Zita of Bourbon-Parma
Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma (Zita Maria delle Grazie Adelgonda Micaela Raffaela Gabriella Giuseppina Antonia Luisa Agnese; 9 May 1892 – 14 March 1989) was the wife of Emperor Charles of Austria. As such, she was the last Empress of Austria, Queen of Hungary, and Queen of Bohemia.

Born as the seventeenth child of the dispossessed Robert I, Duke of Parma
Robert I, Duke of Parma
Robert I was the last sovereign Duke of Parma and Piacenza from 1854 to 1859, when the duchy was annexed to Sardinia-Piedmont during the unification of Italy...

 and his second wife Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal
Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal
Infanta Maria Antónia of Portugal was a Portuguese infanta, the seventh and last child of Miguel I of Portugal and Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg.-Infanta of...

, Zita married the then Archduke Charles of Austria in 1911. Charles became heir presumptive
Heir Presumptive
An heir presumptive or heiress presumptive is the person provisionally scheduled to inherit a throne, peerage, or other hereditary honour, but whose position can be displaced by the birth of an heir or heiress apparent or of a new heir presumptive with a better claim to the position in question...

 to the Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria in 1914 after the assassination of his uncle Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and acceded to the throne in 1916 after the old emperor's death.

After the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 in 1918, the Habsburgs were deposed when the new countries of Austria
German Austria
Republic of German Austria was created following World War I as the initial rump state for areas with a predominantly German-speaking population within what had been the Austro-Hungarian Empire, without the Kingdom of Hungary, which in 1918 had become the Hungarian Democratic Republic.German...

, Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 and the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs
State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs
The State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was a short-lived state formed from the southernmost parts of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy after its dissolution at the end of the World War I by the resident population of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs...

 were formed. Charles and Zita left for exile in Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, and later Madeira
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that lies between and , just under 400 km north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union...

 where Charles died in 1922. After her husband's death, Zita and her son Otto
Otto von Habsburg
Otto von Habsburg , also known by his royal name as Archduke Otto of Austria, was the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary from 1916 until the dissolution of the empire in 1918, a realm which comprised modern-day Austria, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia,...

 served as the symbols of unity for the exiled dynasty. A devout Catholic, she raised a large family after being widowed at the age of 29, and never remarried.

Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 689 Zita
689 Zita
-External links:*...

 is named in her honour.

Early life

Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma was born at the Villa Pianore in the Italian Province of Lucca
Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plainnear the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca...

, 9 May 1892. The unusual name Zita was given her after a popular Italian Saint
Saint Zita was an Italian saint, the patron saint of maids and domestic servants. She is also appealed to in order to help find lost keys.-Life:...

 who had lived in Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

 in the 13th century. She was the third daughter and fifth child of the deposed Robert I, Duke of Parma
Robert I, Duke of Parma
Robert I was the last sovereign Duke of Parma and Piacenza from 1854 to 1859, when the duchy was annexed to Sardinia-Piedmont during the unification of Italy...

 and his second wife, Maria Antonia of Portugal, a daughter of king Miguel of Portugal
Miguel of Portugal
Dom Miguel I, sometimes Michael , was the King of Portugal between 1828 and 1834, the seventh child and second son of King John VI and his queen, Charlotte of Spain....

 and Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg
Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg
Princess Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg was the wife of King Miguel of Portugal but only following his deposition. As a widow, she secured advantageous marriages for their six daughters.-Family:...

. Zita's father had lost his throne as a result of the movement for Italian unification
Italian unification
Italian unification was the political and social movement that agglomerated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century...

 in 1859 when he was still a child. He fathered twelve children during his first marriage to Maria Pia of the Two Sicilies (six of whom were mentally retarded, and three of whom died young). Duke Robert became a widower in 1882, and two years later he married Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal, Zita's mother. The second marriage produced a further twelve children. Zita was the 17th child among Duke Robert's 24 children. Robert moved his large family between Villa Pianore (a large property located between Pietrasanta
Pietrasanta is a town and comune on the coast of northern Tuscany in Italy, in the province of Lucca. Pietrasanta is part of Versilia, on the last foothills of the Apuan Alps, about 32 km north of Pisa...

 and Viareggio
Viareggio is a city and comune located in northern Tuscany, Italy, on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. With a population of over 64,000 it is the main centre of the northern Tuscan Riviera known as Versilia, and the second largest city within the Province of Lucca.It is known as a seaside resort...

) and his castle in Schwarzau in lower Austria. It was mainly in these two residences that Zita spent her formative years. The family spent most of the year in Austria moving to Pianore in the Winter and returning in the Summer. To move between them, they took a special train
A train is a connected series of vehicles for rail transport that move along a track to transport cargo or passengers from one place to another place. The track usually consists of two rails, but might also be a monorail or maglev guideway.Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate...

 with sixteen coaches to accommodate the family and their belongings.
Zita and her siblings were raised to speak Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

She recalled, "We grew up internationally. My father thought of himself first and foremost as a Frenchman, and spent a few weeks every year with the elder children at Chambord
Château de Chambord
The royal Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures.The building, which was never...

