Alexander was born in 1969 in Mogadishu, Somalia to parents Joachim, Count von Schönburg-Glauchau, and Beatrix, Countess Széchenyi de Sárvár-Felsővidék. He is the youngest of four children from this marriage, after siblings Maria Felicitas (b. 1958), Gloria (b. 1960), and Carl-Alban (b. 1966). Their parents divorced in 1986. Afterwards, Alexander's father married Ursula Zwicker, and their union produced a daughter, Anabel Maya-Felicitas.
During the second half of the 1960s, Alexander's father's profession as a journalist and foreign correspondent took the family to Togo. They later moved to Somalia, before returning to Germany in 1970. The family thereafter resided in Meckenheim, in the Rhineland. Following the reunification of Germany in 1990, Alexander's father reclaimed the family's possessions in Saxony which had been taken from them after World War II. In later years, he was elected to the Bundestag.
Alexander's sister, Gloria, famously married into a very wealthy and princely house, becoming Princess of Thurn and Taxis. After ten years, however, her husband Prince Johannes died in 1990 leaving her with three young children and debts in the hundreds of millions. She was forced to downsize and reorganize their holdings in order to rescue the Thurn and Taxis fortune and legacy for Alexander's two nieces and his nephew, Albert, 12th Prince of Thurn and Taxis.
By 1999, Alexander von Schönburg was widely known as a member of one of the so-called popular culture quintuplets, with Christian Kracht, Eckhart Nickel, Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre and Joachim Bessing. He worked as a free lance journalist and was featured in publications like Esquire, Die Zeit, Swiss periodical Die Weltwoche, and Vogue.
He was Editor in Chief of lifestyle magazine Park Avenue in 2005. In 2006, he left this position and was replaced by Andreas Petzold. He continues to write as a columnist and German correspondent for Vanity Fair and the Bild-Zeitung, among others.
He has authored several books in German, including the 2005 best seller Die Kunst des stilvollen Verarmens ("The Art of Growing Poor Stylishly"), in which he discussed the lessons of dearth after years of decadence. Some of his other book titles read in English are "Encyclopedia of Superfluous Things" and "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Kings, But Were Afraid to Ask".
In 1995, his older brother, Carl-Alban, officially renounced his rights of dynastic succession. This left Alexander first in line of succession. As such, upon the death of their father in 1998, he became head of the comital branch of the formerly sovereign aristocratic House of Schönburg.
As a member of the House of Schönburg, Alexander is entitled a formal style of address using the predicate Illustrious Highness. Although German law no longer acknowledges or recognizes a status for noble houses or their titles per se, the government does allow for titles to be used in lieu of a surname.
On April 30, 1999 Alexander married Princess Irina of Hesse (b. 1971, Munich, Bavaria), in a civil ceremony in Berlin. They were married religiously in Heusenstamm, Hesse on May 29, 1999. The new Countess of Schönburg-Glauchau was born Princess Irina Verena, the second child and only daughter of Prince Karl Adolf Andreas of Hesse (b. 1937, Berlin) and his Hungarian wife, Countess Yvonne Szapáry of Muraszombath, Széchysziget and Szapár (b. 1944, Budapest). Irina's grandparents were Prince Christoph of Hesse and his wife Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark, elder sister of The Duke of Edinburgh, consort of Elizabeth II. As such, she is closely related to several of Europe's royal houses, and is a second cousin of Donatus, Landgrave of Hesse as well as of Princes William and Harry.
The couple have three children: Maria-Letitia Jolanta (b. 2001)Count Maximus Carolus Joachim Maria (b. 2003, Berlin)
Count Valentin Polykarp Josef Maria (b. 2005, Berlin)
Though descended from Queen Victoria through her granddaughter Princess Margaret of Prussia, Landgravine of Hesse, Irina and her children are excluded from succession to the British throne because they are Roman Catholic.Das Beste vom Besten. Ein Almanach der feinen Lebensart (mit Reinhard Haas und Axel Thorer). Econ, Düsseldorf 1989, ISBN 3-430-13733-0
No. 1. Die besten Seiten des Lebens von A–Z (mit Reinhard Haas und Axel Thorer). Econ, Düsseldorf ISBN 3-612-26037-5
In Bruckners Reich. Erzählung. In: Christian Kracht (Hrsg.): Mesopotamia. Ernste Geschichten am Ende des Jahrtausends. DVA, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-421-05191-7
Tristesse Royale: Das popkulturelle Quintett mit Joachim Bessing, Christian Kracht, Eckhart Nickel, Alexander v. Schönburg und Benjamin v. Stuckrad-Barre, hrsg. von Joachim Bessing. Ullstein, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-548-31226-8
Karriere. Theaterstück. Hannover, 2001
Der fröhliche Nichtraucher. Wie man gut gelaunt mit dem Rauchen aufhört. Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek 2003, ISBN 3-499-61660-2
Die Kunst des stilvollen Verarmens. Wie man ohne Geld reich wird. Rowohlt Berlin, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-87134-520-2
Lexikon der überflüssigen Dinge. Rowohlt Berlin, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-87134-543-1
Alles was Sie schon immer über Könige wissen wollten aber nie zu fragen wagten. Rowohlt Berlin, Berlin 2008, ISBN 3-87134-604-7