Betrothal and Marriage (1910-1916)


        While still a child, the future empress met the man who would become her husband, the young Archduke Charles.  Villa Wartholz where Charles resided with his parents was not far from Schwarzau. Their love story however developed slowly and led to their betrothal, on June 13, 1911.  On the official photograph, she added her motto, in her own hand: More for you than for me”.
       On June 24, 1910, St. Pius X received Archduke Charles’ young fiancée and told her this prophecy: « You will marry the heir of the throne.  I wish you therefore all good things ». Zita timidly dared twice to point out to the Pope that the heir was Franz-Ferdinand, Charles’ uncle and the nephew of the reigning emperor Franz-Joseph (1848-1916), but the sovereign pontiff had insisted : «  And I rejoice greatly, because Charles is the reward that God has set aside for Austria, for all that she has done for the Church ». Zita, troubled, as she left the private audience, replied to her mother: « Thank God, the Pope is not infallible in matters of politics». Unfortunately for the Servant of God, the Pope was right



This text will be replaced

       The wedding was celebrated at Schwarzau, on October 21, 1911, in the presence of Emperor Franz-Joseph.  The couple experienced the army life, since Charles was a soldier. They lived, for example, at Brandeis, in the Kingdom of Bohemia. Very quickly, they were blessed by the close births of children:  the heir, Otto (born on November 20, 1912), Adelheid (January 3, 1914), Robert (February 8, 1915), Felix (May 31, 1916), who were followed by more.


       Charles and Zita were not really prepared to reign, since, by all appearances, they would not have to ascend the throne until 1940 or 1950 and even then, it could happen that once Franz-Ferdinand became emperor, he would change the rules of succession to the Throne so that his children, born of his morganatic marriage to Countess Sophie Chotek von Chotkowa und Wognin, would not be excluded from the line of succession.  But for the time being, Zita was already the First Lady of the Empire, since the Emperor was widowed and Franz-Ferdinand’s wife could not hold an official role.  Obviously, with the Sarajevo murder, the couple became the direct heir to the Throne and moved to Hetzendorf, a castle close to Schönbrunn where the Emperor lived.

      Mother and educator of her children, the Servant of God tried to support her subjects, her adoptive children. During the war, she visited many hospitals and was not fooled by the last minute improvements that were made in her honor. In order to act more efficiently, she organized personally a home collection which raised between December 1914 and April 1915, a sum of 1.5 million Crowns, for which she received the Medal of Merit from the Red Cross on August 11, 1915.  She was very attentive to those that were confided in her care, even to the point of tasting the dishes served in public shelters.