, his main property on the Loire
Loire is an administrative department in the east-central part of France occupying the River Loire's upper reaches.-History:Loire was created in 1793 when after just 3½ years the young Rhône-et-Loire department was split into two. This was a response to counter-Revolutionary activities in Lyon...

. I once asked him how we should describe ourselves. He replied, 'We are French princes who reigned in Italy.' In fact, of the twenty-four children only three including me, were actually born in Italy.

At the age of ten, Zita was sent to a boarding school at Zanberg in Upper Bavaria
Upper Bavaria
Upper Bavaria is one of the seven administrative regions of Bavaria, Germany.- Geography :Upper Bavaria is located in the southern portion of Bavaria, and is centered around the city of Munich. It is subdivided into four regions : Ingolstadt, Munich, Bayerisches Oberland , and Südostoberbayern...

, where there was a strict regime of study and religious instruction. She was summoned home in the autumn of 1907 at the death of her father. Her maternal grandmother sent Zita and her sister Franziska to a convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

 on the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

 to complete her education. Brought up as devout Catholics, the Parma children regularly undertook good works for the poor. In Schwarzau the family turned surplus cloth into clothes. Zita and Franziska personally distributed food, clothing, and medicines to the needy in Pianore. Three of Zita's sisters became nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s and, for a time, she considered following the same path. Zita went through a patch of poor health and was sent for the traditional cure at a European spa
The term spa is associated with water treatment which is also known as balneotherapy. Spa towns or spa resorts typically offer various health treatments. The belief in the curative powers of mineral waters goes back to prehistoric times. Such practices have been popular worldwide, but are...

 for two years.


In the close vicinity of Schwarzau castle was the Villa Wartholz, residence of Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria
Princess Maria Theresa of Braganza
Infanta Maria Theresa of Portugal was a Princess of the House of Braganza. She became by marriage an Archduchess of Austria and the sister-in-law of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.-Early life:...

, Zita’s maternal aunt. She was the stepmother of Archduke Otto
Archduke Otto Franz of Austria
-Marriage and issue:On October 2, 1886, he married Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony, daughter of King George of Saxony. They had two sons:* Archduke Karl Franz of Austria , who became the last Emperor of Austria and had issue....

, who died in 1906, and the step-grandmother of Archduke Charles of Austria-Este, at that time second-in-line to the Austrian throne. The two daughters of Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria were Zita’s first cousins and Charles’ half-aunts. They had met as children but did not see one another for almost ten years, as each pursued their education. In 1909, his Dragoon
The word dragoon originally meant mounted infantry, who were trained in horse riding as well as infantry fighting skills. However, usage altered over time and during the 18th century, dragoons evolved into conventional light cavalry units and personnel...

 regiment was stationed at Brandeis on the Elbe, from where he visited his aunt at Franzensbad
Františkovy Lázne
Františkovy Lázně is a town in Cheb District of Karlovy Vary Region in the western Bohemia , near the town of Cheb with about 5,200 inhabitants....

. It was during one of these visits that Charles and Zita became reacquainted. Charles was under pressure to marry (Franz Ferdinand
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Franz Ferdinand was an Archduke of Austria-Este, Austro-Hungarian and Royal Prince of Hungary and of Bohemia, and from 1889 until his death, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. His assassination in Sarajevo precipitated Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia...

, his uncle and first-in-line, had married morganatically
Morganatic marriage
In the context of European royalty, a morganatic marriage is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which prevents the passage of the husband's titles and privileges to the wife and any children born of the marriage...

, and his children were excluded from the throne) and Zita had a suitably royal genealogy. Zita later recalled, "We were of course glad to meet again and became close friends. On my side feelings developed gradually over the next two years. He seemed to have made his mind up much more quickly, however, and became even more keen when, in the autumn of 1910, rumours spread about that I had got engaged to a distant Spanish relative, Don Jaime, the Duke of Madrid. On hearing this, the Archduke came down post haste from his regiment at Brandeis and sought out his grandmother, Archduchess Maria Theresa, who was also my aunt and the natural confidante in such matters. He asked if the rumor was true and when told it was not, he replied, 'Well, I had better hurry in any case or she will get engaged to someone else.'"

Archduke Charles traveled to Villa Pianore and asked for Zita’s hand and, on 13 June 1911, their engagement was announced at the Austrian court. Zita in later years recalled that after her engagement she had expressed to Charles her worries about the fate of the Austrian Empire and the challenges of the monarchy. Charles and Zita were married at the Schwarzau castle on 21 October 1911. Charles's great-uncle, the 81-year-old Emperor Franz Joseph
Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I was Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow from 1848 until his death in 1916.In the December of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria abdicated the throne as part of...

 attended and, relieved to see an heir make a suitable marriage, was in good spirits, even leading the toast at the wedding breakfast. Archduchess Zita soon conceived a son, and Otto
Otto von Habsburg
Otto von Habsburg , also known by his royal name as Archduke Otto of Austria, was the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary from 1916 until the dissolution of the empire in 1918, a realm which comprised modern-day Austria, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia,...

 was born 20 November 1912. Seven more children would follow in the next decade.

