According to a spokesperson for President Heinz Fischer of Austria the King and Queen of Sweden have made known their intention to attend the funeral of Otto von Habsburg in Vienna on Saturday.
Among the other dignitaries who have announced their presence so far are, according to media reports, the Austrian President and Chancellor as well as several members of the Austrian government, the Sovereign Prince and Princess of Liechtenstein (of course), the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Princess Michael of the United Kingdom, the President of Georgia, the ex-King of Romania and the Speaker of the European Parliament.
While Otto von Habsburg was born in an era when there, according to King Olav, existed some sort of divide between the Catholic and Protestant monarchies of Europe, ties between the Habsburgs and the Bernadottes were rather close. Queen Josephina of Sweden and Norway was a first cousin of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth, making the late ex-Crown Prince Otto a fourth cousin of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden.
King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria, by birth Princess of Baden, paid a state visit to Emperor Franz Joseph shortly after their accession to the Swedish throne in 1907. Otto von Habsburg himself visited Sweden a couple of times when still a young man and at one stage Princess Ingrid (later Queen of Denmark) was considered a possible wife for him.
In recent years Otto von Habsburg’s ties with Sweden were mainly through his daughter Walburga, who married the Swedish Count Archibald Douglas, settled at a manor in Sörmland and became an MP. During his visits to Sweden Otto von Habsburg met privately with King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia on several occasions and they were among the guests at his 90th birthday celebrations in Vienna in 2002.
Otto von Habsburg was also a fourth cousin of Crown Princess Märtha of Norway, but although they knew each other during their shared exile in the USA during World War II, they lost contact after the war. Austrian media reports that the King of Norway has sent his condolences to the Habsburg family, but that neither the Norwegian nor the Danish royal family will be represented at the funeral.
The funeral in Vienna will be carried out almost as if Otto von Habsburg was still Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary and the Viennese newspapers now report on closure of tram lines and streets during the funeral procession from the Cathedral of St Stephan to the Capuchin Church. There has been some criticism of the fact that the Guard of the republican army will be on parade. I can understand the argument that Otto von Habsburg held no official position in the Austrian republic, but on the other hand there is nothing banning a republic from honouring the country’s great men and women even if they were once members of the same country’s royal family.
Today the coffins of Otto von Habsburg and his wife Regina, who was temporarily buried in her family vault in Heldburg following her death last year, have been reunited in Mariazell, where a requiem mass will be held in the basilica at 2 p.m.
From there the journey continues to Vienna, one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. Otto and Regina von Habsburg will lie in state in the Capuchin Church on Thursday and Friday (from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day) ahead of the funeral mass in the Cathedral of St Stephan on Saturday at 3 p.m.
It has now also been settled that the ceremony of knocking three times on the door of the Imperial Vault will be carried out. At the first knock Father Gottfried, the Capuchin monk who is custodian of the Imperial Vault, will call out “Wer begehrt Einlass?” (“Who requests entry?”)
The master of ceremonies, Ulrich-Walter Lipp, will respond by giving all the imperial titles once held by the deceased: “Otto von Österreich, einst Kronprinz von Österreich-Ungarn, königlicher Prinz von Ungarn und Böhmen, von Dalmatien, Kroatien, Slawonien, Galizien, Lodomerien und Illyrien, Großherzog von Toskana und Krakau, Herzog von Lothringen, von Salzburg, Steyr, Kärnten, Krain und der Bukowina, Großfürst von Siebenbürgen, Markgraf von Mähren, Herzog von Ober- und Niederschlesien, von Modena, Parma, Piacenza und Guastalla, von Auschwitz und Zator, von Teschen, Friaul, Ragusa und Zara, gefürsteter Graf von Habsburg und Tirol, von Kyburg, Görz und Gradisca, Fürst von Trient und Brixen, Markgraf von Ober- und Niederlausitz und in Istrien, Graf von Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg etc., Herr von Triest, von Cattaro und auf der Windischen Mark, Großwojwode der Wojwodschaft Serbien etc., etc.”
“Wir kennen ihn nicht” (“We know him not”), the monk will reply and the master of ceremonies will knock a second time. “Wer begehrt Einlass?” This time the master of ceremonies will reply with the civilian honours acquired by the former Crown Prince during his long post-imperial life:
“Dr. Otto von Habsburg, Präsident und Ehrenpräsident der Paneuropa-Union, Mitglied und Alterspräsident des Europäischen Parlamentes, Ehrendoktor zahlreicher Universitäten und Ehrenbürger vieler Gemeinden in Mitteleuropa, Mitglied ehrwürdiger Akademien und Institute, Träger hoher und höchster staatlicher und kirchlicher Auszeichnungen, Orden und Ehrungen, die ihm verliehen wurden in Anerkennung seines jahrzehntelangen Kampfes für die Freiheit der Völker, für Recht und Gerechtigkei”.
“Wir kennen ihn nicht”.
Then the third knock. “Wer begehrt Einlass?” “Otto, ein sterblicher, sündiger Mensch” (“Otto, a mortal, sinful human being”). “So komme er herein” (“So come here in”), the custodian will answer and the gate will be opened.
When Otto and Regina von Habsburg have been laid to rest, there will only be one available spot left in the Imperial Vault. Apparently this is reserved for Archduchess Yolande, the widow of Otto von Habsburg’s younger brother Karl Ludwig, who was laid to rest there in 2007.