Members of European royal families attended the funeral of Prince Richard, held on Tuesday, 21 March 2016, at 2.00 pm at the Evangelische Stadtkirche Bad Berleburg.
HH Prince Richard’s son and heir, Prince Gustav, walked behind his father’s coffin, draped in the family’s flag, during the procession from the family home at Berleburg Castle to the Evangelische Stadtkirche Bad Berleburg.
Prince Richard’s widow Princess Benedikte of Denmark, led the mourners as they said farewell on a rainy day, including Queen Margrethe, Prince Henrik, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie.
Queen Silvia and Princess Madeleine of Sweden, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Norway’s Princess Märtha Louise, Princess Sarvath and her daughter Princess Surmaya from Jordon were among the 400 guests who attended the service.
King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece were also present.
Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg died unexpectedly on Monday, 13 March, aged 82, at his German home, with Prince Gustav by his side, whilst Princess Benedikte was visiting Denmark.
Reports said he had surgery for prostate cancer in 2003 and treatment for skin cancer in the past.
Prince Gustav inherits his father’s title and 15,000 hectares of forest grounds.
The flag at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen is said to be flying at half-mast as a sign of respect, after Princess Benedikte’s private secretary had released a statement on Monday, 13 March, saying the Prince had died “suddenly”.
The announcement is mentioned in our 17 March 2017 Podcast.
Prince Richard was born on 29 October 1934 at Giessen in Hesse, Germany.
His father, Prince Gustav Albrecht, 5th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, was a captain in the German army and was said to be killed in action on the eastern front during World War II. He was declared missing in 1944, but not legally declared dead until 1969.
Prince Richard’s mother was a Swedish-born duchess Margareta, who was friends with Queen Ingrid, Queen Margrethe and Princess Benedikte’s mother.
Margrethe returned to Sweden after the war, where the young Richard was raised by his maternal grandfather, Duke the Duke of Otranto, at Elghammar Castle. Prince Richard attended boarding schools in Viggbyholm and Sigtuna.
He returned to Germany to study forest science. He obtained his forestry diploma at the University of Göttingen in Hanover, before post-graduate training and passing a second forestry exam at the North Rhine Westphalian State Forestry Service.
Prince Richard, the head of the House of the Sayn-Wittegenstein-Berleburg, had married Princess Benedikte on 3 February 1968 in the Chapel at Fredensborg Palace, after they met during a visit to Holland.
They have three children: Gustav, Alexandra and Nathalie, and four grandchildren.
They were married for 49 years until Prince Richard’s untimely death.
Princess Benedikte’s children were not raised in Denmark so they are not in the line of succession.
Prince Richard and Princess Benedikte celebrated their Silver Wedding Anniversary in 1993.