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Otto von Habsburg

Otto von Habsburg, also Otto Habsburg-Lothringen or Archduke Otto of Austria (Franz Josef Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xaver Felix RenÚ Ludwig Gaetano Pius Ignazius von Habsburg) (born November 20, 1912), is the current head of the Habsburg family and the eldest son of Karl, the last Emperor of Austria and the last King of Hungary, and Empress/Queen Zita.

Otto and his great-granduncle Francis Joseph

Otto was born in Reichenau an der Rax, Lower Austria. In November 1916, Otto's father, on the death of his granduncle Franz Josef I, ascended the throne and Otto himself, at the age of four, became Crown Prince of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. However, in 1918, at the end of the First World War, Karl had to abdicate, both monarchies were abolished, the Republics of Austria and Hungary founded instead, and the family were forced into exile.

Otto von Habsburg spent the following years in Switzerland and in Madeira, where Karl died prematurely in 1922, making him pretender to the throne at the age of ten. Meanwhile, the Austrian parliament had officially expelled the Habsburg dynasty and confiscated all their property ("Habsburgergesetz" of April 3, 1919). In 1935 he graduated from the University of Louvain, having studied social and political science. Otto spent most of the war years in Washington, D.C (1940-1944). A fervent patriot, he had opposed the Nazi "Anschluss" of Austria of 1938 and also fought Hitler's regime from America. After the war, he lived in exile in France and Spain.

Well after the end of the Second World War, Otto von Habsburg finally renounced all claims to the Austrian throne (1961) and was eventually allowed to return to his home country in 1966. An early advocate of a unified Europe, he served from 1979 till 1999 as a Member of the European Parliament for the conservative German CSU party.

Otto von Habsburg has been married since 1951 to Princess Regina von Sachsen-Meiningen. The couple have seven children and 21 grandchildren. They reside at the "Villa Austria" in P÷cking, Bavaria, Germany.

Otto von Habsburg's oldest son Charles (Karl) von Habsburg (born January 11, 1961), who is to be the future head of the Habsburg family, married Baroness Francesca of Thyssen-Bornemisza in 1993. They have three children and permanently live in Salzburg, Austria.

Preceded by:
Karl of Austria
Heads of the Habsburg family Succeeded by: