Austrian Royalty: Archduke (Prince) Otto

Figure 1.--Archduke (Crown Prince Otto) is pictured here with his parents and sister about 1917. He was about 5 years old. He wears a an elaborate white blouse which hangs low, almost like a smock and short pants with white socks rather ;oke a tunic.

Archduke Otto was Emperor Karl's eldest son. His mother Empress Zita was a very stylish lady and the children were very elegantly dressed. As older boys they mostly wore sailor suits. His father only ruled for 2 years before he had to abdicate. As a young man he wondered around Europe. He was opposed to the NAZIs and the Anchluss and had to leave Germany. He helped Jews escape from NAZI occupied areas. After the War he returned to Europe, but eventually renounced the throne so he could engage in politics.


I have only the barest outline of the royal family and Prince Otto. Some information can be deduced from the photographs. They ppear to have been a closenit family. The children seem to have spent a great deal of time together. Theu often appeared with their parents. I eventually hope to add some biograpical details, but to date have been able to find little actual information. Charles Francis Joseph, Charles I or Karl I (Charles IV of Hungary) (1887-1922), was another of Francis Joseph's nephews (figure 1). Karl replaced Francis Joseph when the Emperor died in 1916 (figure 4). Even before his death, Francis Joseph had planned to confer the rights of co-regent on Charles. Karl I was the last of the Hapsburg rulers. I have no information at this time on Karl as a father and the relationship with the children. After addicating from the Austrian monarchy, after the War he attempted to become the monarch of newly independent Hungary. Karle married Princess Zita von Bourbon-Parma of Parma (1892-1989). Her parents were Duke of Bourbon-Parma (1848- ) and Maria Antonia de Braganša of Portugal (1862- ). I have no information at his time on the Emperess or on her relationship with the children. Judging from the available photographs she dressed very stylishly and insisted on stylish clothds for the children. He married Princess Zita . I know little about Princess Zita at this time. She did agree with her husband that the War had to be resolved with a negotiated settlement. They hoped to use her brother, Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma as an intermediary. Karl and Zita had many children, the first were two boys (Otto and Robert) and a girl (Adelheid). 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 I believe in 1914.

Baptism and Titles

Otto was baptized Nov.25 1912 with the names (are you ready?): Franz Josef Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xaver Felix Rene Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignazius. He had numerous titles, starting with Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, Grand-Duke of Toscana and Krakau, Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg and Bukowina, Archduke of Modena, Parma, Auschwitz (!), Zator and Teschen, etc.


I have no information at this time about Otto's childhood or how he was raised. Our only information at this time is derived from the available photographs. Otto seems to have had a happy childhhod in a very closely knit family. We see the younger and older children doing things together. The body language of the children in the photographs also suggest close family relations. Hopefully we can eventually obtain some details about the family.

Figure 2.--This looks to be Prince Otto with his father. Note the broad-brimmed sailor hat and long hair.


Otto was to be the heir to the Hapsburg throne. The children were very smartly dressed in many formal and informal photographs. Otto is pictured in a variety of outfits. As a small boy he wore dresses. A family portrait taken when he was about 3 years old shows him wearing a dress. He also wore a dress for the emperor's funeral in 1916 when he was about 4 years old. We see Prince Otto wearing a vriety of skirted outfits. It is difficult to tell much about the garments in the available outfits. Somelook to be dresses, but he may have also worn tunics as well. We have no information on these garments other than what can be gleaned by assessing the available portraits and other photographs. They seem to be mostly white garments. By about 5 years of age, probably in 1917, Otto began to wear short pants, usually with white ankel socks. Despite beginning to wear knee pants, his mother did not have his curly hair cut until much later. In one photograph he wears a white suit with short pants and a very long blouse with a fancy ruffled collar, white socks and shoes and a straw hat with a ribbon band (figure 5). I don't believe American or British boys wore such long blouses. Their blouses either tucked into or buttoned on to the pants. Available images show the children in sailor hats and not the more informal sailor caps. Wise-brimmed ailor hats appears to have been the most common headgear. They were worn both turned up and turned down. As younger chilfren they appeared to have worn boot like shoes. Latter they commonly wore strap shoes, although I do not know what color. All the available images show the children wearing white socks. The pictures I have all show the children in short white socks. They do not appear to have been dressed in kneesocks.

Brother-sister Outfits

Empress Zita loved to dress the children in matching outfits. This was most notable after breaching. It also included brothers and sisters. The Empress especially after the children were breached. Many of the like gender children had identical outfits. Even brothers and sisters had similar outfits. One photograph shows Otto in short pants and his sister wearing a skirt. Otto and Adelheid appear in a 1919-20 photograph dressed in blue sailor suits.

