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The Archduke Otto

Upon his first official visit to Hungary in the 1970s, the Archduke Franz Josef Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius, heir to the Imperial throne of Austria and the Apostolic Royal Throne of Hungary, the Royal Thrones of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, Croatia, Lodemeria and Illyria. Heir to the titular kingdom of Jerusalem, the grand Duchies of Tuscany and Krakow, the Duchies of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carniola and Bukovina, the Grand Principality of Transylvania, the Margravate of Moravia and many dozens of other titles, was greeted with a rapturous reception.

Indeed he was asked to extend his stay and attend an international football match. He was told it was Austria-Hungary. Without missing a beat he asked "who are we playing?". The -by then- civilian "Archduke Otto" was more usually referred to simply as Dr. von Habsburg, yet he still carried some of the mystique of the lost Imperial era as well as a puckish sense of humour. Though born to the imperial purple, his family were to lose every throne that they had held during the course of his long life. Yet after the early death of his father, the last Habsburg Emperor, Karl, it was Otto who was to carry the burden and expectations of his family and of many millions in his lost realms.

His dignity and determination in the face of Hitlerian contempt for Austrian independence won him many friends, and his friendship with President Roosevelt secured Austria's status as a victim, rather than as a co-aggressor in the Second World War. He was to become a passionate supporter of European Co-operation and was, perhaps, the most distinguished member of the European Parliament for many years.

In 1989 it was a picnic on the Austrian-Hungarian border organised by the church and by Dr. Habsburg's own pan-European movement that was to be the occasion of the fall of the iron curtain: so even in our own day the Pope and the Emperor could face down the heirs of Stalin.

Although it was inevitable that he would always face controversy, his mistakes were few and as the years passed, the historical reassessment of the the legacy of the Empire grew more positive. In 2004, Dr. Habsburg's father, the Emperor Karl, was beatified, which was not only a vindication of the last Emperor's personal qualities, but something of a condemnation of those who persecuted him. It was certainly an especially moving day for the the last Crown Prince.

The death of the Archduke Otto at the age of 98 is truly the end of a long era. He will be much missed.


Richard T said…
It is sad indeed that the Archduke Otto has died. It just leaves our own dear Crown Prince Charles left as the heir to a grand monarchy. Although he shows little of the intelligence and charm of Otto von Habsburg, he does have much of the Bourbons about him in his extravagance and his sense of his own prospective majesty. Truly a man who has leanrt nothing and forgotten nothing.
Vergil said…
u r g e n t

to her majesty - queen elisabeth II.

for the reasons that his imperial higness, the archduke of austria, otto von habsburg-lothringen, firstborn son from the last austrian emperor, died on 4. July 2011, i should like to point out that the funeral of him takes place on 16. july 2011, in vienna.

with all due respect allow me to say, that many peoples in austria and europe expects that you will be take an active part at his funeral - personally!

yours faithfully,

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