October 8, 1926 – Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis
How very curious that this writer, an anti-monarchist should find such pleasure in researching the lives of royal families, with a special interest in the queer royals. I just love a queen who is a prince; even more delightful when they are also a kraut.
Openly bisexual Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis was the richest man in Germany and its largest landowner.
Because of his anti-Nazi activities, his father, Prince Karl August (1898 – 1982) was imprisoned in a Gestapo prison from 1944 to 1945. After the death of his older brother Prince Franz Josef in 1971, Karl August at 73 years old, became Head of the House of Thurn and Taxis (note to self: House of Turnin’ Taxis, as a ball house name). He supported the preservation of the cultural-historical heritage of the House of Thurn and Taxis. After his death in 1982, his son Prince Johannes inherited his vast fortune held in banks, breweries, enormous land holdings in Brazil, huge amounts of private forest lands in Germany, extensive fine art collections and eleven palaces and castles.
The 53-year-old bachelor prince resided in his 500-room St. Emmeram Palace 60 miles northeast of Munich, where his family had lived since 1748.
In the 15th century his ancestors developed a European postal system that earned them a great fortune. Soon the postal coaches began accepting paying passengers. We now have the term ”taxi” from his family’s venture. For over 300 years the family held a monopoly on the postal system of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Thurn und Taxis dynasty has a straight line to the 12th century Italian Dukes de la Torre, of Bergamo. The Italian word Torre (tower) became Thurn, and Tasso (badger) became Taxis.
Unlike his anti-fascist father, during World War II Johannes worked for the Nazi propaganda machine and was imprisoned by the British from 1945 to 1947. For the next 35 post-war years, he kept a low profile among his royal and noble peers. But after the 1982 death of his father, he became the billionaire family’s full inheritor, and he began to spend money like it would never run out. His palace was furnished with 400 clocks, maintained by a full-time servant whose only task was to wind them. The hundreds of windows were washed weekly. Johannes retained 70 footmen and parked his 20 cars in his heated garage.
His idea was of fun was nightly trolling of the gay bars in Munich. He was a fixture in the 1980s gay scene in Germany’s second largest city. Extravagantly bisexual, he was known for some highly unusual tastes. Just think what a surprise it must have been when he announced he was going to marry his impoverished, aristocratic fourth cousin, Countess Gloria Schönburg-Glachau, a high school dropout and onetime waitress. She was 34 years younger than her prince. She was 20 years old and three months pregnant when they married in spring 1980. She wore a Valentino dress and a diamond diadem that had belonged to Marie Antoinette. At the time of their marriage Johannes was worth $3 billion. Upon their marriage she became Princess of Thurn and Taxis.
The couple had three children. With two daughters, Johannes could not breathe a sigh of relief until Albert Maria Lamoral Miguel Johannes Gabriel, their only son, arrived in 1983. Before his birth, Johannes had a pressing inheritance problem. According to tradition, his wife had to be a noble descendant of the Holy Roman Empire who would bear him a son. Otherwise his fortune would be splintered into numerous fractions. When the prince ran into his distant cousin in a Munich nightclub, he knew what he must do. Gloria not only fit the bill of proper lineage; she was willing to accept his attraction to other men. It was a win-win situation; she was rescued from poverty, and he would be able to keep his vast wealth intact.
The couple lived a life of debauchery, a wild, hedonistic jet-set lifestyle. Gloria drove around town on a lipstick red Harley-Davidson. She sported outrageous clothing, makeup and hairdos, and she proudly held the moniker: Princess ”T-N-T”.
Her own parents, both titled Europeans, fled to Africa just after World War II to escape the advancing Soviets, leaving everything behind. Although a member of the German nobility, her family had little wealth as a result of Communism in East Germany and Hungary. Her family’s ancestral home, Rochsburg Castle, was seized by the Russians in 1945. She moved back to Germany with her family in 1970.
Princess TNT” was striking figure. Referred to in the media as the “Punk Princess”, she was known for mixing formal wear with the kaleidoscope color changes of her mohawk hair. At her 25th birthday party at a New York club she danced on tables in a Paco Rabanne chainmail dress that cost $20,000. She cut a wide swath through 1980s society, making friends with artists Keith Haring and Jeff Koons, and throwing a series of extravagant parties. Gloria rode her four Harley-Davidson motorcycles, hung out with Prince and with hookers in Hamburg, was arrested at an airport for possession of marijuana, and once did a barking-dog impression live on American television.
In 1986 she spent $20 million on a three-day 60th birthday party for Johannes, ending with a costume ball held at their palace, where Gloria appeared as Marie Antoinette. She ordered a birthday cake lit by 60 pink, penis-shaped candles, a not-very-subtle hint at her husband’s favorite ride. 500 guests had been flown in on private jets to enjoy days of debauchery. Mick Jagger, J. Paul Getty Jr. and Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi were among the guests.
When her husband died in 1990, Gloria was left to settle his half a billion-dollar debts. She sold off family property including jewelry, castles, cars, and land to preserve the family fortune. She took a spiritual pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France and came back a sober Roman Catholic activist.
She still lives the good life, with lavish homes in New York City, Rome, Kenya and Germany. She is still capable of controversy; she claimed in 2001 that Africa has a high rate of HIV/AIDS because ”blacks like to copulate a lot ”, adding that the heat in Africa makes everyone horny.
She also works closely with conservative Catholic leaders including Steve Bannon in opposition to the agenda of Pope Francis. Her castle in Germany was suggested by Bannon as a site for a school to educate and train right-wing Catholics. She is also a good friend of Hillary Clinton, one of a dozen women to attend her 2016 birthday party. Gloria opposes marriage equality, sex education and reproductive rights for women. Helena Bonham Carter must play her in a film about this family.
Her son is a six-foot four-inch, 36-year-old “bachelor”. He is fabulously wealthy and professional race car driver. Prince Albert lives is the largest home in Europe still maintained by a princely family. It even contains a throne room. He has no princess and no heir. For a peek inside his house, check out this feature on World of Wonder writer Trey Speegle‘s fab website.