Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

Part 138, Chapter 2381
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Eighty-One

21st June 1975

Krakow, Kingdom of Galicia-Ruthenia

The wedding ceremony had been a muddled affair taking place in front of the Cloth Hall in Krakow’s Main Square with everyone who wanted to be involved having a place in the proceedings, within reason. That was why it had been officiated no less than six representatives from the major religious denominations found within the Kingdom. They had painstakingly negotiated just who was going to say what and when over the prior months. Then the procession went out into the streets where it was mobbed by tens of thousands of people until the police cleared the streets enough to get it moving to the castle where the reception was going to be.

What astonished Kiki was just how much love these people had for her sister. Originally, she had been suggested to be Queen as a means of helping Galicia preserve its independence and perhaps to have a uniting figure as the various factions had turned to squabbling at the end of the Polish War. That was where Ria and Olli Bauer had entered the picture. They had read the draft constitution that had been proposed, seen the direction that things had been going and had gotten ahead of it. Mostly comprised of things that had worked in other places with a special emphasis on religious freedom and recognition of the different parts of the diverse population. How else were they going to prevent a small kingdom comprised of a number of different ethnicities and religions from killing each other? Most of all, that vast majority of the people wanted peace regardless of background and Ria had found that they were the ones most receptive to her ideas.

Sitting in the back of the lead car with the new Royal Consort, no one was quite sure what exactly to call Lars yet. Ria was waving to the crowd as they passed. Kiki could see her from the car behind as she held Louis with Nina peeking out the window at the people as Ben kept trying to get her to take the middle seat. In front of her, Marie Alexandra was in the front passenger seat, not wanting to ride with her family as she had gotten into an argument with her mother. Something about how Marie’s social phobias had gotten worse over the first year at University. Kat wanted her to get help, which Marie felt was unnecessary. As far as Marie was concerned, being too frightened to talk when approached by strangers had kept her out of trouble.

While that was an interesting take on the situation, Kiki disagreed, but knew that Kat’s confrontational approach usually had the exact opposite effect with her daughters. Last year, Kat had gotten into a shouting match with Tatiana over the family plans for the summer. Tat had gone backpacking with her friends in Spain while everyone else had gone to Montreal. They had hardly been on speaking terms for months afterwards according to Sophie, who delighted in talking with Kiki about the goings on in Kat’s house. Sophie had also mentioned that Angelica, the youngest girl in Kat’s household had been having a difficult time lately. Kiki figured that she should probably get to know Angelica before there was an issue that Kat would also be asking for help with.


Riding in the lead car, a stretched Mercedes limousine, Louis Ferdinand looked at Marie Cecilia who was seated next to Lars as she waved to the crowd through the open rearmost window. Called Ria by everyone since she was a baby after her older sister shortened it from Marie. Today, wearing the wedding dress he could see how strongly she favored Kira. It was also nice that for once the oldest of his twin daughters from his first marriage had not bucked convention. Lars seemed like a solid man despite feeling obligated to help advance his father’s vision. Of course, Louis understood that as he had gotten to know Ria he had spent less time on Bornholm.

“I think that your mother would have liked this” Louis said to Ria who just shrugged.

“She would have made a comment about my hair” Ria said, “She couldn’t help herself.”

Charlotte said nothing. She had known that Louis was a widower at the time she had met him and that complications from the six stepchildren had been a part of the package. She occasionally heard about Kira in that context, and she had told Louis that that it was sort of hard to be jealous.

Antonia and Annette were a part of the wedding party this time and they were sitting next to their mother. Louis had been a bit shocked at the idea of them being two young women having just turned sixteen earlier that month. Kiki had also mentioned that Nina, Louis’ granddaughter was starting school in just a couple months. How exactly had that happened?

With that the procession entered the carpark outside Wawel Castle where the reception was going to take place. Below the castle there was a festival for those not invited to the reception in the park on the bank of the river. From the sound of it, the festival had already started. Getting out of the car following Lars and Ria, Louis saw that the other cars of the procession were pulling in so that they could drop off their passengers and park elsewhere in the city. Vicky, rushing ahead of her family, rushed up and was talking excitedly to Ria in the private language that the two of them had used since infancy. It seemed that time really had healed old wounds. Lars shuffled nervously as Franz, Crown Prince of Bavaria just stepped up and shook his hand. With that, Lars and Ria entered the castle, followed by the others in the wedding party.
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The first test on how the "dispute" between Denmark and Lar's father plays out is when Lar's father is introduced at the reception, if he is introduced by his "Title" then that is going to make Denmark and their King very melancholy, and the German Kaiser is going have to do some damage control, but if Lars's father is introduced without any title or honorific except the Danish equivalent of "Mr.." then Ria has problems with her father-in-law straight off the bat.
Lars may think that having his father not being introduced as the Grand Duke of Bornholm may finally stop his father's Quixotic quest and maybe Ria could throw her new father-in-law a bone and make him the "Baron of Thisnthat".

