“You can see here the inhumane conditions that these princesses were kept in,” says Strauß, pointing at the cages. “And of course, those were only the ones that met the breed standard. Those that didn’t were more often than not drowned.”

The castle in Bad Neustadt, raided by authorities last month as part of a wider crackdown on princess mills, had been producing pureblooded princesses of the Glückstadt and Coburg lines, mostly for use as mail-order brides. “You see it all the time,” Strauß continues. “A formerly great noble house, with not much land or money but some brand recognition, falling prey to breeders. Before you know it, the ancestral castle is a princess mill.”

Though royalists have long insisted that those looking for a prince or princess “adopt, don’t shop,” the situation in Bad Neustadt is far from unique. Authorities seized a princeling mill that was cranking out members of a minor cadet branch of the Lao royal family in Myanmar last year, and a number of Scottish clans have been accused of a similar practice.

“I hate to say it, but as long as people want to marry into noble blood, these princess mills will continue,” says Strauß, noting that the practice goes back at least as far as the infamous Saxe-Coburg-Gotha princeling mill.”

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