Empress Zita of Austria

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Empress Zita of Austria, the Last Empress, was born on this day in 1892. The daughter of Robert I, Duke of Parma and his second wife, Princess Maria Antonia of Portugal, she had 11 siblings and 12 half-siblings. Educated in Bavaria and the UK, she grew up in magnificent castles in Vienna, Italy, and France. In 1911, she married Archduke Karl of Austria, second-in-line to the Austrian Throne. The couple had eight children, the youngest being born after his death. WWI was started after the assassination of his uncle, and the couple succeeded to the Throne as Emperor Karl and Empress Zita of Austria, King and Queen of Hungary in 1916. After the end of the war, the Emperor ‘released’ his people from his loyalty, and the family went into exile in Switzerland, eventually going to Madeira, after two failed attempts to regain the Hungarian Throne, where the Emperor died in 1922, leaving Empress Zita a 29-year old pregnant widow with eight children. Living in financial difficulty in Spain, Belgium, the US, and in Canada (during WWII), Empress Zita kept her family together. In 1952, she moved back to Europe, living in Switzerland and Luxembourg (then ruled by her sister-in-law). Allowed to return to Austria in 1982, she had memorable 90th and 95th Birthday celebrations, dying in 1989 at the age of 96 in Switzerland. Empress Zita is buried in the Imperial Crypt under the Capuchin Church in Vienna.

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For more information, check out:

Empress Zita’s Diamond Tiara

Emperor Karl and Empress Zita’s Coronation in Hungary

Empress Zita’s grandson, Archduke Karl von Hapsburg

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