Marie has always been more comfortable being around those who are older than her or younger, this is probably the first time in her life, not withstanding her Gymnasium days where she is primarily spending most of her time with her peer age group, which could be a little bit frightening for her.
Just to make sure, Lars is the duty-bound-Viking guy we get introduced to as a First Regiment soldier. With a father who created his viking-homestead in the wilderness?
Just to make sure, Lars is the duty-bound-Viking guy we get introduced to as a First Regiment soldier. With a father who created his viking-homestead in the wilderness?
No, different character.

That character is the brother of Mathilde, current ward of one Manfred von Richthofen and probably the future grounds keeper of the Richthofen nature preserve.

This Lars met Rea when his father sent him to try and drum up support for his dubious nobility claim, and they grew an interest out of a shared antipathy towards titles.
Part 138, Chapter 2382
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Eighty-Two

23rd June 1975


It was quiet in Louis’ stateroom aboard the Grindwal. More than usual anyway with most of the crew was ashore while the Technicians and key members of the ship’s personnel were busy upgrading the computer systems aboard the Grindwal. Louis Ferdinand Junior figured that giving all nonessential crew a week’s liberty was the best way to ensure that they would not be underfoot which would speed the process along. He didn’t even pretend to know how most of the computer systems worked. He knew how to use it, having taken the training course required whenever something new was added to SMS K024 as part of the continuing education required of the Command Staff aboard any ship of the Kaiserliche Marine. Electronic Countermeasures, Fire-Control, Radar, and so much more were all controlled by the computers. The idea that many of them were designed to react independently of the systems operator at times didn’t sit right with many of the Old Salts in the Fleet, but Louis understood the reasons why. In the sort of high threat environment that the Grindwal might find herself operating in, an action might need to be taken instantly. By the time a human operator figured it out, it might already be too late.

Isaak Lehr had been promoted and sent to take a Staff position until a Sea Command became available, so Louis was waiting for his replacement. He had grown used to having Lehr around as his XO and not having to worry about what might happen when he left the bridge. He just hoped that whoever got that slot next wouldn’t turn out to be a constant pain in the ass. In the meantime, Borchardt was acting Second in Command.

Louis had his typewriter out and he was typing his latest situation report for the Atlantic Fleet Headquarters. He detailed what was going on with the computers and the Technicians, mostly civilians from Zuse AG and Naval Research AG. The Ship’s Purser would need to include the invoices when the entire report was submitted. The trouble was that the Ship’s Yeoman, Alex Mogens, was one of those who was presently ashore and so Louis would need to wait to do that.

“A moment of your time, Sir” Oberdeckoffizer Greg Borchardt said, standing in the doorway.

As the Captain of a ship the size of the Grindwal, Louis was the only one who had a stateroom to himself. It wasn’t much bigger than a typical closet. The bed was steel frame with a canvas base lashed to it and a 35-millimeter cotton mattress, both of which had been soaked with fire retardant before they were issued. It was same bed that everyone else aboard slept on. It even folded against the wall when not in use, the same as every other bunk on the ship, so that Louis could sit at the small desk and use the typewriter. There was also a locker for his personal effects, a file cabinet and the ship’s safe. The key difference though was that he had it entirely to himself.

Every other member of the crew slept, ate, and lived their lives within the tight spaces of the Corvette’s common areas. Only the Officer’s Wardroom, Ship’s Galley, the Enlisted Mess, and the Ship’s Heads were not regularly converted into sleeping quarters. Nearly every available centimeter was used for storage as well. All of that meant that Louis was the only man aboard whose permission Borchardt needed ask for before entering.

“I think I have a minute” Louis replied looking at the page in the typewriter. “I went to my sister’s wedding, no one did a damned thing while I was away, and now I’m playing catch up. The most obnoxious part is that I could use Bootman Mogens presence about now, but he is nowhere to be found.”

