The King and Queen of Belgium have joined European nobility at the funeral of a German duke who died in his vintage Porsche.
Duke Friedrich of Württemberg, 56, was killed in a crash earlier this month as he tried to overtake a tractor on a rural road in south-western Germany.
The duke, who was distantly related to the British royal family through a fourth great-grandfather of the Queen, was the heir to the House of Württemberg, one of Germany’s many defunct monarchies.
The two families were also related through the Queen’s grandmother, Mary of Teck, who was born into a branch of the Württemberg dynasty.
Some 2,000 people went to his Catholic funeral today in Altshausen, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, including current head of state King Philippe of Belgium and his wife Queen Mathilde.
King Philippe of Belgium and his wife, Queen Mathilde, attend the funeral of the German duke Friedrich of Württemberg
The King and Queen of Belgium, both dressed in black, hold hands at the funeral of the German Duke of Württemberg
Duke Friedrich of Württemberg’s widow, Duchess Marie (left) and his heir Duke Wilhelm (centre) at the funeral today
The Duke’s widow Duchess Marie and his eldest son Duke Wilhelm at the funeral service in Germany today
Duchess Elizabeth of Bavaria, who belongs to a royal house linked to the Jacobites, and her husband Daniel Terberger
Who was Friedrich, Duke of Württemberg?
Friedrich was born in 1961 at Friedrichshafen castle in south Germany, one of the properties belonging to the former royal house.
He served in the German Army after leaving school and reached the rank of colonel in the reserves.
In 1993 he married now-Duchess Marie, who was born in Munich and descended from a different former royal family.
His father Carl, 81, remains head of the house of Württemberg.
Friedrich was the eldest of six siblings. His sisters Mathilde and Fleur and brothers Eberhard, Phillipp and Michael are all still living.
Also present were the descendants of other former German royal families, including a Duchess of Bavaria. The Bavarian royal family are regarded as the heirs to the Jacobite pretenders in Britain.
Other representatives of defunct royal families included an Archduke and Archduchess of Austria, descended from the Habsburg family, as well as a Prince of Baden who is related to Britain’s Prince Philip.
There was room for 420 mourners in the church, while spectators watched a broadcast of the service in a tent or from a gallery in the castle where the family lives, the German newspaper Bild reported.
The church then opened to locals, who had been watching the service on a big screen, to pay their respects.
Friedrich leaves his wife, Marie, Duchess of Württemberg, and three grown children, Duke Wilhelm, 23, Duchess Marie-Amélie, 22, and Duchess Sophie-Dorothée, 20.
The last King of Württemberg, Wilhelm II – not the former German emperor – was removed from office in 1918 when all the German monarchies were abolished at the end of World War I.
Police said Friedrich died in a head-on collision while overtaking a tractor in his Porsche, having failed to notice the oncoming driver.
At the time of the crash the Duke’s family said they were ‘deeply shaken’.
Bernhard, Prince of Baden, who is related to Britain’s Prince Philip, at the funeral with his wife Princess Stephanie
King Philippe of Belgium and his wife Queen Mathilde of Belgium attended the ceremony for the German duke
Archduke Michael and Archduchess Christiana of Austria, descendants of a branch of the Habsburg family, at today’s funeral
Prince Alois of Liechtenstein and his wife, Duchess Sophie in Bavaria, pictured at the German duke’s funeral
Andreas, Prince of Leiningen, and his wife Princess Alexandra, the heir to a line created by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1779
Albrecht, the Prince of Oettingen-Spielberg, a noble family in the same state of Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany
King Philippe of Belgium and Queen Mathilde of Belgium were among the European nobility to attend the German funeral
Prince Albert of Thurn und Taxis, the billionaire heir to a dynasty dating back to the Holy Roman Empire
The Duke, pictured, was killed in a car crash earlier this month when trying to overtake a tractor in his vintage Porsche
The scene after the crash in Ebenweiler, Baden-Württemberg, where the Duke was killed while overtaking a tractor
They said: ‘Friedrich Duke of Württemberg headed the Hofkammer of the House of Württemberg, the private administration of the house.
‘Through his extensive commitment, he has been very involved in many social and cultural institutions in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
‘The ducal family and the entire House of Württemberg are deeply shaken.’
The other driver and his two passengers were taken to hospital with minor injuries. Duke Friedrich’s son, Wilhelm, will succeed him as heir to the house.
The House of Württemberg also retains its castles at Monrepos, Altshausen and Friedrichshafen.