Prince Karol Stefan Habsburg has died

Prince Karol Stefan Habsburg, son of the last owners of Żywiec estates and one of the pretenders to the throne of Poland, has died in Stockholm. He was 96 years old.

Karol Stefan Habsburg was born on October 29, 1921 in Balice near Krakow. He was the son of the last owners of Żywiec estates: Archduke Karol Olbracht Habsburg and his wife, the Swedish princess Alice Ankarcrona. He spent his childhood in Żywiec. In 1951, he left Poland together with his mother and sisters Maria Krystyna and Renata to attend his father’s funeral in Sweden, where he settled permanently. He was considered one of the pretenders to the Polish throne - his grandfather, Archduke Karol Stefan, was to become the monarch of the Kingdom of Poland in 1918.

HabsburgLotringen.jpg The Żywiec Habsburgs are closely related to the house that once ruled Vienna, including the Emperor Franz Josef I. They have a common ancestor, Emperor Leopold II. Zywiec goods came into the hands of the Habsburgs in 1838. It was they that built the brewery, currently one of the largest in Poland, as well as the palace.

The last pre-war estate owners were Karol Olbracht and Alicja. They were both attached to their Polish identity; they financed many cultural, scientific projects, societies and social organisations. The Archduke was a colonel in the Polish Army. When war broke out in 1939, he did not sign the Volksliste, for which he was imprisoned by the Germans. The Duchess took the Home Army oath. She was honoured with the Cross of Valour for her activities in the Underground movement. The Germans used repression against the Zywiec Habsburgs and seized their property.

After the war, the Habsburgs from Żywiec were harassed by the communists. They left the country, and the authorities stripped them of their Polish citizenship.

In March 1993, Duchess Maria Krystyna once again was given a Polish passport. She returned to the country permanently in September 2001. She lived in the former Habsburg estate in Żywiec, in a small flat, which had been a bowling alley before the war. She died in 2012 at the age of 88. Renata Habsburg-Lorena de Zulueta, the last surviving child of the Archduke and his wife, lives in Madrid.

Source: Polish Press Agency (PAP)