Borchardt chuckled at that. He knew all about Alex Mogens’ reputation as a Sea Lawyer and all-round reprobate, but he also knew that Mogens was most useful when he put those skills to service for the Grindwal herself.

“You aren’t going to find him” Borchardt replied, “That rat knows every hole he can crawl into in the city. It comes from being the child of a Sailor. He grew up here, in Wilhelmshaven and on the Jade, you know.”

While Louis hadn’t known that. It did explain a great deal.

“What did you want though?” Louis asked.

“We got the new batch in” Borchardt replied handing Louis a dark blue American style ballcap. This one had the usual SMS K024 Grindwal in gold letters, it also had an embroidered representation of a pilot whale that was identical to the one painted on the side of the forward superstructure as well.

“Looks like someone went all out” Louis remarked.

“One of the men’s wives did it” Borchardt replied, “They felt that the lead ship of the Squadron needed something special. The outfit ashore that makes those hats were able to copy it.”

That was Louis’ understanding. There was a company in Wilhelmshaven that had started making the hats for ship’s crews at first. Then they discovered that people were interested in them as collectables.

“What’s this business with us being the lead ship?” Louis asked.

“That’s the latest scuttlebutt” Borchardt said, “That Fleet has finally decided to promote you, official word has not come down yet.”

“I see” Louis replied. He just hoped that Borchardt understood the implications of that. As a Kapitan-zur-See Louis would likely lead a Squadron of Corvettes. The trouble was that as a newly minted Captain, Louis would get the worst assignments. As in picket duty listening for American Submarines in the Denmark Strait during the wintertime or something equally unpleasant.
I think that we are beginning to see the sidelining of Louis Ferdinand Jr's career in the KLM, yes, he is getting promoted but it is to be the Squadron Commander of Corvettes and not to others ships like destroyers or Cruisers.
He is also not getting any important staff jobs at either OKM or OKW, nor is he getting an important Instructor post at the Naval Academy that leads to major command slots.
He is also not getting any assignments to be the Naval Attaché at an important country like Great Britain, Russia, Italy, or the United States.
Louis Ferdinand Jr's superiors maybe telling him that there is an opening to be the Admiral of the Romanian Navy, all he has to say is "I Do".
Wonder what's the composition of the KLM right now? Is it what Jacob Schmidt had envisioned a couple decades earlier, based around Nuclear Carriers?
Part 138, Chapter 2383
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Eighty-Three

1st July 1975


With the new Government in place, Freddy found himself meeting with the Chancellor that the Governing coalition had decided on, Heinz Kissinger, and he was already wishing that the old Chancellor were still in office. But like what so often happened, Freddy had to do many unpleasant things as Emperor. That included meeting with the new Chancellor and tolerating that odious toad he kept as an aide. If it wouldn’t have caused too much trouble he would have had them both thrown out of the Summer Residence. The National Liberals collectively were of the opinion that there had been entirely too much military adventurism over the last thirty years and that the State needed to be minding its affairs closer to home. Freddy had realized in that moment that it wasn’t an accident that the Greeks had gone to war with their old enemies when they had. He also had the sinking feeling that inaction would come with a price this time.

Then Kissinger had brought up the subject of his brother’s recent promotion. That was not something which Freddy liked to talk about. Mostly because it was a reminder of the shadow that the previous century cast over his family. It wasn’t just Nicholas II of Russia who came to mind when people thought of inconvenient problematic monarchs these days. Freddy’s own Great Grandfather, Wilhelm II, was a close second in that unfortunate contest. In Government circles, it was widely believed that Wilhelm II could easily have caused a Communist revolution akin to the one which happened in Russia. If the First World had ended any differently. Things might have still gone bad if he had not retired when he had. Freddy’s earliest memories had been of Wilhelm II. An old man who had smelled of tobacco and drink. He had liked to tell Freddy adventure stories and had delighted in introducing him to military and industry leaders. There had been a lot of things which Freddy had not understood at the time. That Wilhelm had lost his son and successor in a sordid scandal and his namesake grandson had been killed in the Spanish War. He had decided that his name was unlucky and requested that the family never name a son Wilhelm in the future.

