Archduchess Eliazabeth (1883-1963)

Figure 1.--The Archduchess is seen here with her second son Ernst. It looks to have been taken about 1910. Note his hair is worn very similrly as an older boy (figure 3).

Crown Prince Rudolph and Princess Stepanie had one child. Princess Elizabeth was born in 1883. I know little about her childhhod. She was only about 6 years old when her father killed himself at Mayerling in 1889. Princess Elizabeth married Prince Otto zu Windischgraetz in 1902. I have no information on his background at this time. They had four children, three boys and a girl. Austria became a republic following World War I. Elizabeth in the 1920s and 30s became known as the Red Archduchess when she married Leopold Petznek, a socialist politician.



Crown Prince Rudolf was the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth, one of Europe's most beautiful princesses. Rudolf was born on August 21, 1858. I'm ot sure how he was dressed as a boy. He was a patron of literature and the arts. He was constantly frustrated by his reactionary father. He colaborated with noted with prominent Austrian scholars in writing the definitive history Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Sissi's relationship with her eldest son, Crown Prince Rudolf was distant and strained. He wanted his mother's affection but by adulthood realized she was incabale of giving it to him. The Crown Prince in 1881 married Princess Stephanie of Belguim. For her part, Sissi hated Stephanie and made her life miserable. She did not see her faults or that they were exactly the same as those she critized. Rudolf's suiside is one of the most storied romances of 19th century European royalty. The suiside at the Mayerlinghunting lodge not only meant the death of two love struck people, it also robbed the Habsburgs of the one person who seemed most capable of keeping the tattered multinational monarchy from its eventual disintegration and collapse.

Figure 2.--This charming portrait shows Princess Stephanie and her big brother Rudolph (Rudi).


Crown Prince Rudolf in 1881 married Princess Stephanie of Belguim. Their marriage, as it happened frequently in the house of Habsburg, was arranged and involved little love between the young couple. Rudolf needed a more mature wife than his child-bride. Stephanie was not even 17 years of age at the time of her wedding and she failed to keep her husband from wandering the streets of Vienna in search of licentious enjoyments. Not only did Stephanie have to deal with that problem, but she also encountered the displeaure of the Emperess. Empress Sissi seems to have hated Stephanie and made her life miserable. She did not see her faults or that they were exactly the same as those she critized.


Princess Elizabeth was born in 1883. I know little about her childhood. She was only about 6 years old when her father killed himself at Mayerling in 1889. She lived in a castle at Laxenburg near Vienna during the summer and in winter she lived in the Hofburg near her grandfather Emperor Franz Joseph. After the death of her father her grandfather took care of her. [Wimmer]

Father's Death

In the first years after her father's death, noone told her anything about whay had transpired. They avoided speak about him. Around the age of 15 she asked the grandfather of a girlfriend about the death of her father and he told her the truth in a very sensitive way. She thought of her father as a wonderful and honorful man. When her mother married for the second time she told Elisabeth everything about Rudolf and her feelings for him and her powerlessness after his death. [Wimmer]

Prince Otto zu Windischgraetz

Princess Elizabeth was allowed to marry when she was 18 years old. She had fallen in love with Prince Otto zu Windischgraetz (1873-1952). [Wimmer] They married in 1902. The Prince was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army and a renowned sportsman who won several prizes for his shooting.

Figure 3.--This portrait shows Princess Elizabeth's four children. It was probably taken about 1912.


Elizabeth and Otto had four children, three boys and one girls. They were all very close in age and available family portarits suggest that they were a very close-knit family.

Franz Joseph (1904-81)

Prince Franz Joseph of Windisch-Graetz was born in 1904. He was named after his grear-grandfather, Emperor Franz Soseph. He married Countess Ghislaine d'Arschot Schoonhoven (1912-97). They had two children: Princess Stephanie of Windisch-Graetz (1939- ) who married Dermot Blundell (1935- ), Prince Guillaume of Windisch-Graetz (1950- )

Ernst (1905-52)

Prince Ernst of Windisch-Graetz was born in 1905. He married twice, first to Helena Skinner (1906-82) and next to Baroness Eva von Isbary (1921- ).

Rudolph (1907-39)

Prince Rudolph of Windisch-Graetz was born in 1907. He was known as Rudi. He died in 1939, the same year World War II began. Rudolf loved motorcycles and died in an accident.

Stephanie (1909- )

Princess Stephanie of Windisch-Graetz was born in 1909. She married Count Pierre d'Alcantara de Querrieu (1907-44). The Count died in a concentration camp at Oranienburg during World War II. She later married Carl Axel Bjorklund (1906-86).

Children's Clothes

The Archduchess appears to have often dressed the boys identically. This was possible as they were very close in age. They were often dressed in sailor suits, but there were other outfits as well. Ernst appears to wear a kind of one-piece play suit with asquare sailor collar (figure 1).

Figure 4.--Usually royal children were photographed formally. For some reason Prince Rudolf here is photographed in his nightshirt. Unlike the other boys, his hair was done in Dutch boy bangs. Notice that his hair is shorter than in figure 3. The photograph was probably taken about 1913.

Hair Styles

The boys were often dressed in identical outfits. For some reason their hair was all done differently. I'm not sure why this was done. Surely mother had some reason for it. She must have thought the boy's hair was not suitable for identical styling. Rather curious given the fact that they were dressed identically. Franz Joseph's hair appears to have been naturally curly. Unlike the other boys, Prince Rudolph's hair was done in Dutch boy bangs. One wonders if the boys discussed their different hair styles among themselves.

Second Marriage

Agter World War I, Elizabeth divorced. Apparently she had socilist political views. She married Leopold Petznek (1881-1956), a prominent Socialist politician in 1924. She was called the Red Archduchess for her association with her husband and the Socialists.

Later Life

Archduchess Elizabeth stayed in Austria with her partner Leopold Petznek after the Anchluss when the NAZIs took over Austria. Because of her royal descent she was not arrested and her sons didn't have to go into the military. She lived in seclusion with her partner in a small villa near Vienna. About 7 month before the war ended, Petznek was arrested and interned at the Dachau concentration camp. This was part of a genberal roundupm of Socialist politicians that followed the aborted assaination of Hitler in July 1944. [Wimmer] The Socialists had opposed the NAZIs in the 1920s and 30s and were considered disloyal. He surrvied the concentration camp dachau and was freed by the u.s. Army. Archduchess Elizabeth managed to survive the NAZIs and World War II and died in 1963.


Wimmer, Sabine. E-mail message, July 11, 2003.


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Created: June 26, 2002
Last updated: July 11, 2003