About Otto Habsburg-Lothringen
Golden Fleece - Knights: Austrian Branch
Honors and Awards
Habsburg/Austrian orders and awards
- Order of the Golden Fleece (Austrian Branch)
- Sovereign (1922–2000)
- Knight (1916)
- Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen
- Grand Cross of the Imperial Austrian Order of Leopold
- Badge of the Tyrolean Nobility Register
Otto von Habsburg] (20 November 1912 – 4 July 2011), also known by his royal name as Archduke Otto of Austria, was the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary from 1916 until the dissolution of the empire in 1918, a realm which comprised modern-day Austria, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and parts of Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine. He remained the Crown Prince of Hungary until also the deposition of the Habsburgs in Hungary in 1921. He subsequently became the pretender to the former thrones, Head of the Imperial House of Habsburg, and Sovereign of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1922. He resigned as Sovereign of the Golden Fleece in 2000 and as head of the Imperial House in 2007.
The eldest son of Charles I, the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, and his wife, Zita of Bourbon-Parma, Otto was born as third in line to the thrones, as His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke and Prince Imperial Otto of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia. With his father's accession to the thrones in 1916, he was himself likely to become the Emperor. As his father never abdicated, Otto was considered by himself, his family and Austro-Hungarian legitimists to be the rightful Emperor-King from 1922. Had the dual monarchy still existed, had his father still died young, and had he still lived to the age of 98, he might have had an 89-year reign, the longest verifiable by date.
Otto was active on the Austrian and European political stage from the 1930s, both by promoting the cause of Habsburg restoration and as an early proponent of European integration—being thoroughly disgusted with nationalism—and a fierce opponent of Nazism and communism. He has been described as one of the leaders of the Austrian anti-Nazi resistance. After the 1938 Anschluss, monarchists were severely persecuted in Austria, and—sentenced to death by the Nazis—Otto fled to the United States, with a visa issued by Aristides de Sousa Mendes.
Otto von Habsburg was Vice President (1957–1973) and President (1973–2004) of the International Paneuropean Union, and served as a Member of the European Parliament for the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) 1979–1999. In 1961, Francisco Franco offered him the crown of Spain, but he declined on account of the Habsburg dynasty's long absence from the Spanish throne, and recommended Juan Carlos. As a newly elected Member of the European Parliament in 1979, Otto had an empty chair set up for the countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain in the European Parliament, and took a strong interest in the countries behind the Iron Curtain during his tenure. Otto von Habsburg played a central role in the revolutions of 1989, as a co-initiator of the Pan-European Picnic. Later he would be a strong supporter of the EU membership of central and eastern European countries. A noted intellectual, he has published several books on historical and political affairs. Otto has been described as one of the "architects of the European idea and of European integration" together with Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer, and Alcide De Gasperi.
Otto was exiled in 1918 and grew up mostly in Spain. His devout Catholic mother raised him according to the old curriculum of Austria-Hungary, preparing him to become a Catholic monarch. During his life in exile, he lived in Switzerland, Madeira, Spain, Belgium, France, the United States, and from 1954 until his death, finally in Bavaria (Germany), in the residence Villa Austria. At the time of his death, he was a citizen of Germany, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, having earlier been stateless de jure and de facto and possessed passports of Monaco, the Order of Malta, and Spain.
His funeral took place at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna on 16 July 2011; after a solemn requiem mass at Saint John Cantius in Chicago; he was entombed in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna and his heart buried in Pannonhalma Archabbey in Hungary.
Crown Prince Otto in Budapest in 1916
Otto was born at Villa Wartholz in Reichenau an der Rax, Austria-Hungary. He was baptised Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius on 25 November 1912 at Villa Wartholz by the Prince-Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Franz Xaver Nagl. His godfather was the Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria (represented by Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria); his godmother was his grandmother Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal.
In November 1916, Otto became Crown Prince of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia when his father, Archduke Charles, acceded to the throne. However, in 1918, at the end of the First World War, the monarchies were abolished, the Republics of Austria and Hungary founded instead, and the family was forced into exile in Madeira. Hungary did become a kingdom again, but Charles was never to regain the throne. Instead, Miklós Horthy ruled as regent until 1944, in a kingdom without a king.