There was a concern which cut across all political lines was what might happen if Freddy, or whoever his successor might be, should ever find themselves at odds with the Reichstag. The Emperor was theoretically in charge of the Military, but the High Command wasn’t required to obey. That was where the careers of his siblings entered the picture. Both Kiki and Louis Junior had been seen as rising stars in their respective fields. Then they had run into an informal agreement which must have existed for decades. The concern that them rising to the level of Division or Army Command might lead to the creation of a Praetorian Guard, which would be a dagger aimed right at the Democratic aspects of Empire and the Constitutional controls placed on the Emperor. Neither Kiki nor Louis would be allowed to rise above a certain level as a control on Freddy.

Now Louis Junior had been promoted to Kapitan-zur-See and the Government was leaning on the Navy to make sure that he never saw another promotion. In the meantime, he had been assigned to the Eastern Mediterranean. It was a posting of critical importance, where a Squadron of Corvettes would probably be able to accomplish more there than either of the two active Carrier Groups or nine Guided-Missile Cruisers that the Navy had available. That meant that regardless of politics, the Fleet had faith in Louis’ abilities. Things were a bit easier with Kiki. She was presently on Maternity leave and that would defer any questions about her future until she came back next year.

Langeoog Island

Laying in the afternoon sun after swimming in the cold waters of the North Sea was a welcome shift after how she had started her Summer Holiday. It was still early in the season and a weekday, so she mostly had the beach to herself. She figured that doing this for a little bit wouldn’t hurt, she would need to go in soon. If she got a sunburn then it would be something else for Kiki to get on her case about.

It had been her mother’s idea. That Marie should spend a week or so out at the vacation house in the East Frisian Islands so that they could have some time to cool off. They had been at loggerheads over Marie being shy, her mother thought that it was an issue while she didn’t see what the problem was. It seemed like many times over the last year Marie had encountered people who it was simply not in her interest to know. Not talking to them and being as one newspaper in Montreal had put it, “A very private young woman” had saved her a great deal of grief.

Marie’s mother had convinced Petia to finally take a vacation and to take her granddaughter Darya with her. The detail that Marie was traveling with them to the same location was hardly material. Marie suspected that keeping an eye on her was the only way which Petia could have been convinced to take some time off.

With a bit of reluctance, Marie got up and brushed the sand off her body as she gathered her things. She could feel the salt dried to her skin as she walked back to the house and knew that she would need to shower before she did anything else.

Petia hardly looked up from her magazine as Marie entered.

“Having a good afternoon Grandmother” Marie said in Russian as she passed.

“I was until Darya got into her head to cook supper for us” Petia said. Marie knew that Petia was proud of how her granddaughter was working directly for Marie’s mother in her capacity as an Economist. As a cook though, Petia was of the opinion that Darya could burn salad.

“It’s just supper” Marie replied.

“I wish I shared your optimism” Petia said, “Herr Kennedy called again, he asked if you had thought any more about his offer.”

Marie didn’t react to that. Her mother’s friend Jack Kennedy had told her that he needed a translator who knew Chinese, and that be someone he could trust. If she were willing to take a few days from her holiday his Law Firm would generously compensate her for her time. She had said she would need to think about it.
Both Louis Ferdinand Jr. and Kiki won't like finding out that their careers in the German Military is coming to a standstill.
To be sure, LF Jr. will still be able to serve in the KLM, but it will be at the edges like being the new Commander of the Antarctic Station, or the HQ of a supply base in the German Pacific Islands, but never anything that will put him in contention for the top spot.
He will watch as his peers whom he out surpassed years ago are now getting the slots that in other circumstances should have gone to him.
LF Jr., if he still stays in the Navy may get promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral just before he retires, but he may want to find other options for himself.

Kiki, while declaring to anyone who will listen, that she had no ambition to be head of the JMS, she is lying to herself as her ego will take a hit as if she was really Kristina Fischer there would be no question that she would be the favorite for the head job in 10-15 years from now.
It is also notable that this is informal. There is now law on the books that say it should be so but there are probably some early versions of anti-discrimination laws on the books and given how those generally evolve they are most likely already at the point of banning discrimination for reason of social class or family background.

