Action Alert!

a title restored?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 30, 2009

Today the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI met with "His Royal Imperial Highness Otto von Hapsburg, archduke of Austria." The Vatican protocol office thereby conferred upon the Austrian visitor a title that he himself had renounced.

The heir to the storied Hapsburg dynasty, Otto von Hapsburg is the son of Blessed Karl, the last acknowledged ruler of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Although he was forced from the throne and died in exile, Karl I never abdicated. Otto did renounce his claim to the Austrian throne, as a condition for being allowed to return to his native land. He has been prominent in European politics for decades. Now approaching his 100th birthday, he has stepped away from public life, and in more candid moments has admitted that he regrets renouncing his claims-- even though he made it quite clear that he was renouncing only his own personal claims, not those of his heirs.

Oh, one more thing. In 2007, Otto von Hapsburg relinquished his role as official head of the family, handing that role over to his son Karl. While Otto renounced his claims on the Austrian throne, Karl never did. If there is an "archduke of Austria," he's it.


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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