Wife of the heir to Austrian throne

At this time, Archduke Charles was in his twenties and did not expect to become emperor for some time, especially while Franz Ferdinand remained in good health. This changed on 28 June 1914 when the heir and his wife Sophie
Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg
Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg ; 1 March 1868 – 28 June 1914) was a Czech aristocrat, the morganatic wife of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Their assassination sparked World War I.- Early life :...

 were assassinated in Sarajevo
Sarajevo |Bosnia]], surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated along the Miljacka River in the heart of Southeastern Europe and the Balkans....

 by Bosnian Serb
Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina are people of Serb ethnicity inhabiting the Balkan regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or, since the establishment of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state in the 1990s, the Serbs who have its citizenship. The Serbs are one of the three constitutive nations of this...

 nationalists. Charles and Zita received the news by telegram that day. She said of her husband, "Though it was a beautiful day, I saw his face go white in the sun.

In the war
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 that followed, Charles was promoted to General in the Austrian army, taking command of the 20th Corps for an offensive in Tyrol
Tyrol (state)
Tyrol is a state or Bundesland, located in the west of Austria. It comprises the Austrian part of the historical region of Tyrol.The state is split into two parts–called North Tyrol and East Tyrol–by a -wide strip of land where the state of Salzburg borders directly on the Italian province of...

. The war was personally difficult for Zita, as several of her brothers fought on opposing sides in the conflict (Prince Felix
Felix of Bourbon-Parma
Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma , later Prince Félix of Luxembourg, was the husband of Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and the father of her six children, including Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg.-Early life:Prince Félix was one of the...

 and Prince René
Prince René of Bourbon-Parma
Prince René of Bourbon-Parma was the seventh surviving son of Robert I, Duke of Parma, and his second wife, Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal...

 had joined the Austrian army, while Prince Sixtus and Prince Xavier
Xavier, Duke of Parma
Xavier, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, known before 1974 as Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma was the head of the ducal House of Bourbon-Parma, pretender to the defunct throne of Parma, and Carlist claimant to the throne of Spain under the name Javier I.-Early life:Xavier...

 lived in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 before the war and enlisted in the Belgian
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 army. Also her country of birth, Italy, joined the war against Austria in 1915, and so rumours of the 'Italian' Zita began to be muttered. Even as late as 1917, The German ambassador in Vienna, Count Otto Wedel would write to Berlin saying "The Empress is descended from an Italian princely house... People do not entirely trust the Italian and her brood of relatives."
At Franz Joseph's request, Zita and her children left their residence at Hetzendorf and moved into a suite of rooms at Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial 1,441-room Rococo summer residence in Vienna, Austria. One of the most important cultural monuments in the country, since the 1960s it has been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna...

. Here, Zita spent many hours with the old Emperor on both formal and informal occasions, where Franz Joseph confided in her his fears for the future. Emperor Franz Joseph died of bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is an inflammation of the large bronchi in the lungs that is usually caused by viruses or bacteria and may last several days or weeks. Characteristic symptoms include cough, sputum production, and shortness of breath and wheezing related to the obstruction of the inflamed airways...

 and pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 at the age of 86 on 21 November 1916. "I remember the dear plump figure of Prince Lobkowitz going up to my husband," Zita later recounted, "and, with tears in his eyes, making the sign of the cross on Charles's forehead. As he did so he said, 'May God bless Your Majesty.' It was the first time we had heard the Imperial title used to us."

Empress and Queen

Charles and Zita were crowned in Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

 on 30 December 1916. Following the coronation
Coronation of the Hungarian monarch
The Coronation of the Hungarian Monarch was a ceremony in which the King or Queen of the Kingdom of Hungary was formally crowned and invested with regalia...

 there was a banquet, but after that the festivities ended, as the emperor and empress thought it wrong to have prolonged celebrations during a time of war. At the beginning of the reign, Charles was more often than not away from Vienna, so he had a telephone line installed from Baden (where Charles's military headquarters were located) to the Hofburg. He called Zita several times a day whenever they were separated. Zita had some influence on her husband and would discreetly attend audiences with the Prime Minister or military briefings, and she had a special interest in social policy. However, military matters were the sole domain of Charles. Energetic and strong-willed, Zita accompanied her husband to the provinces and to the front, as well as occupying herself with charitable works and hospital visits to the war-wounded.

The Sixtus Affair

By now, the War was dragging on towards its fourth year, and Zita's brother Sixtus, who served in the Belgian Army, was a main mover behind a plan for Austria-Hungary to make a separate peace with France. Charles initiated contact with the Prince via contacts in neutral Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, and Zita wrote a letter inviting him to Vienna. Zita's mother Maria Antonia delivered the letter personally.

Sixtus arrived with French-agreed conditions for talks — the restoration to France of Alsace-Lorraine
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east...

