A German Doctor Revealed She Could Be Queen Of England – If Today’s Rules Existed 200 Years Ago

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Friederike Thyra Marion Wilhelmine Dorothea von der Osten – for most, the name doesn’t ring a bell. But if history had unfolded a little differently, almost everyone today would know of her now. Indeed, if today’s royal succession rules had been applied in the past, she would now be Queen of the United Kingdom.

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Many changes have been effected to the lives of British royals over the centuries. Consequently, today’s royals have opportunities unavailable to their predecessors – particularly in relation to their love lives. In fact, according to the Royal Marriages Act 1772, the ruling monarch was once able to block any marriages between a royal and somebody who potentially could, “diminish the status of the royal house.”

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In the past, some potential partners have actually been deemed unfit to become a royal spouse. For instance, King Edward VIII – who reigned in 1936 – actually gave up his crown so he could be with his love, Wallis Simpson. By this time, Simpson had already married and was now seeking her second divorce, which went against the Church of England’s rules.

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Given his position as King, Edward was also Head of the Church of England. But rather than foregoing his marriage to remain in good stead with his faith, Edward gave up his right to the throne. And so the year after he stepped down, he and Simpson married.

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Since that time, however, the laws have changed slightly. Indeed, since 2013 the Queen only has to give her blessing to the first six in line to the throne before they can wed. Currently, Prince Charles is first in line, followed by his son, William. Then come William’s three children – George, Charlotte and Louis. William’s brother, Harry, is sixth.

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As such, William and Harry had to seek their grandmother’s approval before their royal weddings. And first off was William. In October 2010 the prince popped the question to Kate Middleton, his classmate at the University of St. Andrews.

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William and Middleton’s nuptials took place on April 29, 2011, just days after receiving the Queen’s seal of approval. As the note giving the go-ahead put it, the Queen consented to the marriage of, “our most dearly beloved grandson Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, K.G. and our trusty and well-beloved Catherine Elizabeth Middleton.”

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Some wondered if Harry’s marriage would go off a smoothly as his brother’s. After a blind date organized by a friend, Harry had embarked on a relationship with Hollywood actress Meghan Markle in June 2016. By November the next year, they were engaged to be married.

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Royal watchers honed in on a detail in Markle’s past that might have barred her from marrying a prince. After all, she had been married and divorced once before. But on March 14, 2018, the Queen once again issued her consent for the wedding.

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Marriage isn’t the only area in which the royal family’s customs have relaxed over the years. Indeed, the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 amended the rules by which future kings and queens will ascend to the throne. This is, in fact, the same piece of legislation that reduced the number of royal family members who must seek the Queen’s approval before marrying.

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As for succession, the new law removed the Royal Marriages Act 1772. This once gave male children preference to the throne, regardless of whether they had older sisters. Now, ascension to the throne is decided by absolute primogeniture – meaning the oldest child, regardless of gender, is next in line.

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The law, which came into effect on March 29, 2015, has had a direct effect on the royal family. Prince Harry and Kate Middleton’s second child, Princess Charlotte, was born on May 2, 2015. Charlotte’s arrival put her fourth in line to the throne, behind her older brother George and ahead of Prince Harry.

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In the past, however, the birth of the couple’s third child, Prince Louis, would have shaken up the order of succession. Indeed, as a male he would’ve jumped ahead of Charlotte. But thanks to the Succession to the Crown Act, when he came into the world in April 2018 Charlotte held her position.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, this law could have changed the course of history if enacted earlier in time. In fact, a completely different woman would be sitting on the English throne today. This woman was born Friederike Thyra Marion Wilhelmine Dorothea von der Osten – although today she goes by her husband’s surname, von Reiche.

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On July 14, 1959, von Reiche was born in Bonn, Germany. At the time, the country was divided into two parts – the Federal Republic of Germany, a capitalist European nation, and the German Democratic Republic, which was part of the Soviet Bloc. In 1990 though, the halves reunited into Germany as we know it today.

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“I was brought up… with all the notions of duty to family, church and country,” von Reiche told The Sun in 2011. Eventually, she married her husband, Bernhard, and they moved to Leipzig – formerly a city in East Germany. She worked as a homeopathic healer and also served as a housewife in their ten-bedroom villa.

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In spite of her German roots, von Reiche feels a certain affinity for Great Britain. “I like many things about Britain, including the people,” she told The Sun. “I like to drink tea in the afternoon, just like the English – Earl Grey – but without milk. I like riding horses.”

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Von Reiche also knew that, in a different world, she wouldn’t just be enjoying the company of British people – she would be their monarch. She can trace her bloodline all the way back to Princess Victoria, who was the eldest child of Queen Victoria. However, the Royal Marriages Act 1772 prevented this princess from ever becoming Queen.

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At the time of her birth in November 1840 Princess Victoria was the heir presumptive to the throne. However, her mother had a second child, Prince Albert Edward, on November 9, 1841. As the old law went, he then jumped ahead of Princess Victoria in the line to succession.

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So, when Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901, it was Prince Albert who became King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, Princess Victoria had gone onto a new life in Germany, after she wed Prince Frederick William of Prussia. The princess had met the Prussian prince for the first time when she was just 11 years old.

