In January 21st 2011, S.K.H. Prinz Georg Friedrich von Preussen, head of the Prussian Royal family, announced his engagement to I.D.H. Prinzessin Sophie von Isenburg, with a grand Potsdam wedding planned for later this year. Royal observers all around, long since weaned from any hopes of truly royal matches ever happening again, had to pinch themselves in disbelief. Furthermore, studying the Isenburg family tree, one discovers that the two sisters of the bride-to-be, Princesses Katharina and Isabelle, have also married within the Gotha; Katharina to Archduke Martin of Austria and Isabelle to Fürst Carl zu Wied.
Blimey! Is this the start of a revival of dynastic marriages? Probably not, but it seems quite evident that members of the mediatized families - the so called "second parts" - do tend to marry more according to the rulebook than their first part colleagues. In the case of Georg Friedrich one is not totally surprised, since his being the head of the family and having become so because of his uncles’ non-dynastic marriages, more or less forced him to chose his bride carefully.
S.K.H. is of course the German version of H.R.H. Had it been before 1918, one might even have thrown in another "K" there [Seine Kaiserliche und Königliche Hoheit], the Prussian Royal family at the same time being the Imperial family of Germany. But what in God’s name does I.D.H. stand for? The answer is "Ihre Durchläuchtigste Hoheit" - meaning "Her Enlightened Highness" - a nice epithet that one could easily accept and grow fond of. But it actually means "Transparent" which is perhaps not a quality one would always wish for. There is in fact another epithet; "Erlaucht" which does indeed translate as "Enlightened".
In my latest book; "The Bernadotte Descendants" [Bernadotteättlingar], as well as in the previous edition, I have chosen to keep the titles and the epithets in their original language. Trying to translate them would inevitably cause problems and inadequacies. "His Transparency" would of course be ludicrous and we also have the problem with the little words, such as "von" and "zu". It has become fashionable to use the English version of a name, e.g. "Prince of Prussia", only for the dynast members of the family, whereas those family members that are born from an unequal marriage are called by their German names; "Prinz von Preussen", where all elements according to German law are considered to be a surname, not a title. This however means that one has to decide who is dynast and who is not - and one quickly realizes that this is an impossible task.
It is probably better to use the original names, titles and epithets and wherever necessary explain what they mean. Except of course when it comes to languages with other letters, e.g. Russian, Bulgarian and Greek, where you are doomed to failure...
Anyway, see you in Potsdam!