Wednesday, 7 September 2011

At the road’s end: Archduke Felix of Austria-Hungary (1916-2011)

Hardly two months after the death of his brother Otto it has been reported that Archduke Felix of Austria-Hungary, the last surviving child of Emperor Karl I and Empress Zita, died in Mexico yesterday at the age of 95.
Born at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna on 31 May 1916, His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Felix Friedrich August Maria vom Siege Franz Joseph Peter Karl Anton Robert Otto Pius Michael Benedikt Sebastian Ignatius Marcus d'Aviano was the third son born of the marriage of the then Archduke Karl and Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma. His great-great-uncle Franz Joseph I was still on the throne (and had been so for 68 years), but passed away in November of that year, making Felix’s parents Emperor and Empress. Two years later the Austro-Hungarian empire and centuries of Habsburg rule were at an end.
Archduke Felix thus grew up in exile, but was allowed to re-enter Austria in 1937, when he joined the Theresian Military Academy. However, the advent of the Anschluss made him leave Austria and he eventually ended up in the USA.
In civil life Archduke Felix became a marketing consultant and lived in various countries until eventually settling in Mexico. After the war his refusal to renounce his imperial pretentions meant that he, unlike his eldest brother, was banned from entering Austria. He was allowed in for his mother’s funeral in 1989 and paid an illegal visit in 1996, but eventually reached an agreement with the Republic which involved his declaring his allegiance to the Republic without specifically renouncing his claims. He was not well enough to make the long journey to attend his eldest brother’s spectacular funeral in Vienna two months ago.
In 1952 he married Princess and Duchess Anna-Eugénie of Arenberg, with whom he had four daughters and three sons. Archduchess Anna-Eugénie died in 1997.

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