Paul Friedrich, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

by Scott Mehl

Paul Friedrich, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Grand Duke Paul Friedrich was born in Ludwigslust on September 15, 1800, the eldest son of Friedrich Ludwig, Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and his first wife, Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna of Russia. Paul Friedrich had one younger sister, as well as three half-siblings from his father’s second marriage:

His education began at home before studying in Geneva, Jena and Rostock. However, his studies came to an end when his father died in 1819, making Paul Friedrich heir-apparent to his grandfather. Having been a member of the Mecklenburg military since the age of 10, Paul Friedrich was appointed Major General in 1822. He was also created Major General in the Prussian Army following his marriage two years later. Beginning in 1830, he served as Inspector General of the Mecklenburg-Schwerin forces, and served until his accession in 1837.

Alexandrine with the couple’s two eldest children, 1825.

On May 25, 1822 in Berlin, Paul Friedrich married Princess Alexandrine of Prussia. She was the daughter of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and Princess Luise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. They had six children:

Paul Friedrich also had several children with his mistress, Countess Catarina Hauke. She was the sister of Julia Hauke, later Princess of Battenberg.

Paul Friedrich became Grand Duke upon his grandfather’s death on February 1, 1837. He moved the official Grand Ducal residence from Ludwigslust to Schwerin, and worked to improve the judicial system and the infrastructure of the Grand Duchy. Using his experience with the Prussian military, the Grand Duke made efforts to modernize the Mecklenburg-Schwerin military, basing many of his reforms on the Prussian forces. As his reign continued, he became more reclusive, often shunning his family and spending time quietly with his mistress.

Tomb of Grand Duke Paul Friedrich, in Schwerin Cathedral. photo: by Niteshift – Self-photographed, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3019662

Grand Duke Paul Friedrich died in Schwerin on March 7, 1842. Several weeks earlier, he had contracted a cold while helping to battle a great fire in Schwerin, and never recovered. Following his funeral later that month, he was buried in the Schwerin Cathedral.

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