Regina von Habsburg

Regina von Habsburg (née Princess Regina Helene Elisabeth Margarete of Saxe-Meiningen; 6 January 1925 – 3 February 2010), also known by the traditional royal title of Archduchess Regina of Austria, was a German-born Austrian social worker.[1] She was a member of the House of Wettin by birth and married to Otto von Habsburg, the last heir of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[2][3][4]

Regina von Habsburg
Born(1925-01-06)6 January 1925
Died3 February 2010(2010-02-03) (aged 85)
Pöcking, Germany
Burial placeImperial Crypt, Capuchin Church, Vienna
(m. 1951)

Early yearsEdit

The Veste Heldburg, where Regina grew up, overlooks the Heldburger Land in South Thuringia.

Regina was born in Würzburg. She was the youngest of four children born to Prince Georg of Saxe-Meiningen and Countess Klara Marie von Korff genannt Schmising-Kerssenbrock (1895-1992). A sister, Marie Elisabeth, died an infant in 1923. The elder brother, Anton Ulrich, was killed in action during the Second World War, while the younger, Friedrich Alfred, became a Carthusian monk.[1]

Although the Saxe-Meiningen dynasty was Protestant, Regina was raised in the Roman Catholic faith of her mother. She grew up in the Veste Heldburg which overlooks the Heldburger Land in south Thuringia. Her father, a judge in Meiningen and Hildburghausen, joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and died a captive at the Soviet camp for prisoners of war at Cherepovets in 1946.[1] Her mother had fled with her to West Germany.

Regina studied social work at Bamberg and then worked in Munich at a Caritas home for Hungarian refugees. In 1949, she met Otto von Habsburg, the heir of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine and the last crown prince of the dissolved Austria-Hungary, when he came to visit his former subjects in the Caritas home. Regina and Otto were engaged in 1950.[1] They were fourth cousins as both were descendants of Karl Ludwig, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and his wife Countess Amalie Henriette of Solms-Baruth.


Regina and Otto's wedding procession

As Otto was prohibited from entering Austria until 1966, his and Regina's wedding had to be celebrated elsewhere. The wedding was held on 10 May 1951 in the Church of Saint-François-des-Cordeliers in Nancy, where several members of the House of Lorraine are buried. Pope Pius XII gave his blessing.[5] Unusually among the heirs to deposed monarchies, Otto did not use royal titles or pursue his claim. Instead, he had a political career in the European Parliament, the success of which he attributed to Regina's support.[1] From 10 May 1954 until her death Regina and Otto lived at Villa Austria, also called the Kaiservilla, in Pöcking near Lake Starnberg.

In her dynastic role as wife of the head of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, Regina acted as protectress of the all-female Roman Catholic Order of the Starry Cross, grand mistress of the similar Order of Saint Elizabeth, and an honorary lady grand cross of the Sovereign Order of Malta.[1]

Later lifeEdit

Regina and Otto lying in repose in the Capuchin Church, Vienna, draped with the Habsburg standard. The guards of honour are dressed in Austro-Hungarian uniforms.

On 2 December 2005 Regina had a stroke[1] and was taken to a hospital in Nancy. By 22 February 2006 she had recovered sufficiently to participate in the transfer of the remains of her mother and her brother, Anton Ulrich, to the vault of the Veste Heldburg in the churchyard of Heldburg. The transfer of the remains of her father thither from Cherepovets took place in the spring of 2007.

Regina died in Pöcking on 3 February 2010, aged 85, and was entombed at Veste Heldburg on 10 February.[6] Her remains, except for her heart, were moved to Mariazell and then to the Kaisergruft in Vienna at the time of her husband's funeral on 16 July 2011.[7][8]


Regina and Otto had seven children; two sons and five daughters:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Archduchess Regina von Habsburg". The Telegraph. 24 February 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Last heir to Austrian empire dies". BBC News. 2011-07-04. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  3. ^ Enache, Nicolas. La Descendance de Marie-Therese de Habsburg. ICC, Paris, 1996. pp. 43, 49, 173, 373. French.
  4. ^ Her marital and birth titles were not recognized in the Austrian Republic, however, in Germany, where she was born and resided most of her life, former hereditary titles are legally incorporated in the surname.
  5. ^ "Archduke Otto Married to German Princess In Church and Civil Rites in Nancy, France", The New York Times, Nancy, France, 11 May 1951
  6. ^ Main Post, February 8, 2010
  7. ^ "Regina von Habsburg tritt ihre letzte Reise an". Retrieved 2011-07-06.
  8. ^ "'Puttis' Herz bleibt in Heldburg". Retrieved 2011-07-10.