He spoke German, Hungarian, Croatian, English, Spanish, French and Latin fluently. In later life, he would write some 40 books in German, Hungarian, French and Spanish. His mother made him learn many languages because she believed he one day might rule over many lands.  Years in exile
Otto's family spent the subsequent years in Switzerland, and on the Portuguese island of Madeira, where Charles died prematurely in 1922, leaving the 9-year-old Otto pretender to the throne. On his father's deathbed, his mother, then-Empress Dowager Zita, told the 9-year old, "your father is now sleeping the eternal sleep—you are now Emperor and King". The family eventually relocated to the Basque town of Lekeitio, where 40 Spanish grandees bought them a villa. Meanwhile, the Austrian parliament had officially expelled the Habsburg dynasty and confiscated all the official property (Habsburg Law of 3 April 1919). Otto von Habsburg (left) and Count von Degenfeld in 1933.
In 1935, he graduated with a PhD degree in Political and Social Sciences from the University of Louvain in Belgium. From his father's death throughout the remainder of his time in exile, Otto considered himself the rightful emperor of Austria and stated this on many occasions. In 1937 he ====wrote==== I know very well that the overwhelming majority of the Austrian population would like me to assume the heritage of the peace emperor, my beloved father, rather earlier than later. (...) The [Austrian] people have never cast a vote in favor of the republic. They have remained silent as long as they were exhausted from the long fight, and taken by surprise by the audacity of the revolutionaries of 1918 and 1919. They shook off their resignation when they realized that the revolution had raped their right to life and freedom. (...) Such trust places a heavy burden on me. I accept it readily. God willing, the hour of reunion between the Duke and the people will arrive soon.
He continued to enjoy considerable public support in Austria; from 1931 to 1938, 1,603 Austrian municipalities named Otto an honorary citizen.
World War II
Otto strongly opposed the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi Germany. In 1938 he requested Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg to resist the Nazis and supported an international intervention, and offered to return from exile to take over the reins of government in order to repel Hitler. According to Gerald Warner, "Austrian Jews were among the strongest supporters of a Habsburg restoration, since they believed the dynasty would give the nation sufficient resolve to stand up to the Third Reich".
Following the German annexation of Austria, Otto was sentenced to death by the Nazis. As ordered by Adolf Hitler, his personal property and that of the House of Habsburg were confiscated and not given back after the war. The so-called "Habsburg Law", which had previously been repealed, was reintroduced by the fiercely republican and anti-monarchist Nazis. The leaders of the Austrian legitimist movement, i.e. supporters of Otto, were arrested by the Nazis and largely executed (Stefan Zweig's novella The Royal Game is based on these events). Otto's cousins Max, Duke of Hohenberg, and Prince Ernst of Hohenberg were arrested in Vienna by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau concentration camp where they remained throughout the Nazi rule. Otto was involved in helping around 15,000 Austrians,including thousands of Austrian Jews, flee the country at the beginning of the Second World War.
Rudolf Hess ordered that Otto was to be executed immediately if caught. After the German invasion of France the family left the French capital and fled to Portugal with a visa issued by Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul in Bordeaux. For his own safety, he left the European continent and lived from 1940 to 1944 in Washington, D.C. In his war-time exile in the United States, he worked to stop or limit the bombing campaign against Austria. In the United States, he initiated the Austrian Day and was able to get Austria included in a postage stamp series on "Occupied Nations". He obtained the support of Winston Churchill for a conservative "Danube Federation", in effect a restoration of Austria-Hungary, but Joseph Stalin put an end to these plans. He lobbied for the recognition of an Austrian government-in-exile, for the rights of the German-speaking population of South Tyrol, against the deportation of the German-speaking inhabitants of Bohemia and eastern Europe, and against letting Stalin rule Eastern Europe.
In 1941, Adolf Hitler personally revoked the citizenship of Otto, his mother, and his siblings, and the imperial-royal family found themselves stateless.
After World War II
At the end of the war, Otto returned to Europe and lived for some years in France and Spain.
In 1949, he ennobled several people, granting them Austrian noble titles, although not recognized by the Austrian republic. As he did not possess a passport and was effectively stateless, he was given a passport of the Principality of Monaco, thanks to the intervention of Charles de Gaulle in 1946. As a Knight of Malta, the Order also issued him a diplomatic passport. Later, he was also given a Spanish diplomatic passport.
On 8 May 1956, Otto was recognized as an Austrian citizen by the provincial government of Lower Austria.] The Austrian Interior Ministry approved this declaration of Citizenship, but on the condition that he accept the name Dr. Otto Habsburg-Lothringen, on 8 February 1957. But this only entitled him to a passport "valid in every country but Austria". Otto had already submitted a written statement, on 21 February 1958, that he and his family would renounce all privileges formerly entitled a member of the House of Habsburg, but this first declaration did not satisfy the requirements of the Habsburg Law. He officially declared his loyalty to the Republic of Austria on 5 June 1961. His second and formal renunciation of Habsburg privilege, on 31 May 1961, was eventually ruled satistfactory and in compliance with the Habsburg Law in 1963. His wife and he were then issued a Certified Proof of Citizenship on 20 July 1965. The Interior Ministry granted him an Austrian passport on 1 June 1966. The legal proceedings that forbade him entry to the country were now at an end. He traveled to Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria, for the first time since his exile, to visit the grave of Archduke Eugen of Austria, on 31 October 1966. Later, he visited Vienna on 5 July 1966
In a declaration dated 31 May 1961, Otto renounced all claims to the Austrian throne and proclaimed himself "a loyal citizen of the republic", a move that he made only after much hesitation and certainly "for purely practical reasons". In a 2007 interview on the occasion of his approaching 95th birthday, Otto stated:
"This was such an infamy, I'd rather never have signed it. They demanded that I abstain from politics. I would not have dreamed of complying. Once you have tasted the opium of politics, you never get rid of it."
The Habsburg Law of 3 April 1919 stated that Charles' descendants could only return to Austria if they renounced their royal claims and accepted the status of private citizens. The Austrian administrative court found on 24 May 1963 that Otto's statement was sufficient to meet this requirement. However, several elements in the country, particularly the Socialists, were ill-disposed to welcoming back the heir of the deposed dynasty. This touched off political infighting and civil unrest that almost precipitated a crisis of state, and later became known as the "Habsburg Crisis." It was only on 1 June 1966, after the People's Party won an outright majority in the national election, that Otto was issued an Austrian passport, and was finally able to visit his home country again on 31 October 1966 for the first time in 48 years.
An early advocate of a unified Europe, Otto was president of the International Paneuropean Union from 1973 to 2004. He served from 1979 until 1999 as a Member of the European Parliament for the conservative Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) party, eventually becoming the senior member of the European Parliament. He was also a member of the Mont Pelerin Society. He was a major supporter of the expansion of the European Union from the beginning and especially of the acceptance of Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. During his time in the European Parliament, he was involved in a fracas initiated by fellow MEP Ian Paisley. In 1988, Pope John Paul II had just begun a speech to the Parliament, and Protestant Paisley shouted at the Pope, "I denounce you as the Antichrist!", holding a poster reading "Pope John Paul II Antichrist". Otto snatched Paisley's banner and, along with other MEPs, helped eject him from the chamber.
He was one of the men instrumental in organising the so called Pan-European Picnic at the Hungary-Austria border on 19 August 1989. This event is considered a milestone in the collapse of Communist dictatorships in Europe.
He was reportedly a patron of the Three Faiths Forum, a group which aims to encourage friendship, goodwill and understanding amongst people of the three monotheistic faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Otto (first right) with Helmut Kohl (third right)
In December 2006, he observed that, "The catastrophe of 11 September 2001 struck the United States more profoundly than any of us, whence a certain mutual incomprehension. Until then, the United States felt itself secure, persuaded of its power to bombard any enemy, without anyone being able to strike back. That sentiment vanished in an instant. Americans understand viscerally for the first time the risks they face."
