Principality of Reuss-Gera
Principality of the Reuss Junior Line
Fürstentum Reuß jüngerer Linie
|Motto: Ich bau auf Gott|
"I build/rely on God"
|Anthem: Heil unserm Fürsten, Heil!|
"Hail to our Prince, Hail!"
|Minister of State|
|Gustav von Strauch (first)|
|Paul Ruckdeschel (last)|
|9 April 1806|
|11 November 1918|
The Principality of Reuss-Gera (German: Fürstentum Reuß-Gera), called the Principality of the Reuss Junior Line (German: Fürstentum Reuß jüngerer Linie) after 1848, was a sovereign state in modern Germany, ruled by members of the House of Reuss. It was one of the successor states of the Imperial County of Reuss. The Counts Reuss, with their respective capitals and Residenzen at Gera, Schleiz, Lobenstein, Köstritz and Ebersdorf, were all elevated to the title of prince (Fürst) in 1806. Their successor branch heads shared that title, while their cadets were also each titled prince (Prinz). Thus all males of the family were properly "Prince Heinrich (Roman numeral) Reuss, J.L.", without use of a nobiliary particle, although for convenience their branch names remained in colloquial use (for example, "Prince Heinrich I Reuss of Köstritz").
The territories of four separate branches of the Junior Line amalgamated between 1824 and 1848, at which time the senior branch of Gera retained sovereignty over the surviving cadet branches, which retained succession rights to the princely throne. In 1905, the principality of Reuss Junior Line had an area of 827 km2 (319 square miles) and a population of 145,000, with Gera as its capital.
In the aftermath of World War I, the territory of the Junior Line merged with that of the Elder Line in 1919 as the People's State of Reuss, which became part of the new state of Thuringia on 1 May 1920.
The House of Reuss practises a unique system of naming and numbering the male members of the family, every one of whom for centuries has borne the name "Heinrich", followed by a Roman numeral. While most royal and noble houses assign a regnal number only to the ruling head of the house, and that in the sequential order of their reigns, the Reuss Junior Line ("Reuss, J.L.") used a numbering sequence for all male family members which began afresh with the first son born in each century. The male children within a single nuclear family need not bear sequential numbers, as all members of the larger family share the common numbering system. For example, the sons of Prince Heinrich LXVII Reuss of Schleiz, in order of their births, were named Heinrich V, Heinrich VIII, Heinrich XI, Heinrich XIV, and Heinrich XVI, with their male-line kinsmen holding the numerals in between according to the order of their births. In consequence of this naming system, certain heads of the Reuss Junior Line have had the highest numbers attached to their name of any European ruling families. The designation of "Junior Line" was dropped in 1930; the Elder Line ("Reuss, A.L.") had become extinct as its last male member, Heinrich XXIV, renounced his rights as sovereign in 1918 and died unmarried in 1927.
In 1927 Heinrich XXIV, Prince Reuss of Greiz died and his titles passed to Heinrich XXVII, who became the 1st Prince Reuss and died the next year. His heir Heinrich XLV was arrested in August 1945 in Ebersdorf by the Soviet military and disappeared. On 5 January 1962 he was declared dead in absentia and Heinrich IV, Prince Reuss of Köstritz inherited his rights.
One of the younger sub-lines of the branch which ruled the Reuss, J.L. until 1918, includes the "Counts of Plauen" from the late 19th century. When Prince Heinrich XXVI Reuss (1857-1913) married Countess Viktoria von Fürstenstein (1863-1949) in 1885, under the strict marriage rules then enforced by the Reuss dynasty, although he was but a younger son of a minor ruling family, their children were not allowed to bear the dynasty's princely title. They were, instead, designated "Counts of Plauen", although they remained in the line of succession to the two thrones of Reuss The Fürstensteins lacked Uradel status: Viktoria's paternal grandfather, Pierre-Alexandre Le Camus (1774-1824), son of a minor noble French notary living in Martinique, rose to become foreign minister in Jerome Bonaparte's Kingdom of Westphalia, was ennobled there in 1807 and made a count of the Kingdom of France in 1817).[verification needed]
When the German Empire collapsed at the end of World War I, the reigning Prince Reuss lost his crown along with all the other monarchs whose realms were within Germany. In 1927, Henrich XXVI's son, known as Count Heinrich Harry of Plauen (1890-1951), was adopted by his childless uncle, Prince Heinrich XXX (1864-1939), and the now-deposed dynasty agreed to accept him as "Prince Heinrich Harry Reuß", along with those of his male-line descendants born of unions complying with the family's 1902 rules that permitted marriages to countesses (Heinrich Harry's wife, Huberta von Tiele-Winckler was only a baroness in her own right, but belonged to a family of comital rank in Prussia). Their son Heinrich Enzio was thus accepted by the House of Reuss as a prince, but his own marriage to Baron Gustaf Peyron's daughter in 1949 occurred before the Reuss family conference of 1957 which lowered the marital standard again, allowing dynastic inter-marriage with baronial families.
In 1992, Prince Heinrich Ruzzo of Reuss, Count of Plauen, a prince of the former sovereign House of Reuss, married Anni-Frid Lyngstad, a former lead singer of the popular 1970s Swedish musical group ABBA. Since her marriage to the prince, she has held the titles of Princess Reuss and Countess of Plauen with the style of Her Serene Highness. Heinrich Ruzzo died of lymphoma on October 29, 1999, leaving her the titles of Dowager Princess and Countess. She currently resides in Genolier in the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland. She has shared a home since 2020 with her British partner, Henry Smith, 5th Viscount Hambleden.
Since 1999 the House of Reuss has recognized Prince Heinrich Ruzzo Reuss of Plauen (German: Heinrich Ruzzo, Prinz Reuß von Plauen) by his formal title, though without official membership in the dynasty or entitlement to the traditional style of Serene Highness. Under German law the title has only been allowed as part of the surname after 1919, thus the name "Heinrich Ruzzo Prinz Reuss."
For the rulers of Reuss-Gera, see Imperial County of Reuss § Rulers of Reuss.