Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Archduke Ludwig Viktor banished for "mysterious escapade"

March 3, 1906

There is much "eagerness and curiosity" among the court and diplomatic circles in Vienna, as they parse and discuss the "reports in circulation" about the future "ownership and occupancy" of Archduke Ludwig Viktor's "magnificent palace on the Schwarzenberg platz."

For some time the palace windows have been shrouded "with white blinds, the great entrance doors closed," and there are no security guards to watch over the home of Franz Joseph's only surviving brother.

Archduke Ludwig Viktor has been "banished forever from the Austrian court and capital," reports the Chicago Daily Tribune's foreign correspondent. The reason for the archduke's discomfiture remains a mystery, but it "seems certain that he will never occupy the palace again." He may not even own the palace due to his many debts, and there are rumors that his brother, Emperor, "has paid the debts and taken over the residence and its magnificent contents."

Ludwig Viktor is twelve years the Emperor's junior. Most of his life has been spent in Vienna, and he "was a familiar figure in the streets and at the opera and theaters." He also has an "unenviable reputation in Austrian society." The Viennese are very "tolerant of scandals in imperial and aristocratic circles," but Ludwig Viktor's "affairs" proved to be too much even for them.

The end of the archduke's social position in Vienna happened recently, although the Austrian newspapers were not able to publish the facts. The incident happened in the Centralbad, Vienna's "largest and finest bathhouse." The Archduke was a frequent visitor, where he went for a Turkish bath. It appears there was a row, and the Archduke "was knocked down by one of the bathers, an athletic young man of the middle classes."

According to witnesses, the young man's actions were justified, although Ludwig Viktor tried to use his "exalted" position to have the young man arrested. The police got involved, and thanks to the intervention of others, the innocent young man was released from jail.

Franz Joseph became "extremely angry" when he was informed of his brother's actions. Ludwig Viktor was "sent into the country," and will not be permitted to return to Vienna during his brother's lifetime. He has also been forced to resign his patronages, and most of his staff have been moved to other positions.
Archduke Ludwig Viktor is now "virtually ostracized" by society, and he now spends his summers at a castle in Bohemia, and winters in Meran "or some other southern resort.

Emperor Franz Joseph has not made any decisions on the future of his brother's palace, but there are rumors that he may turn over the palace to his youngest daughter, Archduchess Marie Valerie and her husband, Archduke Franz Salvator. As the couple does not have a home in Vienna, the palace "would be a welcome gift."

Archduchess Marie Valerie is "not popular among the liberal elements in Austria, who regard her as a hopeless clerical reactionary."

It is also possible that the palace will be offered to Archduke Karl, the elder son of Archduke Otto, who is second in line to the throne after Franz Ferdinand. Karl, 18, recently broke his leg while skating. It is possible that Karl, whose position was strengthened by his uncle's morganatic marriage, will "soon be set up with an establishment of his own."

Archduke Karl has also become the most eligible royal in Europe, now that King Alfonso XIII has become engaged to Princess Ena of Battenberg. Karl has not been linked with any suitable Catholic princess, but that will soon change, now that he has reached his majority.

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