Monday, January 12, 2009

Princess Stephanie abandoned by husband

January 12, 1903

The Chicago Tribune reports today that the Countess Lonyay, formerly the Crown Princess Stephanie of Austria, has been deserted by her husband, the Count of Lonyay, whom she married in 1900. The count abandoned Stephanie at Mentone, France, on January 7. His present whereabouts are unknown, according to the report.
Stephanie's marriage to Lonyay was "bitterly opposed" by her father, King Leopold II, and by her father-in-law, Emperor Franz Josef.
Viennese dispatches state that the Count "feels humiliated at being obliged to occupy a position secondary to that of his wife." He also fears "financial ruin in consequence of exorbitant expenditure." The countess, on the other hand, says she has proof of her husband's infidelity. Several days ago, the countess apparently told her doctor that, "owing to malaria, her husband was suffering from mental depression."
It is believed that the couple will now divorce.
As the widow of Crown Prince Rudolf, Stephanie received an annual income of $125,000, and an apartment in the imperial palace. She was convinced that the Austrian emperor and her father, would "contribute handsomely" to her maintenance, even after her second marriage. She was to be disappointed because the Emperor would only give her $25,000 a year, and King Leopold, who did not approve of her marriage, chose to stop giving her $10,000 a year.
Thus, Stephanie, with only one-fifth of her former income, tried to maintain her household, but has "found the task impossible." Stephanie also tried to use her daughter, Archduchess Elisabeth, to influence the emperor. The young Archduchess is said to be a favorite of her grandfather. Stephanie wanted to obtain permission to live in one of imperial palaces, where she would be "out of the reach of the creditors." Franz Josef granted her the use of a palace at Hetezendorff, near Vienna, but "this privilege expired" when Elisabeth married Prince Otto of Windisch-Graetz on January 3, 1902.
King Leopold III refuses to recognize Stephanie as his daughter, and would not permit her to attend the funeral of her mother, Queen Marie Henriette.

The New York Times reports that the story about Stephanie and her husband was first published in Die Zeit, an Viennese paper, and has since been repeated in other newspapers. But the report adds "that it is difficult to ascertain the exact truth of the statement that the Count de Lonyay has actually left the Countess." It has not been easy for the count since his marriage to Stephanie, due to the differences in their social station. It has been noted that when Stephanie has been paying "Imperial visits," her husband "was compelled to wait in a carriage outside."
Disputes and arguments, largely over money, started within the first year of the marriage. The Countess appeared unwilling or unable to "conform herself to the life of a simple countess," after years of "expensive traveling." The Count wanted to settle down in Budapest, where he has an estate, but Stephanie insisted on living in London, and maintaining an expensive lifestyle. Further problems arose when the count refused to sell his Hungarian estates in order to continue to maintain his wife's imperial lifestyle.
It is believed that the Countess has been able to borrow money from her daughter, Elisabeth, but during a recent visit in December to Elisabeth's home in Prague, Stephanie stayed only an hour, as Elisabeth refused to further help her mother. Elisabeth's husband has apparently interfered with his wife's role as an intermediary between Stephanie and the Emperor.
The former Austrian Crown Princess is described as "imperious, arrogant and insanely jealous."

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