Highness is a salutation to a princely personality who was in the simple form of ruling German dukes and - enriched with the addition of imperial or royal - is used for members of correspondingly ruling (or previously ruling ) houses .
The salutation "Highness"
The use of the word as a salutation is the Germanization of the French salutation "Altesse"; this was common - in various degrees ("Royale", "Sérénissime") - for members of ruling houses when the French language became the lingua franca of the European nobility and diplomacy in the second half of the 17th century . Previously, forms of address such as Hochgeboren or Your Highness were common in the German language for princely persons , while Majesty has always been the address for emperors and kings.
In the German version, the Informal limited sovereignty initially to prince and princesses of royal houses. Since 1844, the ruling dukes in the German Confederation and from 1871 in the German Empire called themselves that. Equivalents in other languages are Highness ( English ), Altezza ( Italian ), and Alteza ( Spanish ).
In the German-speaking area, the following levels had to be distinguished:
Imperial and Royal Highness for
- the Archdukes of Austria (House of Habsburg-Lothringen )
- the Crown Prince of the German Empire and of Prussia 1871-1918. After the death of the last Crown Prince in 1951, his son (and successor as head of the House of Hohenzollern) Louis Ferdinand of Prussia took over this address (not officially, but socially), according to his own admission, not out of monarchist ambition , but out of respect for - through the German Empire was established - historical unity of the Germans .
- Imperial Highness for
Your Royal Highness for
- the princes of Prussia , Bavaria , Württemberg , Saxony ( Albertine line ) and Hanover (i.e. members of the ruling German royal houses alongside the Habsburgs )
- ruling grand dukes inside and outside the German Empire (until today in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg )
- the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his family (since 1893)
(As ruling princes of the ducal rank, the Coburgs were only entitled to the title of Highness . However, in 1893, Alfred, a son of the British Queen Victoria and her husband Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha ascended the Coburg-Gotha throne, he and his relatives were entitled to be addressed as British princes.)
- the head of the former electoral house of Hesse-Kassel (Landgrave of Hesse)
- Grand Ducal Highness for
- Ruling dukes of the German Confederation or Empire and the members of their houses (e.g. Nassau , Anhalt , Saxony-Meiningen )
- the Prince of Hohenzollern and his wife (as a result of royal Prussian ceremony in individual cases), the other family members of the Swabian Hohenzollern were considered Highness addressed (the latter salutation was reigning and non-reigning princes to and members of their homes, such as today in Liechtenstein )
On the other hand, morganatic spouses of kings, royal princes, grand dukes or dukes were not entitled to appropriate salutations; instead, they received lower-ranking morganate titles with appropriate salutations. The same also applied to the other agnates of such houses, provided that they did not marry in accordance with house laws or came from such connections ( mesalliances ).
After the abolition of the privileges of the nobility in 1919 , "Highness" is no longer an official address in Germany, but is still used in some circles for the members of the corresponding houses of the nobility , either as an oral or written address , out of courtesy or respect . On letterheads , it is customary to add the salutations in the line above the name in an abbreviated version, e.g. HRH (for His Royal Highness ) for male addressees or IKH for female addressees. In the case of married couples, doubling the letters of the female variant is used to mark the plural, for example the abbreviation IIKKHH for "Your Royal Highnesses".
For the Austrian nobility the Nobility Repeal Act of 1919 applies , which even deleted the previous nobility titles as part of their names; the same applies to the Bohemian or Italian nobility ; private use remained unaffected. In the existing monarchies, however , the salutations are still mandatory or at least generally customary and mostly also entered in the passports of the members of the royal houses.