In the footsteps of the Windsors in Austria
On May 6, 2023, the eyes of the world will be on Westminster Abbey in London. Charles III will be crowned there, it is the last monarchy in Europe to celebrate such a ceremony. The British monarchy and old Austria were closely linked for centuries. Almost the entire 19th century was shaped by two rulers, Queen Victoria in London and Emperor Franz Joseph in Vienna. Although the two only met a few times, this belies the close relationship of the long-term monarchs.
Part 1 of the new two-part documentary goes in search for traces of the British kings and their relationship to Habsburg in Austria. Gifts and favors shaped the relationship between Franz Joseph and Victoria, which was marked by mutual respect. The impression that Empress Elisabeth produced on the Queen was not so good, she was a regular guest in her kingdom, but the women, who were so different, did not get along well.
Victoria bestowed several high honors upon Franz Joseph, a special treasure being the Order of the Garter, the regalia of which is kept in Vienna to this day. Queen Victoria's son and successor, Edward VII, valued Austria and visited it frequently. His presence shaped the taste of Viennese gentlemen. Here he could also visit relatives, the Coburg family or the Mensdorf-Poullies, who lived in the magnificent Nikolsburg Castle on the Moravian-Lower Austrian border. These were Queen Victoria's cousins, and because of their close relationship to the British royal family, they rose to the top of the Habsburg diplomacy.
When the fate of the last imperial couple became unclear after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the English King George V sent one of his officers to Eckartsau to protect them. The last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, had been murdered just a few months earlier. The British monarch wanted to spare the ex-emperor and his family the same fate.
George's son and successor, Edward VIII, shook the world when he abdicated in 1936. After his legendary farewell speech on English radio, he immediately went into hiding - in Austria. For months, the ex-monarch hid in Enzersfeld Castle in Lower Austria, waiting for the divorce from Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom he renounced the throne.
When the new English king Charles III. will be crowned in a few days, few will be aware that one eighth of the Styrians will ascend the English throne. Because Charles' great-grandfather Prince Alexander of Hesse, who was in the service of Russia, once had to leave the court because of a marriage that was not befitting his status. Emperor Franz Joseph caught him and gave him an Austrian regiment stationed near Graz. There his son Ludwig was born, who then married a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and became the grandfather of Prince Philip, who later became the Queen's husband and father of Charles. During World War I, Ludwig had discarded his German title of Prince of Battenberg and turned it into English Mountbatten in order to shed his own German roots in the war against the Germans. The documentary shows how much history of the Windsors has to do with Austria.
Co-production | Clever Contents GmbH and ORF III
Funded | Television Fond of Austria, Filmfond Wien and the Lower Austria region
Genre | documentary
Idea | Günter Fuhrmann
Director | Alexander Frohner
Production manager I Ronald Graf
Length | 45 minutes
Year of production | 2023
First broadcasting | 25. April 2023
+43 699 1861 10004