Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Archduke Felix (1916-2011)

Archduke Felix at 90  Marlene Eilers Koenig collectiomn
Archduke Felix was born several months before his father, Karl, succeeded Franz Joseph, as Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian empire.  As Austria was at war against the Allies,  the archduke's birth and baptism were largely unacknowledged by the American or British press.  He was named for his mother's brother, Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma, who later married Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg.
It was not until 1938, when the young archduke got his first press mention, although it was not for the right reasons.   On May 8, 1938, the Associated Press reported that Austrian German authorities issues an arrest warrant for Archduke Felix.

The 21-year-old archduke was "accused of the theft of $900 worth of silverware and linen," which prosecutors "charged he took as a cadet at the military academy of Wiener Neustedt, when he fled Austria" on March 11.

By the time the arrest warrant was issued, Felix was back in Belgium with his mother, former Empress Zita, and his eldest brother, Archduke Otto.  The new Austrian government had also recently issued an arrest warrant for Otto "on a charge of high treason."   
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One Vienna newspaper said that the "silverware was state property which had been loaned to the academy from the the Vienna imperial palace depository for the archduke's temporary use."

After the Imperial family's exile, the new Austrian republic took control of many of the Habsburgs' treasures.  Archduke Felix had fled Austria shortly after the Nazi invasion.

In 1939,  Archduke Felix traveled to the United States to give a talk, "The Reconstruction of Central Europe.  He gave the talk at the a meeting of the Chicago chapter of the Medievalists at the University Club in Chicago.  He was the first member of his family to visit the United States.  In February 1940, he was back in Chicago, to speak on the same topic at the Charles Carroll forum at the Palmer House.   The archduke outlined a plan "of a democratic Danubian federation as the best plan for the solution of a cultural, economic and political problems of the Balkan states.   Several days later, he gave the same lecture at Northwestern University's lecture series.

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Later that month, he was in Florida at the Boca Raton Club, to address members of the Round Table of the Students International Union.  In March 1940,  Felix was in Baltimore to welcome his brother, Archduke Otto, who arrived on the American clipper "to study American democracy as a model for a post-war central European federation of states."

The two brothers traveled to Washington, D.C., where they were introduced to government officials, and took tea with President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House.  They also visited the Senate and sat in the private gallery.  Majority Leader Barkley "called attention" to the archdukes' presence and "suggested that as a courtesy the senate rise in greeting."   The senators stood up, and the two brothers "acknowledged the greeting by bowing."

In July 1940, Former Empress Zita and her 19-year-old daughter, Archduchess Elisabeth, arrived at LaGuardia Airport in New York, where they were welcomed by Archduke Otto and Archduke Felix.

A month later,  Felix was back in the news when four men and two women were arrested on "a charge of grand larceny" in the theft of Archduke Felix's automobile.   The arrest came after an 85 mile an hour chase on East River Drive in New York City.  He appeared in court on August 13, where he identified his car, which had been stolen in front of his home at 10 Park Avenue.

Archduke Otto and Archduke Felix were the guests of honor at luncheons and dinners throughout their time in the United States.  Felix was also often invited to speak to different groups.  He arrived in Los Angeles in December 1940, but was "careful to avoid saying anything that sounds like monarchist propaganda."  He was in Southern California to begin a lecture series.  The Los Angeles Times noted that he made lectures in the United states in the last year, and would make 75 "this year."

He told a reporter that "lecturing never occurred to him until an American bureau suggested it soon after he arrived in Canada" with his mother and brother. 

The young archduke did not have a trust fund to fall back on. He earned his money in the USA by giving lectures.

The six-foot-archduke dressed on "the conservative collegiate side in Cambridge gray flannels."  His manner is frank, and "unusually articulate for his years."  At the Los Angeles Times noted:  "he has European history in his blood as well as his brains."

He spoke English "like an American, with not much Germanic flavor," with reporters at the Biltmore Hotel. 

"The war will last until the Germans run out of food and we do not know when that will be.  They have larger reserves than was thought, but sooner or later it will run out.  Russia hasn't enough food to supply them if the Russians would.  Then sooner or later will come the counterrevolution in the countries overrun by the Germans.  That revolution, I think, will be rather individualistic in its ideology than collectivist.

"In speaking of monarchy and hereditary aristocracy it is well to understand that many people in Europe who are, broadly speaking monarchists are also democrats in the sens that they stand for individual library and decision of public questions by elections. These and people are democratic in the American sense are combined in the fight against totalitarianism."

In April 1941,  Archduke Felix was fined $2.00 for a parking violation in New York City.  He pleaded guilty and paid the fine.

Felix arrived in Ecuador on November 12, 1941, for an official visit, "to get in touch with Austrian subjects," according to the New York Times.  In December, he was back in Los Angeles, after touring England and Latin America, meeting "Austrian groups in all major cities."

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A year later, on December 28, 1942,  it was announced that Felix and his brother, Carl Ludwig, would be "inducted into the [US] Army as volunteer soldiers." The induction took place at Fort Myer, Virginia.  They served briefly "until the Army unit of Austrians was disbanded."

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Felix got bumped from a Western Air Lines flight in Salt Lake City in November 1944, by "a sergeant with a travel priority." He was standing first in line to board the flight, when the sergeant showed his papers.  Felix had to give up his spot, and he was booked on the next day's flight.  When he finally arrived in Los Angeles, he said: "I didn't mind, except that I was cheated out of a day of California sunshine."

Embed from Getty Images Los Angeles as a stopover for the archduke, who was en route to Mexico City for "lecture engagements."

By the end of the second world war, Archduke Felix was back in London.   Through his brother, Archduke Robert, he died "he was planning a restoration of the Habsburg dynasty."

Felix's engagement to Princess Anna-Eugenie of Arenberg was officially announced on October 23, 1951.  Princess Anna-Eugenie studied veterinary medicine for five years, and also "served as a voluntary worker in missions for the protection of young girls."   The religious wedding took place on Beaulieu, France, on November 18.  They flew to New York City to spend their honeymoon in the United States.  They spent two weeks at the home of Felix's mother, Zita, in Tuxedo, New York, before "motoring to Mexico City."

The newlyweds settled in Mexico City. where Archduke Felix was employed as a banker.  Six of the couple's seven children were born in Mexico City.  Their first child, a daughter, Maria del Pilar, was born there on October 18, 1953.

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