 (annexed by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 in 1870); restoration of the independence of Belgium; independence for the kingdom of Serbia; and the handover of Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 to Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. Charles agreed, in principle, to the first three points and wrote a letter dated 25 March 1917, to Sixtus giving "the secret and unofficial message that I will use all means and all my personal influence" to the President of France. This attempt at dynastic diplomacy eventually foundered. Germany refused to negotiate over Alsace-Lorraine, and, seeing a Russian collapse on the horizon, was loath to give up the war. Sixtus continued his efforts, even meeting with Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 about Italy's territorial demands on Austria in the Treaty of London, but the Prime Minister could not persuade his generals to make peace with Austria. Zita managed a personal achievement during this time by stopping the German plans to send airplanes to bomb the home of the King
Albert I of Belgium
Albert I reigned as King of the Belgians from 1909 until 1934.-Early life:Born Albert Léopold Clément Marie Meinrad in Brussels, he was the fifth child and second son of Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, and his wife, Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen...

 and Queen of Belgium on their name day
Name day
A name day is a tradition in many countries in Europe and Latin America that consists of celebrating the day of the year associated with one's given name....


In April 1918, after the German-Russian Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

, Austrian Foreign Minister Count Ottokar Czernin made a speech attacking incoming French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau
Georges Clemenceau
Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. For nearly the final year of World War I he led France, and was one of the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles at the...

 as being the main obstacle to a peace favouring the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

. Clemenceau was incensed and, on finding Emperor Charles's 24 March 1917 letter, had it published. For a while, the life of Sixtus appeared to be in danger and there were fears that Germany might occupy Austria. Czernin persuaded Charles to send a 'Word of Honour' to Austria's allies saying that Sixtus had not been authorised to show the letter to the French Government, that Belgium had not been mentioned, and Clemenceau had lied about the mentioning of the Alsace. Czernin had actually been in contact with the German Embassy throughout the whole crisis, and was attempting to persuade the Emperor to step down because of the Affair. After this failed, Czernin resigned..

End of Empire

By this time, the war was closing in on the embattled Emperor. A Union of Czech Deputies had already sworn an oath to a new Czechoslovak state independent of the Habsburg Empire on 13 April 1918, the prestige of the German Army had taken a severe blow at the Battle of Amiens, and, on 25 September 1918, King Ferdinand
Ferdinand I of Bulgaria
Ferdinand , born Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry, was the ruler of Bulgaria from 1887 to 1918, first as knyaz and later as tsar...

 of Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 broke away from his allies in the Central Powers and sued for peace independently. Zita was with Charles when he received the telegram of Bulgaria's collapse. She remembered it "made it even more urgent to start peace talks with the Western Powers while there was still something to talk about. On 16 October, the emperor issued a "People's Manifesto" proposing the empire be restructured on federal lines with each nationality gaining its own state. Instead, each nation broke away and the empire effectively dissolved.

Leaving behind their children at Gödöllő
Gödöllő is a town situated in Pest county, Budapest metropolitan area, Hungary, about northeast from the outskirts of Budapest. Its population is about 31,000 according to the 2001 census. It can be easily reached from Budapest with the suburban railway . Gödöllő is home to the Szent István...

, Charles and Zita travelled to the Schönbrunn Palace. By this time ministers had been appointed by the new state of "German-Austria", and by 11 November, together with the emperor's spokesmen, they prepared a manifesto for Charles to sign. Zita, at first glance, mistook it for an abdication and made her famous statement "A sovereign can never abdicate. He can be deposed... All right. That is force. But abdicate — never, never, never! I would rather fall here at your side. Then there would be Otto. And even if all of us here were killed, there would still be other Habsburgs!" Charles gave his permission for the document to be published, and he, his family and the remnants of his Court departed for the Royal shooting lodge at Eckartsau
Eckartsau is a town in the district of Gänserndorf in the Austrian state of Lower Austria.- Subdivisions :* Eckartsau* Kopfstetten* Pframa* Wagram an der Donau* Witzelsdorf- See also :* Schloss Eckartsau * Marchegger Ostbahn...

, close to the borders with Hungary and Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

. The Republic of German-Austria
German Austria
Republic of German Austria was created following World War I as the initial rump state for areas with a predominantly German-speaking population within what had been the Austro-Hungarian Empire, without the Kingdom of Hungary, which in 1918 had become the Hungarian Democratic Republic.German...

 was pronounced the next day.


After a difficult few months at Eckartsau, the Imperial Family received aid from an unexpected source. Prince Sixtus had met with King George V of the United Kingdom
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

 and appealed to him to help the Habsburgs. George was reportedly moved by the request (it being mere months since his cousin Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 had been executed by revolutionaries) and promised "We will immediately do what is necessary."

Several British Army officers were sent to help Charles, most notably Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lisle Strutt
Edward Lisle Strutt
Lt-Col. Edward Lisle Strutt CBE, DSO was an English soldier and mountaineer, and President of the Alpine Club from 1935–38.-Family:...

 (a grandson of Lord Belper
Edward Strutt, 1st Baron Belper
Edward Strutt, 1st Baron Belper PC, FRS , was a British Liberal Party politician. He served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster from 1852 to 1854 under Lord Aberdeen.-Background and education:...

). On 19 March 1919, orders were received from the War Office to "get the Emperor out of Austria without delay". With some difficulty, Strutt managed to arrange a train to Switzerland, and enabling the Emperor to leave the country with dignity and without him having to abdicate. Charles, Zita, their children and their household departed on 24 March.

