Leopold IV, Prince of Lippe

Leopold IV
Prince of Lippe
Reign 25 October 1905 – 12 November 1918
Predecessor Alexander
Successor Monarchy abolished
Born 30 May 1871 (1871-05-30)
Died 30 December 1949 (1949-12-31) (aged 78)
Spouse Princess Bertha of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld
Princess Anna of Ysenburg and Büdingen
House House of Lippe
Father Ernest, Count of Lippe-Biesterfeld
Mother Countess Karoline of Wartensleben

Leopold IV, Prince of Lippe (Leopold Julius Bernhard Adalbert Otto Karl Gustav; 30 May 1871 30 December 1949) was the final sovereign of the Principality of Lippe. Succeeding to the throne in 1905 he had been governing the state since 1904 as regent.

Early life

He was born as Count Leopold of Lippe-Biesterfeld in Oberkassel, the son of Ernest, Count of Lippe-Biesterfeld and Countess Karoline of Wartensleben. Leopold belonged to the Lippe-Biesterfeld line of the House of Lippe which was the most senior line of the princely house after the reigning Lippe-Detmold line.

He served as an officer in the German Army until 1894, when he left to study political science at the universities of Bonn and Berlin.

Ruler of Lippe

Since 1895 Lippe had been ruled by a regent due to the incapacity of Prince Alexander. Leopold's father had acted as regent since 1897 and following his death on 26 September 1904 Leopold assumed the regency. This was not recognized by the German Emperor William II who initially refused to legally recognize Leopold as regent as there was an issue over whether Leopold and his siblings were of legitimate rank and as such eligible for the succession. As a result, the Diet of Lippe appointed a high commission to consider the matter.[1]

The regency issue was still ongoing when Prince Alexander died on 13 January 1905. Leopold was confirmed as Prince of Lippe and Alexander's successor on 25 October 1905 following a court ruling.[2]

On 3 June 1911 while out motoring Leopold and his brother Prince Julius were attacked by a gang of Italian laborers who hurled a shower of missiles at the princes. Though Leopold escaped unhurt his brother received a head wound.[3]

During World War I Leopold upgraded the titles of the various lines of the House of Lippe. One of the members to benefit from the granting of titles was Leopold's nephew Count Bernhard of Biesterfeld (son of Leopold's brother Bernhard) who would go on to become the Prince Consort of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. On 24 February 1916 Bernhard and his brother were upgraded to the title Prince of Lippe-Biesterfeld with the style Serene Highness. The counts of Lippe-Weissenfeld also benefited with creations of the title Prince of Lippe-Weissenfeld with the style serene highness taking place on 24 February 1916 for Count Clemens and his descendants and again on 9 November 1918 for the other members of this line.

Just three days after upgrading the titles of members of the Lippe-Weissenfeld line and following the German Empire's defeat in World War I and the subsequent revolution Leopold was forced to renounce the throne on 12 November 1918.[2] Following the end of his rule the Principality of Lippe was transformed into a Free state in the new Weimar Republic.

Post abdication

After the rise of Nazism in Germany all three of his sons by his first wife became members of the party. His eldest son the Hereditary Prince Ernst is reported to have been the first German prince to join the party when he signed up in May 1928.[4]

In addition to being pro Nazis both Hereditary Prince Ernst and Prince Chlodwig had contracted unequal marriages. So in 1947 when Leopold wrote his will, Armin, his youngest son and only child with his second wife, would succeed him as head of the House of Lippe and also become administrator of the princely family's properties such as Schloss Detmold. Thus when Leopold died in Detmold his three eldest sons were all disinherited and his youngest son Armin became head of the princely house.[5]

Marriages and children

Leopold was married to Princess Bertha of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld (1874–1919) on 16 August 1901 in Rotenburg. They had five children.

He was married secondly to Princess Anna of Ysenburg and Büdingen (1886–1980) on 26 April 1922 at Büdingen. From this marriage he had one son.



  1. "Lippe Principality Defies The Kaiser". New York Times. 1904-10-06. p. 9.
  2. 1 2 Almanach de Gotha (179th ed.). Justus Perthes. 1942. p. 76.
  3. "Laborers Stone Prices". New York Times. 1911-06-04. p. 4.
  4. Petropoulos, Jonathan (2006). Royals and the Reich: The Princes Von Hessen in Nazi Germany. Oxford University Press. p. 98. ISBN 0-19-516133-5.
  5. Beéche, Arturo E. (October 2006). "A Headless House? The Dynastic Dispute of the House of Lippe". European Royal History Journal (LIII): 14, 15.
Leopold IV, Prince of Lippe
Born: 30 May 1871 Died: 30 December 1949
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Count Ernest II
Regent of Lippe
26 September 1904 – 25 October 1905
End of Regency
became Prince
Preceded by
Prince Alexander
Prince of Lippe
25 October 1905 – 12 November 1918
Monarchy abolished
Titles in pretence
Loss of title
Prince of Lippe
12 November 1918 – 30 December 1949
Succeeded by
Prince Armin
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