Hereditary Princess Sophie and her youngest son Prince Nikolaus visited the Banz Abbey, a former Benedictine monastery north of Bamberg in the German state of Bavaria, earlier this week. The reason for their visit was the fact that the Hereditary Princess recently inherited 900 hectares of land from her father, Duke Max in Bavaria.
Founded in 1069 by Countess Alberada of Schweinfurt and her husband, Count Hermann of Habsberg-Kastl, Banz Abbey was acquired by Duke Wilhelm in Bavaria in 1814, eleven years after it was secularised and dissolved. Over the years, the Duke turned the former abbey into a summer residence and it became known as Banz Castle which remained in the hands of the dukes in Bavaria until 1933 when Duke Ludwig Wilhelm sold it to the the missionary order of the Alliance of the Holy Angels. It seems, however, that they only sold the castle but not the property surrounding it, which was now inherited by Hereditary Princess Sophie.
A traditional estate of the Wittelsbach branch of the Dukes in Bavaria, it is likely that Princess Sophie's father inherited the land surrounding the abbey in 1968 upon the death of aforementioned Duke Ludwig Wilhelm (though the title Duke in Bavaria had to wait as it first passed to Duke Luitpold, a cousin of Ludwig Wilhelm). Being the son of Duke Albrecht of Bavaria, himself son of the last Crown Prince of Bavaria, Rupprecht and his first wife née Duchess Marie-Gabriele in Bavaria, and his wife née Countess Maria Draskovich of Trakostjan, he was born a prince of Bavaria but later adopted as an adult by his great-uncle Duke Ludwig-Wilhelm, who was a brother of Duchess Marie-Gabriele.
[Still with me? I know, royal genealogy can be confusing... Wanna know what? Crown Prince Rupprecht's second wife was Princess Antonia of Luxembourg, sister of Grand Duchess Charlotte, which makes Duke Max and Grand Duke Henri step-second cousins, apart from the 50,000 -- No, I did not count. -- other relations they have.]
On to a little more confusing genealogy... Duke Max in Bavaria is also the heir of his older brother, Duke Franz of Bavaria, who does not have any children. Duke Max has five daughters of whom Hereditary Princess Sophie is the oldest. As both branches of the Wittelsbach family only allow males to inherit, the title of the Duke of Bavaria is bound to go, via Duke Max and his second cousin Prince Luitpold, to Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (*1982), son of Prince Luitpold, himself the only son of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (1913–2008) and Princess Irmingard of Bavaria, daughter of Crown Prince Rupprecht and Princess Antonia of Luxembourg and thus half-sister of Duke Albrecht.
For a few years now, royal watchers have speculated what will happen to the Duke in Bavaria title eventually. You see, Germany might have abolished the privileges and such of the nobility but their former titles are still reflected in their surnames. While Duke Franz is legally 'Franz Prinz von Bayern', his brother is legally 'Max Herzog in Bayern' as he was adopted by her person who had that last name. Long story short, the fact that Hereditary Princess Sophie (and possibly also her sisters) inherited land from her father made me wonder whether other inheritance questions might have also been settled and whether Duke Max has or is about to adopt another male member of the Wittelsbach family to, one day, carry on the title of the Duke in Bavaria which is lower than that as the Duke of Bavaria who is also the head of the Wittelsbach family as a whole.
As a sidenote, while Hereditary Princess Sophie might not the eligible to inherit her father's or uncle's title, she is bringing the Jacobite claim to the thrones of England, Scotland, Ireland and France to Liechtenstein though I'm not sure whether she will ever actually claim them. While that one is not sure, it is sure that the Hereditary Princess won't change much in the management of the 860 hectares of forest and 40 hectares of agricultural land she was given by her father telling the local paper that she simpy visited to get an overview and become acquainted with the area.