The End of the Habsburg Family Dynasty


Here it is, 2011, and we have now witnessed the end of the Habsburg Dynasty:
The eldest son of the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian empire has died in Germany at the age of 98.
Otto von Habsburg was born in 1912, as the heir to the empire, but it collapsed at the end of World War I and the Habsburg family went into exile.
After World War II, Mr Habsburg became a champion of European unity during its Cold War division.
He served as a member of the European parliament for two decades. He is to be buried in the Austrian capital, Vienna.
Mr Habsburg only officially relinquished his claim to inherit the empire in 1961 and five years later was allowed to return to Austria for the first time since the family fled in 1919.
Looking less like the heir to one of the greatest royal families in human history and more like a polite librarian, Habsburg spent his life trying to unify Europe. He could have taken to whatever estate they might have given him, and he could have idled away his life, bitter about what was taken from his family. Instead, he put himself on the front lines of European unification, going so far as to organize a demonstration to open the borders in 1989. How many royals do you know who have relinquished their titles and stood where Communists could easily have arrested or killed him? For that matter, how many royals have ever done anything useful with their lives?

This man did something useful. The end of his family line is the end of one of the great chapters of history.