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At that time, Princess Victoria – referred to as “Vicky” by her relatives – gave Prince Frederick a tour of The Great Exhibition. This was a display of culture and industry and is considered the first of the 19th century’s string of World’s Fairs. The princess made such an impression that her future husband remembered her well for years to come.

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Princess Victoria and Prince Frederick kept in touch after their initial meeting, writing letters until he next visited Britain. That happened in 1855 and only three days into his visit, Frederick asked Vicky’s parents if he could marry her. They happily agreed, so long as the pair waited two more years – until the princess was 17.

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The wedding took place on January 25, 1858. Although Princess Victoria was marrying the future king of Prussia, her mother insisted the wedding take place in London. And the Queen of Great Britain got her way, with the pair tying the knot at St. James’s Palace in the English capital.

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Eventually, Prince Frederick became German Emperor Frederick III. And so Victoria, once an English princess, earned the title of German Empress and Queen of Prussia. Frederick’s reign, however, lasted a mere 99 days, as he died from throat cancer at just 56 years of age.

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That meant Frederick and Victoria’s son, Wilhelm II, stepped into the role of German Emperor. As it would turn out, in fact, he proved to be the country’s last ruler with such a title. Wilhelm II was known as an ineffective military commander and so fell out of favor with his army. He eventually abdicated his right to the throne in 1918.

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With that, Wilhelm II escaped to the Netherlands. But one good thing came from his exile – he married Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein. Interestingly, the two could trace their lineage back to nearly the same place, as her maternal grandmother had been half-sister to his maternal grandmother, Queen Victoria.

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When Wilhelm II abdicated his throne, so did his son and eldest child, Crown Prince Wilhelm. With a promise not to take part in politics once he arrived, the Crown Prince traveled to Germany in 1923. However, he fought to have his crown reinstated – that was never granted, and the Crown Prince died in 1952 as a private citizen.

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The Crown Prince had actually outlived his son, Prince Wilhelm. While his son was alive, however, the Crown Prince stood in the way of his marriage to “a member of the minor nobility,” according to The West Australian. Prince Wilhelm had fallen for Dorothea von Salviati while at school in Bonn and he gave up his right to the the throne to wed her.

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Prince Wilhelm and von Salvati married in 1933. And seven years after the wedding, their union was finally recognized and the couple’s daughters were acknowledged as princesses of Prussia. That same year, though, Prince Wilhelm died while fighting in his country’s invasion of France on May 26.

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As Prince Wilhlem’s death showed, the family’s titles didn’t give them full immunity to what was happening in the world. In fact, von Reiche told The Sun, “My family lived in a castle near Breslau in what was before the Second World War, East Prussia. That is now the town of Wroclaw in Poland.”

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“My ancestors, like millions of others, were forced to flee westwards as the Soviet Red Army closed in on Hitler, raping, pillaging and murdering in revenge for the 27 million Russian dead at the hands of the Nazis,” von Reiche continued. “They fled with the clothes on their backs and whatever valuables they could carry.”

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Still, Prince Wilhelm’s oldest daughter, Princess Felicitas Cecile Alexandrine Helene Dorothea of Prussia – who was six years old when her father was killed – did survive the war. In 1958 she wed Dinnies von der Osten, who served as an anti-aircraft gunner in the war. The next year their daughter, von Reiche, was born.

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Growing up, von Reiche claims she was aware what could have been for herself and her parents. She said, “My mother and father told me all about the royal lineage and how I would have been Queen if the rules had been different.” Her mother had even once briefly spent time with the Queen Mother.

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Von Reiche admitted that she had considered what life might be like as the ruling monarch of the United Kingdom. “I realize it is not just about wearing a crown or jewelry or fancy balls,” she told The Sun. “It is about serving the people and your country. Certainly a huge responsibility, but I would have taken it on.”

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Of course, von Reiche knew that task would have been tough – especially as a German woman. “I am not naive enough to say the English would relish a German Queen,” she said. She went on to add that it would have been “important to be a Queen of the hearts of the people, in the way Princess Diana was.”

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Von Reiche expanded on some differences between her imagined rule and the present monarch’s. “I’m afraid I prefer my St. Bernards, Coco and Kyra, to the Queen’s tiny corgis,” she admitted. Furthermore, she also noted that the current Queen could do more to connect with her subjects, as she can appear, “a bit cold, a bit distanced from the people.”

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If von Reiche did sit on the throne, she would have three daughters in line to succeed her, too. The oldest, Felicitas Catharine Malina Johanna von Reiche, told The West Australian that she and her sisters “grew up being aware of who we were… It always belonged to my family history.”

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Felicitas said that most people in Germany didn’t know about her lineage, and they’d likely be apathetic about it if they did. “We have no monarchy anymore in Germany,” she said. “Germans are less interested in their formal royal dynasties than other European peoples that still have a king or queen. That is why most Germans are not aware of my background.”

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Those who have found out have shown a range of emotions, Felicitas added. “Some will ask me about it and some won’t. Their first reactions range from respect and insecurity to prejudice,” she said. “But I am very easy going about my family history, so most people treat me normally.”

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Her mother, too, has lived much of her life out of the spotlight – a story that could have so different with a switch in the law more than 100 years ago. “It’s nice to daydream sometimes over my cup of Earl Grey – what if, what if?” Von Reiche concluded. “But that’s all it is – just a dream.”

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