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Otto von Habsburg (born 20 November 1912 as Archduke Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius of Austria, later of Austria-Este) was the head of the House of Habsburg from 1922 to 2007. He is the former Crown Prince (1916–1918) of Austriamarker, Bohemia, Croatiamarker and the nominal King of Hungarymarker, from 1922 to 1946 when he was formally deposed by the communists when Hungary became a republic. Since 1922 he is the Habsburg pretender to the Austrian throne. Otto is the eldest son of Charles, the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, and his wife, Zita of Bourbon-Parma. He is a former member of the European Parliamentmarker for the Christian Social Union (CSU) party and honorary president of the International Paneuropean Union.

Otto lives in Bavariamarker in Germanymarker, and is a citizen of Germanymarker, Austriamarker, Croatiamarker and Hungarymarker. Although his official name in Germany is Otto von Habsburg, he is referred to as Otto Habsburg-Lothringen by Austrian authorities, since the use of noble titles and prepositions like "von" is forbidden by the Austrian constitution. He is sometimes known as Archduke Otto of Austria, Crown Prince Otto of Austria, and in Hungary simply as Habsburg Ottó.

Early life

Otto was born at Villa Wartholz in Reichenau an der Raxmarker, Lower Austriamarker. He was baptised on 25 November 1912, at Villa Wartholz, by the Prince-Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Franz Xavier 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, ascended 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. Hungary did become a kingdom again, but Charles was never to reascend the throne. Instead, Miklós Horthy ruled as regent until 1944, in a kingdom without a king.

Years in exile

Otto's family spent the subsequent years in Switzerlandmarker, on the Portuguesemarker island of Madeiramarker, where Karl died prematurely in 1922, leaving the 9-year-old Otto pretender to the throne, and in the Basquemarker town of Lekeitiomarker. Meanwhile, the Austrian parliament had officially expelled the Habsburg dynasty and confiscated all the official property (Habsburg Law of 3 April 1919).

In 1935 Otto graduated from the Catholic University of Leuven, having studied social and political sciences.

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 has never cast a vote in favor of the republic.
It has remained silent as long as it was exhausted from the long fight, and taken by surprise by the audacity of the revolutionaries of 1918 and 1919.
It shook off its resignation when it realized that the revolution had raped its 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.”

Opposing the Nazi government

A fervent Austrian patriot, Otto opposed the Nazi Anschluss in Austria in 1938 (the Nazis codenamed their plan for a military invasion of Austria "Otto" because they planned to invade immediately if he was restored to the throne) and, sentenced to death by Hitler, chose to leave Europe altogether. Otto spent most of the war years in Washington, D.C.marker (1940 – 1944), after escaping from Belgiummarker to Parismarker with his mother, former Empress Zita, and other family members. His cousins Max, Duke of Hohenberg, and Prince Ernst of Hohenberg were arrested in Viennamarker by the Gestapomarker and sent to a concentration camp until the end of the war. When Paris was in danger, the family left the French capital and moved to Portugalmarker with a visa issued by Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul in Bordeauxmarker. After the war, Otto lived for some years in both Francemarker and Spainmarker.

Political career

Otto von Habsburg giving a speech
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 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 [with that demand].
Once you have tasted the opium of politics, you never get rid of it."

When the Austrian administrative court found on 24 May 1963 that the declaration was sufficient to lift the legal ban that prevented Otto from entering the country, political infighting and civil unrest resulted that almost precipitated a crisis of state, and later became known as the "Habsburg Crisis." (Austria had been officially neutral since 1955, staunchly republican and ill-disposed to welcome back the heir to the deposed dynasty.) It was only on 1 June 1966 - after a change of government - that Otto was issued an Austrian passport, and was finally able to visit his home country again on 31 October 1966.

An early advocate of a unified Europe, Otto was president of the International Paneuropean Union from 1986 to 2004. He served from 1979 till 1999 as a Member of the European Parliamentmarker for the conservative CSU party, becoming the Senior Member of the supranational body. He is 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 Hungarymarker, Sloveniamarker and Croatiamarker. During his time in parliament Otto is alleged to have struck fellow MEP Ian Paisley. When Pope John Paul II gave a speech to the European Parliament in 1988, Paisley shouted at the Pope, "I renounce you as the Antichrist!" and held up a poster reading "Pope John Paul II Antichrist", whereupon he was excluded from the session and expelled from the room by other MEPs.

Otto is 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 Kingdommarker and elsewhere.

In December 2006, Otto observed that, "The catastrophe of 11 September 2001 struck the United Statesmarker 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."

In January 2007 he relinquished his status as the Head of his House to his eldest son. On 5 July 2007 Otto received the Freedom of the City of Londonmarker from the hands of Sir Gavyn Arthur, former Lord Mayor of London.

Family life

Otto has been married since 1951 to Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen and Hildburghausen. The couple have seven children, 23 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild:

Otto and his wife reside in retirement at the Villa Austria in Pöckingmarker bei Starnbergmarker, Starnbergmarker, near the lake Starnberger Seemarker, Upper Bavaria, Bavariamarker, Germanymarker.


Patrilineal descent

Otto is a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, descended from the Dukes of Lorraine, of Frankish origin.

Otto's patriline is the line from which he is descended father to son. It follows the Emperors of Austria, the Dukes of Lorraine and before them, the Counts of Norgau. The line can be traced back more than 1,400 years and is the oldest in Europe with the exclusion of the Bagratids of Georgiamarker and the Houses of Ireland such as the Uí Néill.

  1. Magnacar, c. 550 - 589, Burgundian Nobleman, Duke
  2. Waldelenus, c. 580 - 657, Burgundian Nobleman, Steward of Austrasia
  3. Adalric, c. 605 - bef. 670, 2nd Duke of Pagus Attoariensis from 657
  4. Adalric or Etichon, c. 630 - bef. 690, 1st Duke of Alsace from 670; brother of Gandalen, 1st Abbot of Béze who died aft. 677
  5. Adalric or Haicon, c. 670 - aft. 726, 1st Count of Norgau; was the patrilineal ancestor of the House of Habsburg.
  6. Albéric, c. 710 - c. 760, 2nd Count of Norgau c. 730 - 735
  7. Eberard I, c. 745 - c. 795, 3rd Count of Norgau 765 - 777
  8. Eberard II, c. 790 - c. 864, 4th Count of Norgau in 864
  9. Eberard III, 830 - c. 900, 5th and 1st Hereditary Count of Norgau in 885
  10. Hugues I, bef. 875 - c. 940, 2nd Count of Norgau
  11. Eberard IV, 905 - 18 December 967, 3rd Count of Norgau until 951
  12. Adalbert, c. 955 - aft. 1033, 1st Count of Metz in c. 890, Founder of the Monastery of Bougainville
  13. Gerard de Bouzonville, 2nd Count of Metz, c. 985 - 1045
  14. Gerard, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1028 - 1070; his older brother Adalbert, c. 1016 - 1048, 2nd? Count of Longwy, 1st Duke of Haute Lorraine from 1047 to 1048, was the patrilineal ancestor of the Counts of Burgundy and the Kings of Castile from the 12th century to the 15th century
  15. Theodoric II, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1055 - 1115
  16. Simon I, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1080 - 1138; his younger brother Thierry of Alsace, d. c. 1168, Count of Flanders, was the patrilineal ancestor of the House of Flanders
  17. Matthias I, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1110 - 1176
  18. Frederick I, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1140 - 1207
  19. Frederick II, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1165 - 1213
  20. Matthias II, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1192 - 1251
  21. Frederick III, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1230 - 1303
  22. Theobald II, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1260 - 1312
  23. Frederick IV, Duke of Lorraine, 1282 - 1328
  24. Rudolph, Duke of Lorraine, c. 1310 - 1346
  25. John I, Duke of Lorraine, 1346 - 1390
  26. Frederick of Lorraine, 1346 - 1390
  27. Antoine of Vaudémont, c. 1395 - 1431
  28. Frederick II of Vaudémont, 1417 - 1470
  29. René II, Duke of Lorraine, 1451 - 1508
  30. Antoine, Duke of Lorraine, 1489 - 1544
  31. Francis I, Duke of Lorraine, 1517 - 1545
  32. Charles III, Duke of Lorraine, 1543 - 1608
  33. Francis II, Duke of Lorraine, 1572 - 1632
  34. Nicholas II, Duke of Lorraine, Cardinal, 1609 - 1679
  35. Charles V, Duke of Lorraine, 1643 - 1690
  36. Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, 1679 - 1729
  37. Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1708 - 1765
  38. Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, 1747 - 1792
  39. Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, 1768 - 1835
  40. Archduke Franz Karl of Austria, 1802 - 1878
  41. Archduke Charles Louis of Austria, 1833 - 1896
  42. Archduke Otto Francis of Austria, 1865 - 1906
  43. Blessed Charles I of Austria, 1887 - 1922
  44. Otto von Habsburg, 1922 -

The descent before Gerard de Bouzonville is taken from a work published by Portuguese Genealogist Luís Paulo Manuel de Meneses de Melo Vaz de São Paio.



  • Gordon Brook-Shepherd Uncrowned Emperor - The Life and Times of Otto von Habsburg, Hambledon Continuum, London 2003. ISBN 1852855495.

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