Hapsburg goes to his grave amid Ruritanian pageant

Eulogies for eldest son of Austria's last emperor

Lederhosen-clad Tyrollean guardsmen hoisted the coffin of Archduke Otto von Habsburg on to their shoulders yesterday, and laid the eldest son of Austria's last emperor to rest in a pomp-filled ceremony evocative of the country's past grandeur when it ruled over much of Europe.

Austria shed its imperial past after it lost the First World War, but for six hours the pageantry, colour and ceremony accompanying the burial turned downtown Vienna into the imperial city it once was. The Archduke, who died on 4 July aged 98, was banished with the rest of his family after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918. The family then scattered across Europe. To the end, Otto von Habsburg never formally renounced the throne – and on Saturday he gained entry into Vienna's Imperial Crypt, the final resting place of the rest of his dynasty, not as emperor but as an ordinary mortal stripped of all honours and titles.

Three times the master of ceremonies knocked on the crypt's doors and twice the coffin was denied entry – first when the Archduke was named as emperor and holder of dozens of other royal titles, then when his academic and political achievements and other accomplishments were listed. "We do not know him!" was the response from the Capuchin friars within. The doors only opened after he was described as "Otto – a mortal and a sinner".

The crypt was the last stop for the crowd of mourners packing the 2.4km route from the Gothic cathedral where he was eulogised earlier in the day. Police estimated that 10,000 spectators lined the route. Austrian Army units in slow funeral march step were followed by a gurney carrying the coffin, covered with the yellow-black Habsburg flag and flanked by the Tyrollean home guardsmen. Next came close family members, then crowned heads from Europe, Austrian government leaders, clergymen in fanciful Habsburg regimental colours.

The elaborate ceremony in Vienna's St Stephen's Cathedral also evoked the grandeur of the 640-year Habsburg dynasty. The Gothic church was packed. In another symbolic bow to the Habsburgs, seven bishops from nations of the former Austro-Hungarian empire – seven countries plus parts of modern-day Montenegro, Italy, Poland, Romania and Serbia and Ukraine – assisted the Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor