Monday, January 10, 2022

Archduchess Margherita of Austria-Este, Princess of Savoy-Aosta (1930-2022)

Archduchess Margherita of Austria-Este,
née Princess of Savoy-Aosta
(7 April 1930-10 January 2022)


Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta on the eve of her marriage.

Today, HI&RH Archduchess Margherita of Austria-Este, Princess of Savoy-Aosta, died at the age of ninety-one years-old. The archduchess died in Basel, Switzerland; this being the town where she and her husband had lived in their later years. 

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Princess Anne of France, Princess of Savoy, Duchess of Apulia, expects her first child.
Snippet (c) Chicago Tribune of 9 March 1930.

On 7 April 1930, Princess Margherita Isabella Maria Vittoria Emanuella Elena Gennara of Savoy was born at Capodimonte. The princess was the first child of Prince Amedeo of Savoy (1898-1942), at the time Duke of Apulia and later Duke of Aosta, and Princess Anne d'Orléans (1906-1986), who married in 1927. Present at Margherita's birth were her maternal grandmother Princess Isabelle d'Orléans, Duchess of Guise, and her great-aunt Queen Amélie of Portugal. The infant Margherita was baptised at the Royal Palace of Capodimonte (Reggia di Capodimonte) on 28 May 1930; King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy was her godfather, her paternal grandmother Princess Hélène, Duchess of Aosta, served as Margherita's godmother. Several years later, Margherita was joined by sister Princess Maria Cristina in 1933.

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In March 1942, Margherita's father Amedeo died from tuberculosis at the age of forty-three. As a commander in the Italian army, the Duke of Aosta had become a prisoner-of-war when he was captured by the British armed forces on the African front. Anne d'Orléans was thus left a widow, who had to care for her two young daughters during the slow but imminent fall of the Kingdom of Italy. 

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The engagement between Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta and Archduke Robert of Austria-Este (1915-1996) was announced in October 1953. The couple met in November 1952 at the wedding of Robert's brother, Archduke Felix, to Princess and Duchess Anna-Eugénie of Arenberg. Marchese Falcone Lucifero, the Head of the Royal Household of King Umberto II, issued the following communiqué to the press: "King Umberto was happy to give his consent, and expressed his fervent good wishes for the engaged couple." Robert was one of the children of Emperor Karl of Austria and Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma. Robert and Margherita contracted a civil marriage on 28 December 1953 at Bourg-en-Bresse, France. 

Archduke Robert and Princess Margherita during their religious wedding.

On the following day, 29 December, Robert and Margherita's religious union took place at Brou, France. Standing six feet tall and wearing a diamond tiara, Margherita proved to be an imposing presence. The bridegroom was himself six feet three inches tall: they formed an impressive couple. Monsignor Marella, the Papal Nuncio to Paris, presided over the imperial and royal wedding. King Umberto II of Italy and Prince Filiberto of Savoy-Genoa, Duke of Pistoia, were the witnesses for Princess Margherita; Archduke Rudolph of Austria and Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma were the witnesses for Archduke Robert. Following their marriage, Archduke Robert and Archduchess Margherita departed Paris for a honeymoon in New York and Palm Beach.

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Archduke Robert and Archduchess Margherita settled in Paris. Robert worked in the banking industry. The couple had five children: Archduchess Maria Beatrix (b.1954), Archduke Lorenz (b.1955), Archduke Gerhard (b.1957), Archduke Martin (b.1959), and Archduchess Isabella (b.1963).

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Archduchess Margherita and Archduke Robert of Austria-Este in the 1990s.
Photograph (c) Presse-Foto-Seeger.
Archduchess Margherita of Austria-Este with her daughter Archduchess Isabella in November 1997.
Photograph (c) Presse-Foto-Seeger.

Four of Margherita and Robert's sons and daughters married into royal and aristocratic circles. In 1980, Archduchess Maria Beatrix wed Count Riprand von Arco-Zinneberg. In 1984, Archduke Lorenz married Princess Astrid of Belgium. In 1997, Archduchess Isabelle wed Count Andrea Czarnocki-Lucheschi. In 2004, Archduke Martin married Princess Katharina zu Isenburg. Only one son, Archduke Gerhard, contracted an "unequal" union; this took place in 2015 when Gerhard wed Iris Jandrasits. Archduke Robert and Archduchess Margherita of Austria had nineteen grandchildren.

Archduke Robert and Archduchess Margherita of Austria-Este

On 7 February 1996, Archduke Robert passed away at Basel, Switzerland, one day shy of his eighty-first birthday. He was buried at Kloster Muri in the Swiss countryside. His widow Margherita survived him by over twenty-five years.

May Margherita Rest In Peace.

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