Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Karl fails to regain throne



March 30, 1921


Former Austro-Hungarian emperor Karl I has failed in his attempt to regain his Hungarian throne, reports the Associated Press.   Last night the former emperor "held an agitated conference with friends and friendly opponents at the home of Bishop Count Mikes in Steinamanger," reports the Associated Press.
Karl gave them the details of his "quiet trip across the Swiss frontier and of his unexpected appearance in Hungary."  He said he had been advised by "his followers" that the "Hungarian people eagerly were waiting him."   He left Prangins, Switzerland, accompanied by Counts Erody, Hunyady and Almassy,  and slipped across the border near "the Austrian frontier."  Karl was dressed as a Tyrolean tourist. 

After leaving Switzerland, the party switched to a military car, and they were driven to Count Erody's estate in Austria, near Steinamanger.   From there, Karl "passed the Hungarian border Saturday night in a simple villager's car," and arrived at Steinamanger, where Bishop Mikes hid him in his castle.

Karl is reported to have told the Bishop:  "I have had enough of exile and deprivation and now am coming back as your liege lord.  I am convinced the population will receive me enthusiastically and rally round my banner."

Hungarian Premier Teleky tried to dissuade the former emperor by "pointing out the resentment of the Allies toward the Habsburgs."   But Karl continued to insist that he would travel to Budapest "in order to see who was courageous enough to touch the King's anointed person."  He added that he had received word from the French premier, M. Briand, who had told him that the Allies would now consider the question of the throne as an internal matter for Hungary.

Karl remained obstinate, and refused to be swayed.  On Sunday,  the former emperor's entourage, which included three cars, arrived early in the afternoon at the Premier's palace in Budapest, where he washed and changed from civilian clothes to a "General's uniform and attached the Hungarian colors to his sword."  He then walked to the royal palace and "demanded the key to the King's private rooms," which had been closed since he left Hungary.

His appearance has created great consternation in Budapest.  He demanded to see the Regent, Admiral Horthy, after being shown into the guests' waiting room.   "I want to see Admiral Horthy," he said.  "Call him to me."
The regent sent back a response:  "At present I am head of the Hungarian State.  Nobody has a right to send for me."

The Regent did agree to meet with Karl, and when the former King of Hungary entered the small room, he greeted Horthy "in a most friendly manner." He took from his pocket Hungary's highest military order: the Cross of Maria Theresa, and pinned on Horthy's breast.

Admiral Horthy accepted the order, but "firmly insisted that he was not willing to hand over power to Charles."  He also declared that "he would offer armed resistance" if Karl used force to overthrow "the present regime.  After talking for three hours with Horthy,  Karl left the palace with "tears in his eyes."  He agreed to leave the country immediately. 

By the time he arrived back at Steinamanger,  Karl changed his mind, and "declared he would not pass over the frontier."  He said he felt ill, and went to bed in the castle, "where at last accounts he was under guard."   He informed the Hungarian government that he would move to a neutral county, probably Spain.  Earlier today, Spain's representative in Hungary, Count Reale de Guarcia, told Horthy that Karl was now under "Spanish protection," and Spain "was offering its hospitality" to the former emperor.

The British, French and Italian High commissioners in Budapest met after Karl's visit, and reminded Horthy the Allies' opposition to the return of the Habsburgs to power.   Count Stefan Bethlen has been charged with acting for the Hungarian, and has gone to Steinamanger to effect  Karl's immediate departure.  Bishop Count Mikes has been arrested and charged "with being the head of the movement" to restore Karl to the Hungarian throne.

Hungary's War Minister, General Belitska, said today:  "The former King is not supported by the troops. The army, as one man, is standing behind Regent Horthy.  Karl is a prisoner, rather than a guest at Steinamanger."

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