In raids conducted across Germany, 25 people were detained on suspicion of planning to topple the government.
The group of far-right and ex-military leaders allegedly planned a "Day X" invasion of the Reichstag and takeover of power.
They assert that Heinrich XIII, a long-established aristocratic family member, was a significant player in their plot.
Federal authorities claim that he is one of two alleged ringleaders who are among those held in 11 German states.
There are rumors that the conspirators include the extremist "Reichsbürger" movement, also known as the "Citizens of the Reich," which has long been on the radar of the German police due to violent attacks and racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories.
They also reject the reality of contemporary Germany.
Other suspects are linked to the QAnon movement, which holds that their country is controlled by a mythical "deep state" of secretive forces.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser informed the Germans that law enforcement would employ all legal means "against the opponents of democracy."
The Reichsbürger group existed before the pandemic; they are not new. However, this scheme suggests greater dedication and radicalization, which may go hand in hand with the spread of pandemic misinformation online.
The abduction attempt on the German health minister, which was planned by a group connected to these individuals back in April, is the first proof that this group has close ties to COVID-19 conspiracy activities.
Conspiracy theories that claim COVID-19 and vaccines are part of evil plans to control populations are popular on Telegram groups affiliated with "citizens of the Reich."
There are posts concerning QAnon, the vast US conspiracy theory that has ties to the protests on Capitol Hill on January 6th, as well as misinformation about the conflict in Ukraine.
Individuals support the "Sovereign Citizens" movement, which essentially holds the belief that they are exempt from governmental regulations.
In the end, this group has appropriated a variety of conspiracy theories that promote the notion that evil cabals are attempting to rule our lives and must be overthrown.
To a normal person, it could seem like a very absurd plot, yet it serves as a crucial symbol.
Anti-vaccine violence and rioting at the US Capitol were examples of offline actions that were linked to online hate and deception in the past.
However, this serves as a warning that despite the pandemic's easing in some regions of the world, its conspiracy legacy endures and might inspire obscure fringe organizations to take action in the real world.
The organization, which purportedly conspired to topple the republic and replace it with a new state modeled after Germany in 1871—an empire known as the Second Reich—is thought to have included about 50 men and women.
We don't yet have a name for this organization, said a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor's office. It looks to be made up of a military branch and a group termed a "council," according to the interior minister.
According to reports, the dawn raids on Wednesday were one of the largest counter-extremism operations in German history up to that point.
In 11 of Germany's 16 states, 3,000 cops participated in 150 operations, while two people were detained in Austria and Italy.
Nearly half of the arrests occurred in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, two southern states. The southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg alone is considered to be home to more than one in five Reichsbürger.
According to a tweet from Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, an "armed attack against constitutional bodies was planned." The probe, according to Ms. Faeser, would look into the "abyss of a terrorist danger from the Reichsbürger scene."
The central "Rat" (council) of the gang, according to the federal prosecutor's office, has been regularly gathering since November 2021 to organize a violent takeover.
The prosecution asserted that they already had plans in place to rule Germany through the health, justice, and foreign policy departments. Members were aware that using "military tactics and violence against state leaders," which included killing people, was the only way to achieve their objectives.
When they unearthed a kidnapping scheme involving a gang going by the name of United Patriots in April last year, investigators are believed to have learned about the group.
Along with reportedly plotting to kidnap Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and instigating "civil war circumstances" to bring an end to Germany's democracy, they were also members of the Reichsbürger scene.
It is believed that a former far-right AfD Bundestag member who was in line to become the group's justice minister was involved in the scheme.
Since she returned to the bench last year, a court has denied petitions to remove Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, one of the 25 individuals held, from her job as a judge.
Up to 21,000 people are thought to support the Reichsbürger movement, and about 5% of them lean to the extreme right. The conspirators allegedly planned a military wing to be led by Rüdiger von P, a second ringleader.
The group's foreign affairs were planned to be handled by a renowned attorney, with Heinrich XIII serving as the group's leader. Heinrich XIII, who calls himself a prince, is descended from the House of Reuss, a distinguished historic dynasty.