Hair Styles

Otto as a boy wore long hair, although not done in ringlets. Ever after the War he wore his hair long for a few years. A photograph taken in Switzerland shows the children fishing with their father in Switzerland during 1920. They wear similar casual outfits. Adelherd wears a white skirt and the boys white short pants. All three children wear strap shoes and white ankel socks. Otto still has his long hair. The available photogrphs that Otto even at 8 years old in 1920 was wearing his hair quite long (figure 7). In fact Otto appears to be wearing is hair longer than his younger brother and even his sister. I'm not sure just whose idea this was. It seems unlikely that his mother would insist that her older son wear his hair longer than is younger brother and sister, but this appears to have been the case. Otto seems to have been quite special to his mother. One contributor tells me that Otto wore his hair long until he was about 12 years old. We note a photograph of Otto in a dark sailor suit with his hair cut short at the side, but still quite elaborately done on top.

Figure 3.--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.

After World War I

Otto took his First Communion October 2, 1918. He was forced to leave Austria in 1919. He studied in a convent in Luxembourg 1927/28. The family dropped the "von" after Austria became a republic in 1918. Otto was the claimant to the Austrian Imperial throne after the death of his father in 1922. The Empress Zita of Austria lived in Lekeitio after she had been forced to abdicate, following World War I. Life proved difficult for Otto, and after the abdication of his father in 1918. He spent several years aimlessly wandering Europe from Switzerland to Madiera and Spain. He finally settled in Bavaria.


I do not yet have details about Otto's early education. I suspect that he had tutors. He studied at the University of Louvain, Belgium, 1929-35 (PhD Social Sciences).

Hitler and the Anchluss

Hitler disliked the Habsburgs, even more than the Hohenzollerns. The Hapsburgs were the Imperial family of his youth as he was born in Austria. He reportedly persecuted the Habsburgs in Germany after seizing power in 1933. Before the Anschluss in Austria on the eve of the World War II, the Workers' Party, known as Christian Syndicates, called unsuccessfully for Otto's return. Otto told a French newspaper woman in 1950 that Hitler offered him the opportunity to return to the Habsburg throne if he accepted and supported the NAZI ideology. [HBRC note: We do not know the circumstances here. It is not unlikely that NAZI operatives would have approched Otto or even made offers. NAZI agents are known to have said many things to the Kaiser's wife and childrn. We know, however, that Hitler at no time seriouly considered reviving either the Hapsburg or Hohnzollern monarchy.] Otto also stated that he had contact with the Russians in the late 1940s, intimated that an agreement with them was not out of the question. Otto refused both. Otto opposed the Anschuss by which the NAZis incorporated Austria into the Reich (1937). The NAZIs charged Otto with treason and he was forced to flee to America. While in America he reportedly helped smuggle thousands of Jews out of NAZI occupied territories. After World War II, he returned to Europe.

World War II

Otto lived in America during World War II from 1940-1944.


Otto did not marry until 1951. He married Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen, Duchess of Saxony, daughter of Georg, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen and Countess Klara-Marie von Korffgen. Schmising. ing-Kerssenbrock . She was born during 1925 in Wuerzburg


Otto and Regina had seven children, including a set of twins:

Monika (1954-)

Monika is married to the Duke of San Angelo, has three children and lives in Balaguer, Spain.

Michaela (1954-)

Michaela, Monika's twin sister, is married to Eric Allen d'Antin, has two children and lives is Florida.

Andrea (1955-)

Andrea is married to Eugen von Neipperg, has five children and lives in Schwaigern, Germany.

Gabriela (1956-)

Gabriella is married to Christian Meister, has three children and lives in Germany.

Walburga (1958-)

Walburga is married to Archibald Douglas, has one son and lives in Sweden.

Karl (1961-)

Archduke Karl of Austria born in 1961. The eldest son and heir to the dynasty is Karl, who lives in Austria and has served in the Austrian army and now is a member of the European Parliament like his father. He has worked hard to keep the family in the public limelight, even hosting a popular television game show. He works quietly to change the Austrian laws of 1919 that forbid the Habsburgs from holding any political office and has often been mentioned as a possible Chancellor of the Austrian Republic. In 1993 Karl married Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza who is well known in European high society. They currently have two children, including Archduke Ferdinand of Austria born in 1997.

Gyorgy (1964-)

Gyorgy, in keeping with the old Habsburg tradition of connecting family members to distinct parts of the Empire, lives in Hungary. As with Karl, he has taken a dynamic, public presence and revived the fame of the Habsburg family name. He is an executive for MTM-SBS TV, director of MTM Communications and is a Hungarian special ambassador to lobby for EEU membership for Hungary. He is married to Duchess Eilika von Oldenburg.


Otto renounced his claims to the Austrian Imperial throne in 1961. This allowed to reenter Austria and become more active in European politics. He lives in Pocking, Bavaria and has represented Bavaria in the European Parliament since 1979.


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Created: February 26, 1999
Last updated: 5:04 AM 1/8/2008