Hungary and exile in Madeira

The family's first home in exile was Wartegg Castle in Rorschach, Switzerland, a property owned by the Bourbon-Parmas. However, the Swiss authorities, worried about the implication of the Habsburgs living near the Austrian border, compelled them to move to the western part of the country. The next month, therefore, found them moving to Villa Prangins, near Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva or Lake Léman is a lake in Switzerland and France. It is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. 59.53 % of it comes under the jurisdiction of Switzerland , and 40.47 % under France...

, where they resumed a quiet family life. This abruptly ended in March 1920 when, after a period of instability in Hungary, Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the interwar years and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. Horthy was styled "His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary" .Admiral Horthy was an officer of the...

 was elected regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

. Charles was still technically King (as Charles IV) but Horthy sent an emissary to Prangins advising him not to go to Hungary until the situation had calmed. After the Trianon Treaty Horthy's ambition soon grew. Charles became concerned and requested the help of Colonel Strutt to get him into Hungary. Charles twice attempted to regain control, once in March 1921 and again in October 1921. Both attempts failed, despite Zita's staunch support (she insisted on travelling with him on the final dramatic train journey to Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...


Charles and Zita temporarily resided at Castle Tata, the home of Count Esterházy
Móric Esterházy
Count Móric Esterházy de Galántha et Fraknó was a Hungarian aristocrat and politician who served as prime minister for a few months during World War I, after the fall of István Tisza...

, until a suitable permanent exile could be found. Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 was mooted as a possibility, but was declined by Lord Curzon
George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston
George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, KG, GCSI, GCIE, PC , known as The Lord Curzon of Kedleston between 1898 and 1911 and as The Earl Curzon of Kedleston between 1911 and 1921, was a British Conservative statesman who was Viceroy of India and Foreign Secretary...

, and French territory was ruled out due to the possibility of Zita's brothers intriguing on Charles's behalf. Eventually, the Portuguese island of Madeira
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that lies between and , just under 400 km north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union...

 was chosen. On 31 October 1921, the former Imperial couple were taken by rail from Tihany
Tihany is a village on the northern shore of Lake Balaton on the Tihany Peninsula . The whole peninsula is a historical district....

 to Baja
Baja, Hungary
Baja is a city in , southern Hungary. It is the second largest city in the county, after the county seat at Kecskemét, and is home to around 37,000 people....

 where the British monitor
Monitor (warship)
A monitor was a class of relatively small warship which was neither fast nor strongly armoured but carried disproportionately large guns. They were used by some navies from the 1860s until the end of World War II, and saw their final use by the United States Navy during the Vietnam War.The monitors...

 HMS Glow-worm was waiting. They finally arrived at Funchal
Funchal is the largest city, the municipal seat and the capital of Portugal's Autonomous Region of Madeira. The city has a population of 112,015 and has been the capital of Madeira for more than five centuries.-Etymology:...

 on 19 November. The children were being looked after at Wartegg Castle in Switzerland by Charles's step-grandmother Maria Theresa, although Zita managed to see them in Zurich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

 when her son Robert needed an operation for appendicitis
Appendicitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the appendix. It is classified as a medical emergency and many cases require removal of the inflamed appendix, either by laparotomy or laparoscopy. Untreated, mortality is high, mainly because of the risk of rupture leading to...

. The children joined their parents in Madeira in February 1922.

Death of Charles

Charles had been in poor health for some time. After going shopping on a chilly day in Funchal to buy toys for Carl Ludwig, he was struck by an attack of bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is an inflammation of the large bronchi in the lungs that is usually caused by viruses or bacteria and may last several days or weeks. Characteristic symptoms include cough, sputum production, and shortness of breath and wheezing related to the obstruction of the inflamed airways...

. This rapidly worsened into pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

, not helped by the inadequate medical care available. Several of the children and staff were also ill, and Zita (at the time eight months pregnant) helped nurse them all. Charles weakened and died on 1 April, his last words to his wife being "I love you so much." After his funeral, a witness said of Zita "This woman really is to be admired. She did not, for one second, lose her composure... she greeted the people on all sides and then spoke to those who had helped out with the funeral. They were all under her charm." Zita wore mourning black in Charles's memory throughout her 67 long years of widowhood.


After Charles's death, the former Austrian imperial family were soon to move again. Alfonso XIII of Spain
Alfonso XIII of Spain
Alfonso XIII was King of Spain from 1886 until 1931. His mother, Maria Christina of Austria, was appointed regent during his minority...

 had approached the British Foreign Office via his ambassador in London, and they agreed to allow Zita and her seven (soon to be eight) children relocate to Spain. Alfonso duly sent the warship Infanta Isabel to Funchal and this took them to Cadiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

. They were then escorted to the Pardo Palace
El Pardo
The Royal Palace of El Pardo is a historical building near Madrid, Spain, in the present-day district of Fuencarral-El Pardo. Owned by the Spanish state and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional agency, the palace began as a hunting lodge.-Overview:...

 in Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, where shortly after her arrival Zita gave birth to a posthumous child, Archduchess Elisabeth
Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria (1922–1993)
Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria was a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. She was the youngest daughter of Charles I, the last Emperor of Austria, and his wife Zita of Bourbon-Parma.-Family and early life:...

