|Duke of Bavaria|
Franz wearing the ceremonial robes of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, 2012
|Head of the House of Wittelsbach|
|Tenure||8 July 1996 – present|
|Predecessor||Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria|
|Heir presumptive||Prince Max, Duke in Bavaria|
|Born||14 July 1933|
Munich, Nazi Germany
|Father||Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria|
|Mother||Countess Maria Draskovich of Trakostjan|
Franz Bonaventura Adalbert Maria Herzog von Bayern (born 14 July 1933), commonly known by the courtesy title Duke of Bavaria, is the head of the House of Wittelsbach, the former ruling family of the Kingdom of Bavaria. His great-grandfather King Ludwig III was the last ruling monarch of Bavaria until deposed in 1918.
Franz was born in Munich. During the Second World War, the Wittelsbachs were anti-Nazi. The family initially left Nazi Germany for Hungary but were eventually arrested when Germany invaded the country in 1944. Franz was 11 at the time. He spent time in several Nazi concentration camps, including Sachsenhausen concentration camp, then Flossenbürg concentration camp and finally Dachau.
After the war, Franz was a student at the University of Munich and became a collector of modern art. Franz succeeded as head of the House of Wittelsbach, and as pretender to the Bavarian throne, on the death of his father in 1996. He lives at the Nymphenburg Palace in Munich and Berg Castle.
Franz was born on 14 July 1933 in Munich, the son of Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria, and his morganatic wife, Countess Maria Draskovich of Trakostjan of the House of Drašković, a Croatian noble family. On 18 May 1949, when Franz was 15, his grandfather Crown Prince Rupprecht recognised the marriage of Franz's parents as dynastic, and Franz became a prince of Bavaria.[ citation needed ]
The Wittelsbach dynasty were opposed to the Nazi regime in Germany, and in 1939, Franz's father took his family to Hungary. They lived in Budapest for four years before moving to their Castle at Sárvár in late 1943. In March 1944, Nazi Germany occupied Hungary, and on 6 October 1944 the entire family, including the 11-year-old Franz, were arrested. They were sent to a series of Nazi concentration camps, including Oranienburg and Dachau. At the end of April 1945, they were liberated by the United States Third Army.
After the war, Franz received his secondary education at the Benedictine Abbey of Ettal. He then studied business management at the University of Munich and in Zurich. Franz developed a passion for collecting modern art. Items from his private collection are on permanent loan to the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. He is also an honorary trustee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In 2016, he became the donor of the project of restoration of the Statue of St. John of Nepomuk in Divina, Slovakia, realised under auspices of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Slovakia. The project was honoured by patronage of Norodom Sihamoni, the king of Cambodia and Simeon II, the last tsar of Bulgaria. The project was completed in the year 2017.
Franz has never married. The heir presumptive to the headship of the House of Wittelsbach is his brother Prince Max, Duke in Bavaria. Because Max has five daughters but no sons, he is followed in the line of succession by his and Franz's first cousin Prince Luitpold and, in the next generation, by the latter's son Prince Ludwig Heinrich of Bavaria (b. 1982).
Franz is a direct descendant of the House of Stuart. Were it not for the Act of Settlement 1701, Franz would be the successor to the British crowns of the Stuart kings. His spokesman has, however, made it clear that this is a purely 'hypothetical' issue and not a claim that Franz pursues.
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