Friday, March 27, 2015

Which Royals Listened to the Radio?

The description accompanying this image read "the royal family listening to an early radio transmission in exile." The date is given as "around 1920."  It does not indicate which royal family. But I think we can narrow that down. WWI began in 1914 and ended in 1918. WWI didn't begin until 1939... so if the date is even somewhat accurate, it falls between the two major European conflicts of the last century. How do we resolve that?

Well it's clearly not the Romanovs, or the Farouk family from Egypt. These are Europeans. With that constraint, and assuming the date is within two years either way of the given date, my guess is that this is the family of Archduke Felix of Austria-Hungary. Felix was born in 1916 so he might have been as young as 5 when this picture was taken. But depending on the exact year of the photograph he could have been any one of these similar looking kids. I favor the mopey looking one to the right of the radio set.

He had a rough time leading up to 1920. On November 21st, 1914 the Emperor of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and Felix’s father, Charles I, succeeded as the new Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. But he never succeeded in consolidating power. He held the whole coronation fandango, but by October of 1918 Austria and Hungary were splitsville. He wisely abdicated that year.

The fragmenting of their nation led to the exile of the royal family. Originally exiled in Switzerland the Imperial Family were taken to the Portuguese island of Madeira in 1921. It's unclear if this picture was taken in Switzerland or Portugal. Either would be close enough to the estimated date. More here.