On 5 July 2007, Otto von Habsburg received the Freedom of the City of London from the hands of Sir Gavyn Arthur, a former Lord Mayor of London.
He was known as a supporter of the rights of refugees and displaced people in Europe, notably of the ethnic Germans displaced from Bohemia where he was once the Crown Prince. He was a jury member of the Franz Werfel Human Rights Award. He also held Francisco Franco in a high regard and praised him for helping refugees, stating that he was "a dictator of the south American type, not totalitarian like Hitler or Stalin".
In 2002, he was named the first ever honorary member of the European People's Party group.
On the 2008 anniversary of the Anschluss,Otto von Habsburg made a very controversial statement, as part of his "1938 Remembrance Day" address before Parliament that "there is no country in Europe that has a better claim to be a victim of the Nazis than Austria". The context of this statement left little room for the media to interpret it in a better light. Although his speech received an ovation, the Habsburgs were once again distanced from the popular opinion of the Austrian people, as demonstrated in public protest, media criticism and disapproval voiced by Austrian politicians. SPÖ Defence Minister Norbert Darabos was quoted as saying that the remarks were "unacceptable", "a veritable democratic-political scandal" and that he had "insulted the victims of National Socialism". Otto von Habsburg was also quoted as saying that "a discussion as to whether Austria was an accomplice or a victim is an outrage". ÖVP military spokesman Walter Murauer defended Otto's statement at the time Murauer claimed that there was "another reality behind the mass of people who listened to Hitler on the Heldenplatz". Meaning the "thousands in the resistance and thousands in prison waiting to be transported to Dachau" near Munich. Murauer also recalled that Engelbert Dollfuß had been the only head of government in Europe to have been murdered by the Nazis. Murauer advised Darabos "to avoid populist pot-shots against an honourable European of the highest calibre." His son, Karl von Habsburg, also defended his father's words, in a 2011 statement, stating that "there were guilty parties in practically every country".
Death and funeral
Main article: Death and funeral of Otto von Habsburg Otto and Regina lying in repose in the Capuchin Church, Vienna, draped with the Habsburg flag. The guards of honour are dressed in Austro-Hungarian uniforms.
After the death of his wife, Regina in 2010, Otto stopped appearing in public. He died at the age of 98 on Monday, 4 July 2011, at his home in Pöcking, Germany. His spokeswoman reported that he died "peacefully and without pain in his sleep". He was survived by his younger brother, Felix, as well as 7 children, 22 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
On 5 July, his body was laid in repose in the Church of St. Ulrich near his home in Pöcking, Bavaria, and a massive 13-day period of mourning started in several countries formerly part of Austria-Hungary. Otto's coffin was draped with the Habsburg flag decorated with the imperial–royal coats of arms of Austria and Hungary in addition to the Habsburg family coat of arms.
In line with the Habsburg family tradition, Otto von Habsburg was buried in the family's crypt in Vienna, while his heart was buried in a monastery in Pannonhalma, Hungary.  Family 4-year old Crown Prince Otto of Hungary in Budapest in 1916, attending his parents' coronation as King and Queen of Hungary, painted by Gyula Éder.
He was married to Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen from 1951 until her death in 2010. At the time of his death, he left seven children, 23 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren (as of 2011):
- Andrea von Habsburg (born 1953).
- Monika von Habsburg (born 1954).
- Michaela von Habsburg, born on 13 September 1954 (age 57).
- Gabriela von Habsburg, born on 14 October 1956 (age 55)
- Walburga von Habsburg, born on 5 October 1958 (age 53)
- Karl von Habsburg, born on 11 January 1961 (age 51) -
- Georg von Habsburg, born on 16 December 1964 (age 47)
Otto Habsburg-Lothringen, Erzherzog von Österreich's Timeline
November 20, 1912
Reichenau an der Rax, Neunkirchen District, Lower Austria, Austria
May 10, 1951
Nancy, Lorraine, France
October 14, 1956
January 11, 1961
Starnberg, Bayern, Deutschland
December 16, 1964
Starnberg, Bavaria, Germany
July 4, 2011
Pöcking, Oberbayern, Bavaria, Germany