Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Princess Elisabeth of Liechtenstein loves her cars

August 31, 1907

Princess Elisabeth of Liechtenstein loves motor cars, reports the Los Angeles Times.  The princess owns thirty-one motor cars and is "certainly the most enthusiastic motorist of all the imperial women in Europe.   The stables at her "beautiful castle at Stuhlweissenberg" in southwest Hungary has largely been converted to garages.  Stable boys have been replaced with chauffeurs and mechanics. 

She pursues her hobby rather "quietly and studiously."   The "great majority of the public" are not even aware of her large collection of motor cars.

The princess is the daughter of Archduchess Maria Theresa and niece of Emperor Franz Joseph.  Her "wonderful interest" in motor cars is unusual in the Imperial family, which has largely not "taken to this new means of locomotion."   The Emperor himself will "have nothing to do with motors and has never ridden in one."

Princess Elisabeth's half-brother, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne,  enjoys motoring, as does his cousin, Archduke Eugen, "who was snowed up in his car last winter when trying to reach his palace at Innsbruck."

The wealthiest member of the family, Archduke Friedrich, owns several cars, but most members of the Habsburg family have so far largely eschewed motoring.

Kaiser Wilhelm II's "enthusiasm" for motor cars is well known.  Austrian enthusiasts "frequently deplore"  Franz Joseph's aversion to "their wares as compared with the attitude of his imperial neighbor in Berlin."

Princess Elisabeth's husband, Prince Alois of Liechtenstein, does not share her enthusiasm.  He is a "man of studious habits."  Some describe him as a bookworm.

The head of the house of Liechtenstein "rules an odd little principality of that near the frontier of Switzerland."   The members of the princely family were always "considered as Austrian citizens" until Elisabeth's marriage in 1903.  At that time, Emperor Franz  Joseph decreed that the members of the Liechtenstein princely family "should henceforth be regarded as foreign princes." 

This action was taken in order for Elisabeth to retain her "rank and precedence as an archduchess," which she would have lost if she had married a subject of the Austrian empire.   Elisabeth did not want to lose her precedence so she persuaded her uncle to place her "husband's family in the category of foreign royalties."

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