. Alfonso XIII offered his exiled Habsburg relatives the use of Palacio Uribarren at Lekeitio
Lekeitio is a town and municipality located in the province of Biscay, in the Spanish Autonomous Community of Basque Country, 53 km northeast from Bilbao. The municipality has 7,293 inhabitants and is one of the most important fishing ports of the Basque coast...

 in the Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

. This appealed to Zita, who did not want to be a heavy burden to the state that harbored her. For the next six years Zita settled in Lekeitio, where she got on with the job of raising and educating her children. They lived with straitened finances, mainly living on income from private property in Austria, income from a vineyard in Johannisberg
Johannisberg is a village in Hessen, Germany. It is part of the city of Geisenheim in the Rheingau, on the right bank of the Rhine, 6 m. S. of Rüdesheim by railway....

, and voluntary collections. Other members of the exiled Habsburg dynasty, however, claimed much of this money, and there were regular petitions for help from former Imperial officials.

Move to Belgium

By 1929, several of the children were approaching the age to attend university and the family sought to move somewhere of a more congenial educational climate than Spain. That September, they moved to the Belgian village of Steenokkerzeel
Steenokkerzeel is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. The municipality comprises the towns of Melsbroek, Perk and Steenokkerzeel proper. On December 31, 2010 Steenokkerzeel had a total population of 11,580. The total area is 23.46 km² which gives a population density...

 near Brussels, where they were closer to several members of their family. Zita continued her political lobbying on behalf of the Habsburg family, even sounding out links with Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

's Italy. There was even a possibility of a Habsburg restoration under the Austrian Chancellors Engelbert Dollfuss
Engelbert Dollfuss
Engelbert Dollfuss was an Austrian Christian Social and Patriotic Front statesman. Serving previously as Minister for Forest and Agriculture, he ascended to Federal Chancellor in 1932 in the midst of a crisis for the conservative government...

 and Kurt Schuschnigg
Kurt Schuschnigg
Kurt Alois Josef Johann Schuschnigg was Chancellor of the First Austrian Republic, following the assassination of his predecessor, Dr. Engelbert Dollfuss, in July 1934, until Germany’s invasion of Austria, , in March 1938...

, with Crown Prince Otto visiting Austria numerous times. These overtures were abruptly ended by the annexation
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

 of Austria by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 in 1938. As exiles, the Habsburg family took the lead in resisting
Austrian resistance
The Austrian resistance to the Nazi rule that started with the Anschluss in 1938 had a prehistory of socialist and communist activism against the era of Austrofascism from 1934. These activists, limited primarily to adherents of the political far left, operated in isolation from the Austrian...

 the Nazis in Austria, but this foundered because of opposition between monarchists and socialists.

Flight to America

With the Nazi invasion of Belgium on 10 May 1940, Zita and her family became war refugees. They narrowly missed being killed by a direct hit on the castle by German bombers and fled to Prince Xavier's French Castle in Bostz. With the assumption of power by the collaborationist government of Philippe Pétain
Philippe Pétain
Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain , generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain , was a French general who reached the distinction of Marshal of France, and was later Chief of State of Vichy France , from 1940 to 1944...

, the Habsburgs fled to the Spanish border, reaching it on 18 May. They moved on to Portugal where the U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Government granted the family exit visas on 9 July. After a perilous journey they arrived in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 on 27 July, having family in Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

 and Newark, New Jersey
Newark, New Jersey
Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

.; at one point, Zita and several of her children lived, as long-term house-guests, in Tuxedo Park
Tuxedo Park, New York
Tuxedo Park is a village in Orange County, New York, United States. The population was 731 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New York–Newark–Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined...

, at Suffern, New York.

The Austrian imperial refugees eventually settled in Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, which had the advantage of being French-speaking (the younger children were not yet fluent in English). As they were cut off from all European funds, finances were more stretched than ever. At one stage, Zita was reduced to making salad and spinach
Spinach is an edible flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant , which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions...

 dishes from dandelion leaves. However, all her sons were active in the war effort. Otto promoted the dynasty's role in a post-war Europe and met regularly with Franklin Roosevelt; Robert was the Habsburg representative in London; Carl Ludwig and Felix joined the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, serving with several American-raised relatives of the Mauerer line; Rudolf smuggled himself into Austria in the final days of the war to help organise the resistance. In 1945 Empress Zita celebrated her birthday on the first day of peace, 9 May. She was to spend the next two years touring the United States and Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 to raise funds for war-ravaged Austria and Hungary.


After a period of rest and recovery, Zita found herself regularly going back to Europe for the weddings of her children. She decided to move back to the continent full time, in 1952, to Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, in order to look after her aging mother. Maria Antonia died at the age of 96 in 1959. The bishop of Chur
Chur or Coire is the capital of the Swiss canton of Graubünden and lies in the northern part of the canton.-History:The name "chur" derives perhaps from the Celtic kora or koria, meaning "tribe", or from the Latin curia....

 proposed to Zita that she move into a residence that he administered (formerly a castle of the Counts de Salis
Jerome, 2nd Count de Salis
Jérôme de Salis, 2nd Count de Salis-Soglio was a Fellow of the Royal Society, and sometime British Resident in the Grisons...

