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Once an Emperor, Always an Emperor

Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page A18

Regarding Nora Boustany's April 15 Diplomatic Dispatches column about Otto von Habsburg:

A delightful story circulated in Bavaria while I was stationed there in the early 1980s. Mr. von Hapsburg, eldest son of the last reigning monarch of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, finally had been permitted back into Austria a few years before. Because of his popularity, the republican government in Vienna was a bit nervous and, after considerable debate, prescribed the manner in which the mayor of the small Austrian border town was to greet the crown prince and heir to the vanished throne when he crossed from his place of exile in Bavaria.

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The mayor, the government decreed, was to address the returnee as "Doktor von Habsburg."

The train pulled into the station, the mayor bowed low and gushed, "Willkommen in Oesterreich Eure Katholische und Apostolische Majestaet" ("Welcome to Austria, your Catholic and apostolic majesty"), the old formula for addressing the Austro-Hungarian emperor.

Old habits die hard.



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