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Serene Highness (acronym HSHHis Serene Highness or Her Serene Highness) is a style used today by the reigning families of Monaco and Liechtenstein. It also preceded the princely titles of members of some German ruling families until 1918, and it was also the form of address used for cadet members of the dynasties of France, Italy, Russia and Ernestine Saxony under their monarchies.

In a number of older English dictionaries, serene as used in this context means supreme, royal, august, or marked by majestic dignity or grandeur or high or supremely dignified. The style Serene Highness has an antiquity equal to that of Highness. However, in some, excluding the Latin language countries, Highness was considered a higher treatment than Serene Highness.

Contents

Mistranslation

The English style Serene Highness is a mistranslation of the German style Durchlaucht because Highness translates as Hoheit, which is the higher style, used for dukes. If retranslated, Serene Highness would be Durchlauchtige Hoheit. Seine Durchlauchtigste Hoheit (engl.: His Most Serene Highness) was the style of the princes-electors of the Holy Roman Empire. The correct translated style of a (former German) reigning prince would be (the not existing) His/Her Serenity.

Monaco

The reigning Prince of Monaco, Albert II, is addressed as His Serene Highness. His sister Princess Stéphanie and paternal aunt Princess Antoinette are also referred to as Her Serene Highness. Another sister Princess Caroline was also styled Her Serene Highness prior to her 1999 marriage, but is styled Royal Highness since then. In French, both male and female versions are Son Altesse Sérénissime (S.A.S.), which translates, literally, as "His/Her Most Serene Highness".

German-speaking lands

The current, legal usage of the style in the German-speaking countries is confined to the princely House of Liechtenstein, the entirety of which bears the treatment.

The German term is Durchlaucht, a translation of the Latin (su)perillustris. This is usually translated into English as Serene Highness, however, it would be more literal to translate it as superior to, above, beyond or greater than illustrious, as it is an augmentation of Erlaucht ("illustrious"), which was borne by counts of the Holy Roman Empire and, later, of the German Empire. More humorously, the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica suggested another perfectly logical English version, "Your Transparency," based on a literal translation of German "durch," which can also mean "through," or "more thoroughly," and "-laucht," as in "Erlaucht" (illustrious), meaning radiant---in other words, something that lets light through: something transparent.

In Germany, the style of Serene Highness was usually held by princes of lower rank than those who were entitled to Highness (exceptions were the Wettin cadets of the Ernestine duchies), Grand Ducal Highness, Royal Highness, and Imperial Highness. Therefore, if a woman entitled to the treatment of Royal Highness married a man who was addressed only as Serene Highness, the woman usually retained her pre-marital style.

In 1905 Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria granted the style of Durchlaucht to virtually every prince of the former Holy Roman Empire, even if their family had never exercised sovereignty.

In the German and Austrian empires of the 19th and 20th centuries, the style Serene Highness was also officially borne by:

Hohenzollern (yielded sovereignty to Hohenzollern kinsman, the King of Prussia, in 1848)
Lippe
Reuss
Schaumburg-Lippe
Schwarzburg (now extinct)
Waldeck and Pyrmont

By tradition, Durchlaucht is still used by the princely dynasties which were sovereign until 1918. Various mediatized German princely families also use the style (unofficially since 1918).

France

There is some evidence that in pre-Revolutionary France, one entitled to be addressed as Serene Highness was considered to outrank someone who was merely addressed as Highness. Those members of the royal family who were not children or grandchildren of a king, i.e., the princes du sang, were entitled to be addressed as Most Serene Highness.[3] The simple style of Highness ("altesse") was claimed by the princes étranger. In fact, these formal styles were seldom employed in conversation, since the princes du sang used unique styles (e.g. Mademoiselle, Monsieur le Prince), while the ducal peers avoided conceding the altesse to the princes étrangers, prompting nobles of lesser rank to do likewise.[4]

Italy

Children of the Savoy kings and crown princes of Italy were entitled to the treatment of Royal Highness, but more remote descendants in the male-line were Serene Highnesses by right (although often the style of Royal Highness was granted to them ad personam, e.g. the Dukes of Aosta, Dukes of Genoa.[5]

The mediatised House of Thurn and Taxis, entitled to the Serene Highness treatment in the German Empire, had a non-dynastic branch which obtained naturalisation in Italy in the 20th century. When incorporated into the Italian nobility, their use of the Serene Highness style was authorised by the Crown.

