Legendary Locals: Part 1
“Gardening, she loves to garden and I love to join her there,” Countess Alix de la Poëze d’Harambure-Fraye says fondly when asked about her favorite memory with her mother, Princess Anita von Hohenberg. From joining each other in the gardens to maintaining the beautiful Artstetten Castle in lower Austria, Princess Anita and her daughter are a close duo.
To celebrate the launch of our new Chairman’s Collection journeys, where guests get to meet legendary locals around the world, such as Princess Anita, we sent Luxury Gold’s content producer, Rachel Gee, to Vienna to find out more about the Hohenberg family, their fascinating family history and their life in the castle now.
Sitting tall on an ornately patterned arm chair in Artstetten Castle’s Red Salon room, Princess Anita von Hohenberg welcomes me into her home in a surprising yet reassuring manner – refreshingly down to earth, she invites me to join her on the seat next to her.
Family portraits, past and present, surround this regal room, urging me to ask more about Princess Anita’s intriguing, yet at times painful family history.
For the Princess’ great grandfather was Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, who was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914, leading to the outbreak of World War I.
The historic event is one that not only changed world history but devastated the Hohenberg family. Princess Anita’s grandfather Maximilian and his brother Ernst were later deported to the concentration camp at Dachau after the annexation of 1938 and Artstetten was confiscated from the family until 1949.
However today, Princess Anita is keen to talk about the more romantic side of her family history and the ‘scandalous’ love between her great grandfather and her great grandmother, Sophia Duchess of Hohenberg. Her eyes glistening, she tells me how there was quite a fuss at the time.
“There was drama with the fact Franz Ferdinand was from an imperial family and Sophie from a family of Counts.”
With the law at the time meaning royals could only marry other royals, Franz Ferdinand had to make an oath that his descendants would not be of royal blood.
“That’s why we’re called Hohenberg and why the chief of the family is a Duke,” she explains.
Princess Anita tells me that she likes to talk to Luxury Gold guests about the past, but she also looks to the future with her ever growing family. During my interview I meet three of the Princess’ grandchildren, their mother, Countess Alix, and her husband, Francois-Xavier Fraye.
At one point the Princess’ toddler granddaughter Alexandra runs playfully through the Red Salon room in search of another adored family member, a lively daschund named Moritz.
There is a warm sense of home at Artstetten Castle, and Princess Anita likes to stress to guests that it is not only a castle but a family home.
“We have everything from official meetings to family feasts here. It’s a little diamond, not always polished,” she smiles.
By the end of my interview, I’ve been made to feel at home too, with the family dog resting happy in my arms and the Princess’ young granddaughter playing with me and the crew.
Meet Princess Anita yourself and learn more about her heritage on the 14 May and 10 Sep 2019 departures of our Harmony of Central Europe trip.