) at Zizers
Zizers is a municipality in the district of Landquart in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. Zita of Bourbon-Parma, Empress of Austria-Hungary died in Zizers.-Geography:...

, Graubünden
Graubünden or Grisons is the largest and easternmost canton of Switzerland. The canton shares borders with the cantons of Ticino, Uri, Glarus and St. Gallen and international borders with Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein...

 in Switzerland. As the castle had enough space for visits from her large family, and a nearby chapel
A chapel is a building used by Christians as a place of fellowship and worship. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a church, college, hospital, palace, prison or funeral home, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building,...

 (a necessity for the devoutly Catholic Zita), she accepted with ease.

Zita occupied her final years with her family. Although the restrictions on the Habsburgs entering Austria had been lifted, this only applied to those born after 10 April 1919. This meant Zita could not attend the funeral of her daughter Adelheid in 1972, which was painful for her. She also involved herself in the efforts to have her deceased husband, the "Peace Emperor" canonised
Canonization is the act by which a Christian church declares a deceased person to be a saint, upon which declaration the person is included in the canon, or list, of recognized saints. Originally, individuals were recognized as saints without any formal process...

. In 1982, the restrictions were eased, and she returned to Austria after having been absent for six decades. Over the next few years, the Empress made several visits to her former Austrian homeland, even appearing on Austrian television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

. In a series of interviews with the Viennese tabloid newspaper Kronen Zeitung
Kronen Zeitung
The Kronen Zeitung, commonly known as the Krone, is Austria's largest newspaper. According to a Österreichische Media-Analyse study, the average daily readership is 2,970,000 , which corresponds to 43,7% of all newspaper readers...

, Zita expressed her belief that the deaths of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria
Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria
Rudolf , archduke of Austria and crown prince of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia, was the son and heir of Franz Joseph I, emperor of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia, and his wife and empress, Elisabeth...

 and his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera
Baroness Mary Vetsera
Baroness Marie Alexandrine von Vetsera was a member of Austrian high society nobility and one of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria's mistresses...

, at Mayerling, in 1889, were not a double suicide, but rather murder by French or Austrian agents.


After a memorable 90th birthday, where she was surrounded by her now vast family, Zita's strong health began to fail. She developed inoperable cataract
A cataract is a clouding that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye or in its envelope, varying in degree from slight to complete opacity and obstructing the passage of light...

s in both eyes. Her last big family gathering took place at Zizers
Zizers is a municipality in the district of Landquart in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. Zita of Bourbon-Parma, Empress of Austria-Hungary died in Zizers.-Geography:...

, in 1987, when her children and grandchildren joined in celebrating Empress Zita's 95th birthday. While visiting her daughter, in summer 1988, she developed pneumonia and spent most of the autumn and winter bedridden. Finally, she called Otto, in early March 1989, and told him she was dying. He and the rest of the family travelled to her bedside and took turns keeping her company until she died in the early hours of 14 March 1989. She was 96 years old.

Her funeral was held in Vienna on 1 April. The government allowed it to take place
on Austrian soil providing that the cost was borne by the Habsburgs themselves. Zita's body was carried to the Kapuziner Crypt
Imperial Crypt, Vienna
The Imperial Crypt in Vienna, Austria lies below the Capuchin Church and monastery founded in 1618 and dedicated in 1632. It is on the Neuer Markt square of the Innere Stadt, near the imperial Hofburg Palace...

 in the same funeral coach she had walked behind during the funeral of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1916. It was attended by over 200 members of the Habsburg and Bourbon-Parma families, and the service had 6,000 attendees including leading politicians, state officials and international representatives, including a representative of Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

. Following an ancient custom, the Empress had asked that her heart, which was placed in an urn, stay behind at the monastery of Muri
Muri Abbey
Muri Abbey was a Benedictine monastery dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. It flourished for over eight centuries at Muri, in the Canton of Aargau, near Basle in Switzerland...

, in Switzerland, where the Emperor's heart had rested for decades. In doing so, Zita assured herself that, in death, she and her husband would remain by each other's side.

When the procession of mourners arrived at the gates of the Imperial Crypt, the herald who knocked on the door during this traditional "admission ceremony" introduced her as Zita, Her Majesty the Empress and Queen.

Cause of beatification

On 10 December 2009, Mgr Yves Le Saux, Bishop of Le Mans
Roman Catholic Diocese of Le Mans
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Le Mans , is a Roman Catholic Latin Rite diocese of France. The diocese is a suffragan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Rennes.-Area:It comprises the entire department of Sarthe...

, France, opened the diocesan process for the beatification
Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name . Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process...

 of Zita. Normally the diocesan process is conducted where an individual died. On 13 March 2006 and 4 March 2008, Bishop Le Saux's predecessor Mgr Jacques Maurice Faivre, had petitioned the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Congregation for the Causes of Saints
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints is the congregation of the Roman Curia which oversees the complex process that leads to the canonization of saints, passing through the steps of a declaration of "heroic virtues" and beatification...

 for an indult permitting the diocesan process to be conducted in Le Mans. On 11 April 2008 the Congregation, having received the assent of the Bishop of Chur, replied affirmatively to the request. Zita was in the habit of spending several months each year in the diocese of Le Mans at St. Cecilia's Abbey, Solesmes
St. Cecilia's Abbey, Solesmes
St. Cecilia's Abbey, Solesmes is a Benedictine nunnery founded in 1866 by Dom Prosper Guéranger, the restorer of Benedictine life in France after the destruction of the revolution...

