Monday, May 17, 2010

Archduke Rudolph and Countess Xenia

The engagement between Archduke Rudolph of Austria and Miss Xenia Czernichev-Besobrasov, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sege Czernichev-Besobrasov of 61 East 95th Street, New York City, was announced on April 30, 1953. Archduke Rudolph, the youngest son of late Emperor Karl of Austria, made his home in Tuxedo Park, New York, where the wedding was scheduled to take place in late June 1953. He lived with his mother on a "large estate" in Tuxedo Park.

The bride-to-be, an alumna of Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, attended Smith College for two years. At the time of her engagement, she worked for Air France, and was based in New York City.

The couple were married on June 23, 1953 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Tuxedo Park, New York. The nuptial mass was performed by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. This was the first "imperial marriage in the United States," according to the United Press report.

One hundred and ten guests, including the groom's mother, Empress Zita, attended the wedding. Archduke Rudolph was a junior executive at Calvin Bullock, an American-Canadian banking firm in New York. He graduated from Laval University in Quebec.

The bride's father, Count Serge was a "Czarist courtier," who fled Russia during the revolution and settled in the United States.

Family members joined the bride and groom for a high mass in the private chapel on Zita's estate before heading to the wedding. The groom's eldest brother, Archduke Otto, and his wife, Regina, were unable to attend the wedding.
The bride had no attendants, but Prince Edward de Lobkowicz and his son, Prince Edward, were among the ushers.

The bride was escorted down the aisle by her father. She wore "a gown of ivory satin, cut along princess lines, embellished with rosepoint lace and made with a fitted bodice, long sleeves and a full skirt terminating in a long train," according to the New York Times report of the wedding.

Her veil was a 100-year-old heirloom, first worn by Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenberg at her marriage to Grand Duke Constantine in 1948. The veil was "arranged in cap fashion, with clusters of white blossoms at the side." She carried a bouquet of Easter Lilies."

The bridal procession made its way from the private chapel to the church, which included friends and family members Jean Hedrey, former Hungarian envoy of Belgium, who came to the United States in 1938 escorted Archduchess Charlotte, the bridegroom's sister; Count Henri Benenfeld, professor at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and a former tutor of the Austrian imperial family escorted Princess Bagration, the bride's sister. They were followed by Count Hilarion Woronzow-Dashkow and Archduchess Adelheid, another sister of the bridegroom; Prince Anthony de Ligne, Belgian Military Attache in Washington and Mrs. Alexander Besobrasov, sister-in-law of the bride; Prince Bagration, the bride's brother-in-law and Archduchess Yolande, the groom's sister-in-law; Archduke Carl Ludwig and Princess Vera of Russia; Alexander Czernichev-Besobrasov, the bride's brother, and Archduchess Anna Eugenie, the groom's sister-in-law, who were followed by Archduke Felix, the groom's brother, and the bride's mother, the bridegroom and his mother, and the bride and her father, who were the last in the procession.

The reception was held at Empress Zita's home, which was decorated with early summer flowers and Easter Lillies.

The honeymoon was spent in the South, and the newlyweds planned to make their home in New York.

Archduchess Xenia was killed in an automobile accident, near Soigny, France, in September 1968. Archduke Rudolph was "seriously injured," and was treated at a Soigny hospital. The couple were en route from their home in Brussels to Amiens, France, when their car collided with a truck.

Archduchess Xenia was 35 years old at the time of her death. She was buried at the Chateau Beloeil in Belgium. A memorial service was held at the royal palace at Laeken and was attended by King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola, Archduke Otto, and other members of the family. She was survived by her husband, their four children, her parents, her brother, and her sister, Princess Irene Bagration.
The archduchess' parents were visiting Brussels at the time of the accident

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