but historic domed neoclassical hunting lodge, Röhrkopf, built in 1770, which lies within the former park of Schloss Ballenstedt. It has now become the family seat, and three holiday apartments for general rental have been constructed within its garden. Fear of lingering animosity towards the family, including over issues of restitution, inhibited his children from resettling in Anhalt, although after her divorce his wife bought a home in Dessau, and worked to promote the region.
A difficulty for Eduard has been the adult adoptees of his aunt Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt. Adopted for what has been presumed to be mercenary reasons, and laying claim to be princes of Anhalt, they are estimated to number 35 persons. Outside of Germany the most notable of the adoptees is the last husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor, Frederic von Anhalt formerly, Hans Georg Robert Lichtenberg. In 2010, Eduard released a statement restating that such individuals would never be officially recognised by the family as members of House of Anhalt-Ascania.
Eduard gained international attention in August 2010 when he claimed to have advanced knowledge of the engagement of his distant cousin Prince William of Wales to Kate Middleton. Although a spokesperson for the British Royal family denied Eduard’s claim, the engagement was indeed announced a few months later.