As such an informal ban would be pretty much violating those laws and be difficult to keep in place once the courts go looking. Hell, given the way Freddy already "likes" the current government he probably not inclined to dissuade his siblings from bringing such a case.
Both the SDP and the National Liberals have their own reasons to support a ban on any Imperial Prince (or Princess) from achieving high rank.
For the SPD they know if there was a Hohenzollern Prince in charge of the elements of the 4th Division in March of 1921, history would be a lot different ITTL.
For the National Liberals, they feel that Kaiser Louis Ferdinand was too close and supportive of Chancellor Lang for their liking and was instrumental in making the Langest era reforms more acceptable to the public.
With that in mind, the children of Louis Ferdinand may be suspect in the minds of the National Liberals.
As for the military, they know who signs the checks and it’s not the Hohenzollerns, so they will defer to the wishes of the Reichstag and will support the ban because it is in their best interest to do so.
Both the SDP and the National Liberals have their own reasons to support a ban on any Imperial Prince (or Princess) from achieving high rank.
For the SPD they know if there was a Hohenzollern Prince in charge of the elements of the 4th Division in March of 1921, history would be a lot different ITTL.
For the National Liberals, they feel that Kaiser Louis Ferdinand was too close and supportive of Chancellor Lang for their liking and was instrumental in making the Langest era reforms more acceptable to the public.
With that in mind, the children of Louis Ferdinand may be suspect in the minds of the National Liberals.
As for the military, they know who signs the checks and it’s not the Hohenzollerns, so they will defer to the wishes of the Reichstag and will support the ban because it is in their best interest to do so.
Ah, but germany is nation of laws. Any such ban would need to successfully achieve some impressive legalistic gymnastics to remain in place once challenged in court.
Or the informal becomes formal.

"Ok, you want to be a Rear Admiral? You'll need to sign these papers affirming your renouncment of all claims to royal title and re-acknowledge your first loyalty is to the Constitution and Rule of Law"
They may take a leaf out of the book of the modern OTL British Royals.

Prince Charles and Prince William knew that their military careers would be short, whether they liked it or not, because of their proximity to the throne.

Prince Edward had the balls to publicly state that the military was not for him.

Both Prince Andrew and Prince Henry (aka Harry) had longer careers in uniform because they were further down the line of succession, but even then, both were also aware that there were time limits on their continued active service. Both were then shunted into the reserves and a more ceremonial role.

This gives a template for handling the advancement of the military careers of Louis Jr. and Kiki.

Of the two, Kiki should be the less impacted by politics blocking her progress, because she is in the Medical Service, which normally places her outside the regular chain of command. While she is also technically still in the FSK, her health issues can easily be used to invalid her out of that branch. Kiki is also considering her own personal future, as she has been shown to realise that her dream of being a doctor will be subsumed by the increasing bureaucratic nature of her career as she rises through the ranks. Kiki wants to treat her patients, not endlessly shuffle paper.

Louis Jr. is the far more difficult of the two, however, Louis has also reached the stage of his career where an extended tour ashore may be in the works, while the Navy figures out what to do with the political pressure. He has demonstrated significant diplomatic skills, as shown in his encounters with the Greeks, Turks, Italians, British, Japanese and Americans. This suggests a possible diversion into Naval Intelligence as an operational analyst, or into the diplomatic corp, or even both, if he is appointed as a Naval Attache to a prestigious embassy posting. This could lead Louis Jr. being seconded to the Diplomatic Corp on a semi-permanent basis, possibly even becoming an ambassador himself. Another possibility for Louis Jr. is to be transferred into a oceanic research & exploration posting. Remember, one of the main reasons that he joined the Kaiserliche Marine was to see the world, specifically Antarctica, and to have adventures & explore. I can easily see him being assigned as Officer Commanding of Germany's Antarctic base (which is probably developing into a more prestigious posting by now) or an expition into the Arctic. Louis could also retire from active service and perform many of the same roles as a civilian. Louis could even become a proponent of ocean racing if he wanted too.

And then there is the Omega Option.

As mentioned earlier, Romania MAY be in need of an admiral, and all Louis Jr. has to do to get the job is say "I do."
Or the informal becomes formal.

"Ok, you want to be a Rear Admiral? You'll need to sign these papers affirming your renouncment of all claims to royal title and re-acknowledge your first loyalty is to the Constitution and Rule of Law"
I do not think that would fly actually. If all are equal before the law (and constitution) how can a law requiring a specific subset of people to affirm special loyalty oaths be constitutional? Keep in mind their oath, which every person entering the armed forces gives, when entering the armed forces should already be covering what you suggest.

Trying and forcing such a law and then losing the court cases might very well be the thing that cuts short the reign of Heinz "the bloody handed" Kissinger.