Austrian Royalty: Karl I's Children

Figure 1.--The three oldest children are shown here fishing with their father. From left to right they are Adelherd, Otto, and Robert. The picture was taken during 1920 in Switzerland where the family fled after the War. The boys appear to be wearing shorts. Otto still has his long hair.

Emperor Karl I/Charles I (Charles IV of Hungary) (1887-1922) was another of Francis Joseph's nephews (figure 1). He was only sixth in line to inherit the throne, but the more senior family members invalidated their claims by marrying commoners or were not suitable. Charles I had many children, the eldest were two boys (Otto and Robert) and a girl (Adelheid) (figure 1). The eldest was Prince Otto (named after his grandfather) who was born in 1912. Grand Duchness Adelheid was born a year later in 1913, and Robert the second son was born in 1915. Charles and Zita's children came about one a year.

The Children

Karl and Zita had eight children. The oldest and crown prince was Otto. Except for Otto, we know little about the children. Grand Duchness Adelheid was the oldest girl and second child. She was born a year after Otto (1913). The children were born about 1 year apart untill Karl died (1922). This testifies to the close relationship between the Empror and Emperess. After the War and Emperor's death, Zita took the children to various countries all over Europe. Austria declared a Republic at the end of World War I. This ended centuries of Hapsburg rule. It meant that Otto had lost is crown, but became as he got older the head of the Hapsburg family. He also became an outspoken anti-NAZI and high on the German list of people to arrest and liquidate. The family was in Belium at the time of the German invasion, but managed to escape to Britain.

Figure 2.--This photograph taken in 1927 shows Emperess Zita and her children. Otto wears a knicker suit. Notice how differently his brothers are dressed than hewas dressed.

The Children's Clothes

The royal couples children wee of course affected by their startling change of status and course of events swirling round them. The first children were born before the War when Karl was not even expected to inherit the throne. Then a sudden series of inter-connected events, including the assasination of the heir presumtive, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, World war I, Empperor Franz Ferdinand's death, Karl's coronation, the Empire's collapse, the end of the monarchy. Empress Zita as might be expected for the empress of Austria was a very stylish induvidual. Young Prince Otto appears to have been one of the most stylishly dressed boys in Europe. Prince Otto wore frilly white dresses and long hair. Even after breeching he wore frilly short pants outfits and is long flowing locks were not cut. Gradually in the 1920s the Austrian princes began to wear less fancy clothes anf shorter hair. In part is a reflection of how significantly boys clothing changed after World War I (1914-18). A photograph taken in 1927, for example, shows the boys dressing as in wealthy European family might dress. Prince Otto who would have been about 15 years old wears a mature-looking knicker suit.


Jacobs, Tevie. "When The Grand Dukes Drilled In Indiana," The Indianapolis Star Sunday Magazine, August 15, 1971.


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Created: February 26, 1999
Last updated: 9:27 PM 5/31/2009