In the Republic of Venice, also called "the Serene Republic", the Doge was known as Serenissimus ("Most Serene").[3]

Russia

After 1886, great-grandchildren of Russian emperors in the male-line, and their descendants, were princes or princesses, and accorded the treatment of Serene Highness. The exception was the senior male by primogeniture in the patrilineal descent of each great-grandson, who retained the higher style of Highness.[6]

Strictly, the Russian term, Svetlost, was an honorific used in adjectival form (Svetleyshiy) to refer to members of a select few of Russia's princely families (e.g. "The Serene Prince Anatoly Pavlovich Lieven"). However, when translated into non-Slavic languages and used in reference to a member of the imperial Romanov family, it was usually rendered as Serene Highness.

Thailand

With Mom Sujarinee Mahidol na Ayudhaya:

  • HSH Prince Juthavachara Mahidol, born August 29, 1979
  • HSH Prince Vacharaeson Mahidol, born May 27, 1981
  • HSH Prince Chakriwat Mahidol, born February 26, 1983
  • HSH Prince Vacharawee Mahidol, born June 14, 1985
  • HSH Princess Busya Nambejira Mahidol (later changed to Siriwanwari), born January 8, 1987. Elevated to HRH Princess Siriwannawari Nariratana by royal command on June 15, 2005.

United Kingdom

Queen Victoria elevated all of the princes who married her daughters to Royal Highness (except for Crown Prince Friedrich of Prussia, husband of the Victoria, Princess Royal, who already possessed the HRH). This included HSH Prince Henry of Battenberg, husband of Princess Beatrice.[7] That couple's children, born Serene Highnesses, were granted the style of Highness by their British grandmother.

Several morganatic branches of reigning German dynasties took up residence in the United Kingdom in the 19th century, where their German princely titles and style of Serene Highness were recognized by the sovereign. Included in this group were Princess Edward of Saxe-Weimar, Princess Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenberg, the dukes and princes of Teck (Mary of Teck, George V's queen consort, was Her Serene Highness as a princess of Teck), and the Princes of Battenberg (Princess Andrew of Greece, mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was "Her Serene Highness" prior to marriage). The Tecks descended from the royal house of Württemberg, and the Battenbergs descended from the Grand Dukes of Hesse and by Rhine.

During World War I, King George V revoked recognition of the style Serene Highness, hitherto used by some relatives of the British Royal Family who possessed German princely titles, but were British subjects. These were the Dukes and Princes of Teck and the Princes of Battenberg, who were compensated with peerages, viz. Marquess of Cambridge and Earl of Athlone for the Tecks, and Marquess of Milford Haven and Marquess of Carisbrooke for the Battenbergs.

Belgium

The following titleholders or families are authorised by the Crown to use the style Serene Highness:[8]

  • Dukes and princes of Arenberg
  • Dukes of Beaufort-Spontin
  • Dukes and princes of Croÿ
  • Princes of Habsburg (archducal cadets resident in Belgium)
  • Princes of Lobkowicz (resident in Belgium)
  • Dukes and princes of Looz-Corswarem
  • Dukes of Ursel

Hungary

Before 1947, the style His/Her Serene Highness (Ő Főméltósága, literally: "His/Her High Dignity") was in use in Hungary. Princes were entitled to use it, and between 1920 and 1944 the regent, Miklós Horthy, was styled as His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary (Ő Főméltósága a Magyar Királyság Kormányzója).

Portugal

As the most powerful noble family in Portugal, the Dukes of Braganza had the official treatment of Serene Highness until 1640, when they mounted the Portuguese throne, thereby becoming entitled to the style of Royal Highness.

Mexico

From 1853 to 1855 the president of Mexico, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, enjoyed the official style of Most Serene Highness, a treatment unique in that country.

Agustin I de Mexico used that title also.

Spain

In 1807 Manuel de Godoy, Prince de la Paz, was accorded the style of Most Serene Highness, a treatment unique in that country.

The style (Spanish: El Serenísimo Señor) is one of the styles of the infants.

Sources

  1. ^ Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1944), pages 111-113, 115
  2. ^ Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1944), pages 73,94,97,98,121,124,126
  3. ^ a b Velde, François. "Royal Styles and the uses of "Highness"". Heraldica.org. http://www.heraldica.org/topics/royalty/highness.htm. Retrieved 1-3-2009.  
  4. ^ Spanheim, Ézéchiel (1973). ed. Emile Bourgeois. ed (in French). Relation de la Cour de France. le Temps retrouvé. Paris: Mercure de France. pp. 107–108.  
  5. ^ Christoph Franke, ed (1997) (in German). Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels Fürstliche Häuser Band XV. Limburg an der Lahn: C. A. Starke. pp. 33–41.  
  6. ^ Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1944), page 104
  7. ^ Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1944), pages 49
  8. ^ Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1944), pages 170,190,248,372.

See also

External links

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