, where three of her sisters were nuns.

The postulator
The person who guides a Cause for beatification or canonization through the judicial processes required by the Roman Catholic Church is known as the postulator. The qualifications, role and function of the postulator are spelled out in the Norms to be Observed in Inquiries made by Bishops in the...

 for the cause is Father Cyrille Debris. The judge of the tribunal is Father Bruno Bonnet. The promoter of justice
Devil's advocate
In common parlance, a devil's advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with, just for the sake of argument. In taking such position, the individual taking on the devil's advocate role seeks to engage others in an argumentative...

 is the Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 Father Philippe Toxe. The notary is Didier Le Gac.

Titles and styles

  • 9 May 1892 – 21 October 1911: Her Royal Highness Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma
  • 21 October 1911 – 21 November 1916: Her Imperial and Royal Highness Archduchess Zita of Austria
  • 21 November 1916 – 11 November 1918: Her Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty The Empress of Austria, Apostolic Queen of Hungary
  • 11 November 1918 – 14 March 1989:
    • Her Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty Empress Zita of Austria, Apostolic Queen of Hungary (used outside of Austria)
    • Zita, Duchess of Bar (inscribed in her passport)
    • Zita Habsburg-Lothringen (used in Austria)


Charles I, Emperor of Austria and Zita of Bourbon-Parma had eight children:
Name Birth Death Notes
Crown Prince Otto
Otto von Habsburg
Otto von Habsburg , also known by his royal name as Archduke Otto of Austria, was the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary from 1916 until the dissolution of the empire in 1918, a realm which comprised modern-day Austria, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia,...

20 November 1912 4 July 2011 married (1951) Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen (6 January 1925 – 3 February 2010) and had seven children.
* Archduchess Adelheid
Archduchess Adelheid of Austria
Archduchess Adelheid of Austria was a member of the Austrian Imperial Family.Adelheid was born in Schloss Hetzendorf, the second child but eldest daughter of the then Archduke Charles of Austria and his wife Zita of Bourbon-Parma...

3 January 1914 2 October 1971
* Archduke Robert
Robert, Archduke of Austria-Este
Robert, Archduke of Austria-Este, Prince Imperial of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia , was born as the second son of Karl I, last Emperor of Austria-Hungary, and Zita of Bourbon-Parma.-Archduke of Austria-Este:On 16 April 1917, at the age of two, Robert was created Archduke of...

8 February 1915 7 February 1996 married (1953) Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta
Margherita, Archduchess of Austria-Este
Margherita, Archduchess of Austria-Este is the first child of the late Prince Amedeo of Savoy and Princess Anne d'Orléans.-Marriage and issue:...

 (b. 7 April 1930) and had five children.
* Archduke Felix
Archduke Felix of Austria
Archduke Felix of Austria was the last surviving child of the last Austrian Emperor Charles I and a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine...

31 May 1916 6 September 2011 married (1952) Princess Anna Eugenie von Arenberg (1925) – (1997) and has seven children.
* Archduke Carl Ludwig
Archduke Carl Ludwig of Austria (1918–2007)
Archduke Carl Ludwig Maria Franz Joseph Michael Gabriel Antonius Robert Stephan Pius Gregor Ignatius Markus d'Aviano of Austria, also known as Carl Ludwig Habsburg-Lothringen was...

10 March 1918 11 December 2007 married (1950) Princess Yolanda of Ligne
Archduchess Yolande of Austria
Archduchess Yolande of Austria is the widowed wife of Archduke Carl Ludwig of Austria.-Family:...

 (b. 6 May 1923) and had four children.
* Archduke Rudolf
Archduke Rudolf of Austria (b. 1919)
Archduke Rudolf of Austria was the youngest son of Emperor Charles I of Austria and Zita of Bourbon-Parma.-Early life:...

5 September 1919 15 May 2010 married (1953) Countess Xenia Tschernyschev-Besobrasoff (b. 11 June 1929 d. 20 September 1968) and had four children. Married (secondly) (1971) Princess Anna Gabriele of Wrede (b. 11 September 1940) and had one child.
* Archduchess Charlotte
Archduchess Charlotte of Austria
Archduchess Charlotte of Austria was a daughter of Emperor Charles I of Austria and his wife Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma. She was also known by the name Charlotte de Bar while a welfare worker in the United States of America from 1943 to 1956....

1 March 1921 23 July 1989 married (1956) Duke Georg of Mecklenburg ( – 6 July 1963).
* Archduchess Elisabeth
Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria (1922–1993)
Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria was a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. She was the youngest daughter of Charles I, the last Emperor of Austria, and his wife Zita of Bourbon-Parma.-Family and early life:...

31 May 1922 7 January 1993 married (1949) Prince Heinrich of Liechtenstein (5 August 1916 – 17 April 1991) and had five children.


External links

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