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100 years ago: Death of a royal exile

08 April 2022

April 7th, 1922.

IT SEEMS improbable that another Hapsburg will wear the Holy Crown of Hungary for many a long year to come, though the principle of monarchy is still cherished by a very large proportion of the people. The late King [d. 1 April 1922, now Blessed Charles I (of Austria), IV (of Hungary), beatified by Pope John Paul in 2004] succeeded to an estate already bankrupt, and he strove for peace when all was already lost. That he tried to dissuade his overbearing ally from the extremes of inhumanity must be set to his credit. He was well-meaning, and if his reign had fallen in another age he might have ruled with moderate success over the composite empire, and won affection from its discordant peoples. But it was not his to ride the whirlwind and direct the storm, nor was he content to await in exile a favourable turn of events, and a recall to the throne of Hungary. In the eyes of Englishmen, at least, a certain glamour will attach to a royal exile who believes firmly in his divine right and seeks to regain his throne, if he seeks it by the way of romance. But there is no romance in a forged passport, a broken parole, and a false beard, and sympathy went out to the Republic which he had so greatly embarrassed, to the Little Entente whose peace his action threatened, and to those whose relatives fell in the bloody scuffle which preceded his surrender, rather than to the ex-King.

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